Monday, February 28, 2011

Breathe and Rest

I am so deeply in debt! I have lost control. I am suffocating. I am about to faint.

Even being so deeply in debt to God, His grace in Christ keeps coming to me day after day. Like oxygen I have never produced, His grace surrounds me. I have paid for none of it yet I continue to breathe in His grace in order to live. I cannot stop. I have become as dependent on His grace as I am on oxygen.

My debt grows exponentially until my hope to settle the debt overwhelms me. I weep. He smiles. He laughs. He knows I am too poor to pay. He finally has me where I belong—breathing His grace with no way to pay.

Suddenly I see the truth. I am not in debt! I am in His love. We live and dance as one.

I rest. Finally I can see what He wants. Freely I have received. Now freely I can give.

When I lost control I found my life. I live to give. I live to love.

Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8

Bud McCord
Abide International

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spirit and Soul

Did you know that there is a difference between your spirit and your soul? There is and that difference needs to be understood if you ever hope to understand and live what God has in store for you.

Read these words in Hebrews 4:12 and note how the spirit and the soul are differentiated and contrasted.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (emphasis mine)

In this verse soul is linked to “joints” and spirit is linked to “marrow”. Problems with your joints will not kill you but they may make you want to die. Just ask people with chronic back pain! Problems in your mind, emotions and will (your soul) will not condemn you death, but may make you want to condemn yourself to death.

Problems with your marrow (spirit) don’t seem as dramatic or as painful as joint issues (soul disturbances) but they will eventually take your life. Problems with your spirit may seem unimportant and almost unnoticed, but they can separate you from God’s life forever.

The verse goes on to link “thoughts” to the soul and “intents” to the “heart” or spirit.

What goes on in the thoughts is significant to human behavior, but God sees our intent and judges our intentions as the essential thing about us.

It is in the marrow of our being, our spirit, where our intentions are birthed. Just as marrow is supposed to be the source of healthy human blood that allows us to live, so, too, spirit is supposed to be the source of healthy, loving intentions from which we should live. It is from the marrow (spirit or heart) that the intentions travel to the soul where they are felt, considered and become personal human desires. As soon as these desires are birthed in your soul you will quickly fulfill them with your body as actions.

Your spirit is where God designed you to connect with Him for the constant inspiration of healthy, loving intentions. No constant Divine inspiration in your spirit means no hope of healthy life and love in your soul. This is why the book of Ezekiel says God will need to give us a new heart and write His laws on our heart.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

Your soul is where those Divinely inspired intentions are transformed into your thoughts, feelings and desires. These healthy, loving intentions did not originate in you but they become yours by God’s gracious generosity. That is why you will say as they become yours in your soul “I am what I am by the grace of God.” I Corin.15:10

Your body is where those Divinely inspired intentions, which are now fully yours, are manifested as continuous love.

So, here is the Divine plan. You receive in your spirit the inspired, living intentions of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who abide in you. You rest and rejoice in your soul as these intentions become yours. You then release these intentions through your body as sustained love.

Over time, as you live from the union of your spirit with the Spirit of Christ, you stop limping in your soul and love gets delivered efficiently. Then you say “For to me to live is Christ.” Phil 1:21 This is what is called “spiritual formation”.

This is the faith, hope and love reality Paul describes in I Cor. 13- 14:1. This is the more excellent way to live.

If you have received Christ as your Savior, the Father, Son and Spirit have come to live in your spirit where they will inspire your intentions until your soul becomes one with them and real love is delivered through you where it is needed. Your job is to believe and cooperate—to abide.

Your soul pain (joint pain) will diminish over time and one day you will walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the wrong intentions which once were so natural to you.

What a plan! I’m in! In union with the Spirit of Christ, that is.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


How do you defuse Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)? One at a time, carefully.

In 2003 the most powerful military force in the history of the world invaded Iraq looking for WMDs. None were found. The embarrassment for the USA lingers to this day. Even so, WMDs do exist and we would be wise to carefully find them, defuse them and disarm them if they are pointed toward us and those we love.

Where should we look first for the WMDs that most threaten us? We need look no further than the human soul—especially our own. The landscape of destruction across our planet’s history can be traced to individual human souls bent on independence from God’s original plan. The most destructive things that have every happened on this planet happened first as an explosion in a human soul. (see the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4)

The human soul was a gift from God to mankind. As His greatest gift, the soul was originally designed to be a River of Living Water--an RLW. A rebellion turned Rivers of Living Water (RLWs) into Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Humans became explosive and began destroying love on earth. Now each human soul needs to be found, defused and disarmed by Jesus, carefully.

C.S. Lewis describes humanity’s situation in these shocking terms.

“Now what was the sort of ‘hole’ man got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement; he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor---that is the only way out of our ‘hole’. This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self will that we have been training ourselves with for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.” Mere Christianity - The Perfect Penitent.

God in Christ has invaded our world to disarm once and for all the WMDs in the souls of men. Jesus set this finding, defusing and disarming process in motion by giving his own perfect and loving soul on the cross to gain legal, spiritual entrance into all human souls. At Calvary Jesus gained the authority to find, defuse and disarm our destructive souls. Our souls which so easily destroy love are pointed straight at the heart of God because God is love.

God through Christ is willing to disarm my personal WMD, my soul, when I personally repent, surrender and invite Him into my inner life to defuse and disarm me. Through His church and by His Spirit Jesus right now is finding, defusing and disarming human souls one by one, carefully.

When Jesus disarms my WMD He abides in my inner life to keep me disarmed and carefully transforms my soul into a RLW—a River of Living Water. He restores the gift of my soul back to what it was originally intended to be-the delivery system of love. Christians call this regeneration or a re-genesis. A bomb becomes a blessing.

Perhaps we think that our souls are not all that dangerous. Certainly human history tells another story and our own inner thoughts tell a story of what we are capable of if the right buttons were pushed. Given the right circumstances any human soul can wreck havoc where it should deliver love. We may never do all the damage we could do and we may do less damage than most, but we are still just as dangerous as all other WMDs when it comes to destroying love.

Christians believe that this process of disarming WMDs hidden in human souls is the most important thing going on in the world. Even in heaven there is a celebration every time a sinner repents and a WMD becomes a RLW.

That gentle knock on the door of your heart is the invading Jesus. He doesn’t invade you with force. He knocks. Let Him in and He will defuse and disarm you. You really don’t want to see what your soul could do if it really went off, do you? That would be hell.

John 7:37-38
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

SOS--Soft On Sin

Jesus' death was approved and applauded by the legalistic sect of His day called the Pharisees. Why? They did not believe Jesus took sin seriously enough. To them, Jesus was soft on sin and, therefore, an enemy of God deserving of death. To legalists being soft on sin is always an emergency calling for drastic action.

As hard as this characterization of Jesus is to believe for those of us who know that He "became sin for us who knew no sin...", the legalists of Jesus' day thought He was soft on sin and deserved to die for being soft. If one believes as legalists do that we exist as humans to do battle with sin in God's name, we could easily think like Pharisees and legalists always think. To them, being soft on sin makes us unworthy of the space we occupy in the world.

Legalists are deadly serious about sin. They focus on sin constantly and they fight it as if their lives depended on the intensity of their fight against it. To the Pharisees Jesus did not focus on sin and He did not fight it. He deserved to die because God is against sin and He did not appear to be with God because He wasn't with them.

Jesus said in John 15" 18-21 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me."

Their are many manifestations of legalism's fight against sin in our world today. None, however, is as powerful and committed to eradicating sin as is radical Islam. They are taking the fight against sin so seriously that they have given the war against sin a special name--Jihad. They have also given all who are soft on sin a special name-Infidel.

Radical Islamists call America and all the western world "The Great Satan." Why? Because no creature ever created is softer on sin than Satan. To today's radical legaists no culture or country takes sin less seriously than the USA and her allies. A casual look at western culture would seem to prove their point.

Are they wrong about the western world being soft on sin? No, the western world does not take sin seriously any more. Are they right that true followers of Jesus are soft on sin? No, true Christians abhor sin but have chosen love over a sword to fight it. Are they right to see western society as Christian? No. Are they right to expect Christians to be hard on sin? Yes, but not hard in their way of being hard.

Legalists are blind to the heart of a person. They never saw Jesus correctly. Legalists can never see the heart because they are too focused on who is or is not bowing to their laws for war against sin. They can only see who agrees with their particular strategy for the war on sin. Death is always very present where legalists rule. When they have dealt with those who really seem softest on sin, like Jesus, they will turn on each other.

The radical legalists of any age will find and ostracize those who don't take sin seriously enough. Eventually they will come with their stones, swords and bombs to destroy them in God's name. Legalists must fight sin or God will consider them soft on sin and that means hell to pay. In their view, Hell is for all who were soft on sin.

I doubt that there has ever been a more committed, worldwide legalism greater than radical Islam. Even so, they are no more than near relatives of the Pharisees who called for Jesus' death 2000 years ago for being too soft on sin.

What can followers of Jesus do in the face of an accusation that says we are too soft on sin? We must listen to Jesus in Matthew 5: 17-20 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

Jesus was not soft on sin. He was committed to its destruction by continuous love.

Pharisees always have hundreds of laws that they label as the right way to be hard on and eventually destroy sin. For radical Islamists the law for sin destruction is called "Shariah".

This is nothing new. The rigid external laws make it easy to spot and isolate those who are obviously soft on sin. All those who ignore the laws are soft on sin and deserve to die at the hand of the righteous who are tough on sin. The rigid external laws make isolating the guilty easier and it makes the legalistic leaders proud of their righteous fight against sin. To legalists, anything done to fight sin is good. There is only one rule for the legalist--Fight sin.

Jesus' way of dealing with sin is different. He fought it and destroyed it by fulfilling the law. The fulfilling of the law is perfect love. He defeated sin by continuously loving God and His neighbor. By continuously loving as He lived and continuously loving the world at Calvary as He died he defeated and destroyed sin and death once and for all. He chose to be hard on Himself so He could be effectively hard on sin not us.

Jesus' calls us to follow Him in this way of dealing with sin. Jesus calls us to carry our cross. Jesus calls us to love instead of justifying the death of those who are soft on sin. If we do this Jesus' way, we, too, will be called "soft on sin" by legalists.

When the legalists come, and they always do, don't grab your sword to be hard on them. Grab Jesus' love that abides in you. Carry your cross and you will be truly hard on sin.

A sword is in reality too soft on sin. Staying bowed in submission to Jesus and His love will strike a blow against sin that will outlive your own temporary suffering. By doing this you will let the world see the way, the truth and the life is Jesus. Jesus always has been and always will be the only way to be truly tough on sin.

The legalists always come, but love is greater than their blindness and rage. There will be a resurrection for all who are hard on sin as Jesus was.

It is time for Christians to be tough on sin--Love like Jesus did.

Monday, February 07, 2011

First Thought: Christ in You

First Thought
Christ in You
"Christ is all and is in all.” Col. 3:11

When you awaken each day remember that Jesus abides in you. Verbally affirm His presence as your entire Christian life. Tell Him you are thrilled He abides in you. Never start a day from what you lack.

Listen to how Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola describe Jesus in their wonderful book Jesus Manifesto.

Jesus is…

Your Shepherd, your Advocate, your Mediator, your Bridegroom, your Lion, your Lamb, your sacrifice, your manna, your smitten Rock, your living water, your food, your drink, your good and abundant land, your dwelling place, your Sabbath, your new moon, your Jubilee, your new wine, your feast, your aroma, your anchor, your wisdom, your peace, your comfort, your Healer, your joy, your glory, your power, your strength, your wealth, your victory, your redemption, your Prophet, your Priest, your kinsmen redeemer, your teacher, your guide, your liberator, your deliverer, your Prince, your Captain, your vision, your sight, your beloved, your way, your truth, your life, your author, your finisher, your beginning, your end, your age, your eternity — your all and all.

May the perfect and positive presence of Jesus be your first thought not your last.

Bud McCord
Abide International