Wednesday, March 30, 2011


“If we confess our sins….” I John 1:9

Do Christians still confess their sins to God? It has been a long time since I heard a sermon on the need to confess our sins. It has been a long time since I heard a disciple of Jesus talk about confession. Where has confession gone?

Confession has always been difficult for men and women. It is not pleasant to discover when, where and how our love stops toward God or toward others. It has always been easier to throw stones at others than it is to see ourselves as we really are.

I remember hearing a speaker say that our ability to easily see and judge another person’s sin reveals a deep and intimate knowledge of the actions being judged. In other words, if you can see another’s sin easily, it is because you have personal experience with that same sin.

Jesus once dealt with an angry crowd of judgmental religious men who were about to stone a woman found in the act of adultery. (See John 8) He stopped their judgment by saying “He who is without sin can cast the first stone.” Beginning from the oldest and ending with the youngest they all dropped their judgment and left.

They left because Jesus led them into confession. The cure of judging others is in the spiritual discipline of confession. How long has it been since Jesus led you into confession?

“If we confess on sins….” that is a big “if”.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Monster God

Recently I heard a pastor refer to the God of the Old Testament as "the Monster God." This pastor was lamenting the apparent fact that the God we meet in the Old Testament seems so cruel and vindictive. Is the God of the Old Testament "the Monster God?" Is God cruel and vindictive?

Around the same time I heard this pastor talking about the vengeful God of the Old Testament a new convert spoke to Pam about how much trouble she was having reading through the Old Testament. She was shocked by all the conflicts and war. She was shocked that God would be involved.

Well, what should we do with the Old Testament? Should we apologize for the God of the Old Testament?

What we should do is understand what inspires God to do what He does here on earth. God is doing what must be done to keep love alive on this planet among men and women.

Consider these statements about reality. If oxygen disappears, we disappear. If water disappears, we disappear.
If food disappears, we disappear. If any of these things begin to disappear, should we take action to find the source of the problem and resolve it? I guess that depends on whether or not we think humans disappearing would be a bad thing. Would our disappearing from earth be a bad thing?

Keep thinking with me a little farther. What if humans are the only delivery system of love on earth? What if saving humans is to save love on earth? What if the Old Testament is God saving love on earth?

I believe that human beings are meant to be the Divine delivery system of love on earth. Humans are to the sustaining of love in this world what plants are to the sustaining of oxygen.

Sin destroys love. Sin is like pollution which destroys all things clean. God will go after sin for this reason. God will go after what is destroying love because God is love.

The God of the Old Testament is not a monster. The God of the Old Testament is the hero of love.
God in the New Testament continues to be the hero of love. God didn't calm down. God in the New Testament got even more aggressive. He sent His Son to take the last blow against man's sin.

I, for one, read the Old Testament with shame that man did not cooperate with God's love from the beginning. To criticize God for being too harsh is to say mankind was not important enough to save. I am glad God felt we needed to be saved and He did what He had to do.

Go back and read the Old Testament and when things get ugly remember what is at stake is the very existence of love on this planet.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

True Spirituality

What does true spirituality look like?

The only way I know to see clearly and define correctly true spirituality is to look closely at the life and behavior of Jesus. Only Jesus’ life and behavior define and reveal to mankind what constitutes true human spirituality.

As I have examined closely Jesus’ true spirituality in the Gospels, I have come away with two helpful words—Pure Inspiration. Jesus lived Pure Inspiration among us. Being constantly inspired by God’s purity and presence, He was “God with us” as a human being. He was “grace and truth” made visible and available to us. The fullness of God dwelt in Him and that explains why we see God in Him.

If I want to be a spiritual human being like Jesus, then I must also be a man inhabited by the same pure Inspiration. I must find and enjoy the same source of Pure Inspiration that allowed Jesus to be who He was and do what He did.

In the book of Galatians Paul called finding and living in this kind of Pure Inspiration “walking in the Spirit.” In the book of Ephesians he called finding and living in this Pure Inspiration “Being filled with the Spirit.” In John 15 Jesus called this constant connection to Pure Inspiration “Abide”.

Whatever this contact and connection to Pure Inspiration is called, it always comes down to an intimate, continuous, personal relationship to the only source of Pure Inspiration that allows men and women to be what God intended for them to be since the beginning described in Genesis 1 and 2. Pure Inspiration is contact with and connection to the triune God that said in Genesis 1 “Let US make man in our image…”

No one’s spirituality will be what it should be until it is sourced in God’s total and inspiring purity. Jesus in us is our connection to that total purity. Jesus in us is God’s way of inspiring us moment by moment to be like Jesus was as a human being Just as He was inspired by His Father through the Spirit, He is willing to be our connection to Pure Inspiration right now.

When Jesus said He always did that which pleased the Father, He was saying that He always did what Pure Inspiration made Him want to do and also enabled Him to do.

When we abide in the true Vine, we, too, can be inspired to like Jesus. There is equal hope for all of us since the same Pure Inspiration that abides in one believer abides in all believers. Live Pure Inspiration today. Live Jesus. Living Jesus is what true spirituality looks like.

“Christ is all and is in all.” Col. 1:16

“For to me to live is Christ…” Phil. 1:21

“It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20

Bud McCord
Abide International

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


I love the way God orchestrates our circumstances to inspire us. It has been my experience that every day can be an inspirational experience if we will receive it as coming from God's loving hands.

I recently experienced 4 days of continuous inspiration in a small Brazilian city call Jaguaquara in the state of Bahia. this city is not a place I would ever have found on my own. God picked this city for me to visit. He wanted to inspire me.

The city is simple, far away from the main traffic of the state and clearly not the kind of place I would have picked to live. It is, however, home to an inspiring work of God.

In 1898 an American missionary family named Taylor and a Brazilian family named Egidio decided to bless poor children with a Christian education. 114 years later the school continues its mission and is blessing over 500 students who come in from farms where good education is not available.

What inspired me was to walk the streets of this simple interior town and know that many of the state's leading citizens and even governors were loved in Jesus' name at the school.

I wonder how many days the Taylor and Egidio families wondered if their work and life would matter? I wonder if it ever entered their mind that they would bless me like they did this week?

The things you do today may inspire someone 114 years from now. Do the best you can today.

(In one of the photos there is a woman who is praying for the team that led the conference. She is the granddaughter of one of the original families that started the school in 1898. Now that is inspiring!)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Sir, We would see Jesus

I recently visited a well known Vineyard near São Paulo in the city of São Roque. This area of Brazil has been home to vineyards ever since European immigrants brought their precious vines with them as their hope for a better future. Their dreams came true and many of the vineyards are now multi-million dollar businesses that fund comfortable lifestyles for the descendants of those poor immigrants who came to Brazil believing that their vines would keep them alive.

My visit to the Goes Vineyard was to take a picture of the vines and branches at harvest time. Unfortunately I missed the harvest by about two weeks.

Pastor Sidney Costa and I enjoyed a great lunch at the vineyard's fine restaurant and then we asked if we could see the vines and the branches so we could take a few pictures. The people selling the juices and the wines said that would not be possible, but we could buy all the juice and wine we wanted. They also told us we were free to shop in their gift shops.

I insisted that I wanted to see the vines and the branches. They insisted that the public could not see them except during paid tours.

We wandered out into the parking lot and I found a vine and some branches. It caught my attention that what the original immigrants believed would build the vineyard was the vines and the only vines I could see were in the middle of asphalt. It seemed to me that the current owners were more interested in selling food, wine, gifts and tours. The vines and branches were no longer the focus.

In a way this reminded me of the modern evangelical church. We say we trust Jesus and He is the source that builds our churches. Is that really what we believe? Could it be we now trust our courses, studies and services to do what the vine once did? Are we interested in a comfortable income rather than healthy vines and branches?

We left the well known vineyard and headed back toward São Paulo. We saw some vines and branches along the side of the road and stopped. The contrast was amazing. This was apparently a newer vineyard and the thing they wanted us to see was the vines and the branches.

I wonder what that same vineyard will look like when it "succeeds"? Will it surround its vines with concrete, open restaurants and gift shops? I hope not. It is the vine and branches that build vineyards.