Monday, June 27, 2011

Why We Exist

Is it possible for us to live every single moment of our lives for one essential reason? Would it be better for us to adjust our reasons for living as we move through the seasons of life? Is it even wise to have only one reason for living?

Listening to a lot of theories about the reasons for living one can easily think the best answer to these questions is “Whatever.” “Whatever” fits you is the reason you exist. You make the choice and do the best you can. “Whatever” happens is your purpose just don’t mess with my “Whatever” doing your “Whatever.”

Is that how Jesus lived? If you know the account of Jesus’ life in the Gospels you know that Jesus could never have spoken the word “Whatever” when describing his existence.

Jesus knew He came to this world to do the Father’s will which was to seek and save lost humanity. There was no “whatever” in Jesus mind, emotions or will. There was, however, a “Whatever the Father wants” in Jesus’ mind, emotions or will.

Judging from Jesus’ influence over the history of the last 2000 years and how His life has transformed mine, I would say doing “whatever the Father wants” clearly is why a human exists. “Whatever the Father wants” is why I exist.

Matthew 7:14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Human Power or Divine Love?

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7: 21-23

The people Jesus knows have chosen God’s love over human power. Jesus will accept nothing less of us and by His Spirit He will lead us to make this choice.

Those who will someday hear "I never knew you: depart from Me,” have made their choice. They opted for power as the path to personal satisfaction and security. They decided to become specialists in powerfully solving other people’s problems for their own gain. This use of spiritual power over others used by men for gain is not new.

The book of Acts records a story of a man who coveted more of the power to solve other’s problems for his own gain. The story of power seeking does not end well for the man. It never does. He, too, was forced to choose human power or God’s love.

“But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, 'This man is the great power of God.' (emphasis mine) And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, 'Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.'

But Peter said to him, 'Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.'

Then Simon answered and said, 'Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me'.” Acts 8: 9-24

Abiding in Christ is not a plan for gaining power over others by solving their problems. It is a plan for living Jesus’ life for others. Jesus’ life was not a manifestation of how one gains power over others by solving their problems. Jesus’ life is a manifestation of how one gives up human power over others in order to cooperate with God’s love which is the solution.

Some may say that to love is to have power. There is power in love. It is the power of a child. It is the power of Jesus washing feet. It is the power of saying “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It is the power of being salt or light. It is the power of taking others to God’s love for their solutions.

If your power is the power of God’s love and you give love away freely as you receive it freely, more power to you!

Bud McCord
Abide International

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Resist or Release?

"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.” Matthew 5:38-39

Some of the things Jesus said are beyond shocking. His words are from another reality.

If we hear Jesus’ words and obey them then we truly have begun to believe Jesus is God’s Son with all authority.

I have wrestled with the words of Matthew 5:38-39 for over 44 years. I guess that says something about just how far I still have to go with giving up on this world and its views on reality. By God’s grace I am learning to live these words, but I have only recently begun to truly see them more clearly after 60 years of observing the contrast between resisting and releasing among humans.

Here is what I have seen. The Universe never works for those who resist others. It cannot. The Universe is designed to work for those who release love not resist people. Why has this been so hard for me to see and accept?

I have not seen it because I lacked complete faith in Jesus’ words and I have not spent enough time observing the beautiful and powerful things of God around me that release but do not resist.

Flowers do not resist, they release what they are and they are beautiful.

Birds do not resist, they release what they are and they are beautiful.

Salt does not resist, it releases what it is. It is beautiful, pleasing and preserving.

The ocean does not resist, it releases what it is and it is beautiful, powerful and irresistible..

The sun does not resist, it releases what it is and it is beautiful, powerful and irresistible.

Rain does not resist, it releases what is beautiful. refreshing and it, too, is irresistible.

Who can resist these things and win?

Jesus did not resist, He released what He is and He the beginning and the end of all beauty and all reality. Who can resist Jesus and win? Didn’t He settle that once and for all at Calvary?

When I resist an evil person, I stop being what I was made to be--a person made in the image of God. I stop being the part of creation that is supposed to release love like God does. When I resist an evil person I stop being human because my enemy stopped being human in order to attack me. To stop loving is to stop being human. Try to picture Jesus not loving and you will get the irresistible picture.

Resistance will never win in this universe because God does not resist and He is irresistible. God does not need to resist. He is the great I AM who is the source of source. All that is good He releases. Nothing and no one can stop that.

The evil person who attacks another human being is swimming out into an ocean that will not resist him but it will swallow him in all that it is and all that it releases. The evil person will perish the more he resists and the farther he swims away from the shore of who he was created to be.

When an evil person attacks you, don’t follow the evil person into the ocean. Turn your cheek, walk the extra mile and follow love which will make you more and more like Jesus.

To be irresistible don’t resist. Just be you as God designed you to be.

When you release love you will find the universe cooperates with you because the Creator designed it to cooperate with love not hate.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Making Disciples

A disciple of Jesus is a person who is consistently cooperating with Jesus.

The process of learning to cooperate with Jesus can only effectively be taught and measured by those who already are cooperating with Jesus. This is why Jesus sent his first cooperating disciples into all the world to make disciples. He told the first disciples to teach new disciples to “observe” all the things that Jesus had commanded them. To “observe” a commandment of Jesus is to cooperate with the One making the command.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20

Every disciple is initially surprised at what Jesus commands. The kind of cooperation He demands seems so foreign to our normal way of dealing with day to life that we are shocked at how Jesus wants us to behave.

Listen to just a few of Jesus commands and ask yourself how cooperative you are with Jesus in these areas.

“Do not resist an evil person.”

“Take no thought about tomorrow.”

“Forgive 70 times 7.”

“Wash feet.”

For many who produce discipleship materials the goal of discipleship seems to be the accumulation of information about Jesus’ commands. They love producing discipleship resources. They know what Jesus commands and they teach it with great skill. Unfortunately they often fail to measure cooperation with Jesus because measuring another disciple’s personal cooperation with Jesus is messy and time consuming. It is easier to measure sales of the material about Jesus’ commands and focus on increasing the numbers of students who successfully finished the course about cooperating.

For Jesus, discipleship is about continuous cooperation with Him. This is clear by watching how Jesus discipled his first followers. Cooperation with the Bible is not discipleship. However, true cooperation with the Bible will always lead to cooperation with Jesus which is discipleship. If cooperation with the Bible does not lead to cooperation with Jesus it is not discipleship. “Follow Me”, “Believe in Me” and “Abide in Me” cannot be replaced with “Believe what the Bible says about Me whether you cooperate with Me or not.”

Resources that help us cooperate more easily with Jesus are welcome. Resources that simply fill our minds with Christian ideas about the commands of Jesus can often mask a lack of actual cooperation with Jesus. Jesus shows us that Pharisees always know a lot about their Bible and little or nothing about cooperating with Him.

And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. John 5: 37-40

Today, choose any command of Jesus and test your level of cooperation with Jesus as this day passes by. If you need help evaluating, ask someone who consistently cooperates with Jesus to observe your cooperation with Jesus’ commands. Be prepared to adjust to Jesus not the person making the evaluation.

Remember, Jesus abides in you so your cooperation is directly with Him and not with the person who is discipling you. To abide in Him is to cooperate with Him moment by moment. Cooperation with Jesus makes us disciples who bear fruit. Cooperate with Jesus!