Monday, August 29, 2011

The Gospel of Jesus-Begin Again or Change?

Is the invitation of Jesus to live a new life a call to change the life we already have? Is Jesus’ calling us to begin again or make significant adaptations with His help? Is discipleship a perfecting of the imperfect in us or is it the living from a perfect life that is put in us? Do we ask people who are living such complex and sinful lives to focus on changing those lives with church intervention or to begin living an entirely new life in Jesus?

These questions take us right to the heart of a debate that has tormented the church of Jesus since Paul confronted the false teachers in the Galatian church when he said “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel-which is really no gospel at all.” Gal. 1:6-7a

Change your lifestyle and way of living with my church’s help is not the message of Jesus. The message of Jesus is begin again by living my life, not yours. In other words, forget change that never works and embrace Me the One who never fails.

As hard as it is for us to accept, men and women cannot change on a level that God can accept as sufficient for true, loving humanity to appear and be sustained. To tell a person that they can change or adapt the way they live for God’s acceptance is to preach another Gospel. To tell them that they can begin again in Jesus is the true Gospel. God is starting in Jesus a new, living humanity not a changed, somewhat improved humanity.

Jesus told Nicodemos in John 3 that nothing short of a new birth would allow him to see or enter the kingdom of God. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4 that nothing short of another living source of water and inner life would satisfy here and allow her to begin again. Jesus said in John 15 that we could do nothing without Him and that includes living a fruitful life that God wants of us.

The language of Jesus and of the New Testament is not change language. It is begin again language. It is leaving the Kingdom of darkness and going into the Kingdom of Light. It is leaving death and entering life. It is crucified with Christ to begin living Christ.

It is common to be asked here in Brazil, “Do you think a homosexual can change?” Just yesterday I was asked this question. This question is asked by sincere and not so sincere people. My answer is “Christianity is not about changing the homosexual or about changing anyone. No plan for change can help any of us if our goal is to be what God wants us to be. Our problem is beyond change. Christianity is about living a new life- Jesus’ life-now and forever. It is about a constant cooperation with that perfect life of Jesus in us that lets Jesus manifest Himself through us. Anyone who wants to begin again in Jesus is welcome to live Jesus and that includes the homosexual and me.”

Selling change is religion and it is big business. People who market change as Jesus’ message get rich because they are offering something that never ends and in the end never works. Making people dependent is big business. Just ask drug dealers. Paul said that these types of people have a god. Their “belly” or their own interests are their god.

People who offer a new beginning from the perfect source that is Jesus in us will soon not be needed by those who begin to live Jesus. So much for creating dependence that feeds the religious! Pointing people to new life instead of never ending change doesn’t make for a great financial plan but it sure makes us more like Jesus and the apostles. None of them ended up rich, but they still have living influence 2000 years later. Take your pick-- Change sells or Jesus lives?

People can’t be reached by change because the problem is too deep for change to reach. Imagine you found you needed a bone marrow transplant. No amount of exercise, medicine or activity can reach the marrow level. So it is with what we need spiritually. We need new, eternal spiritual marrow. We need a spirit to Spirit marrow connection with Jesus in order to begin again.

The good news is that once the Spiritual marrow transplant takes place when we receive what God is willing to give us in His Son, we just need to increasingly cooperate with this new spiritual, eternal marrow since it is the same spiritual marrow that Jesus gave at Calvary to save us all.

Only when we abandon change as the goal will certain Bible verses begin to make sense. These verses are “transplant” verses not “religious change” verses.

“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: whichis Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27

“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

“Christ is all and is in all” Col. 3:11

Humanity is beyond the need for change no matter how well it sells. Humanity needs the life of Jesus in us by the Spirit of God. Don’t tell people they can change. Tell them they can live Jesus. In Him all things become new not changed.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Growing Awareness

“Lord, increase our faith!”

What does it mean to have the Lord grow our faith? It means to experience a Divinely inspired increase in our personal awareness of God’s generous disposition and loving activity toward all mankind.

Many believe that to grow in faith simply means having an increased awareness that God is generous toward those of us who believe in Him. This is too limited in its scope. To grow in faith is to become aware that God is generous toward all men and we should be, too.

In other words, God is on His own “side”. He is not just on our side. He is not just interested in those who cooperate with Him. He is interested in love as the universal reality that must come to all. He is not against human beings. He is for His love defining everything and everyone. He increases our faith so we can join Him in His love for all.

We can hear God’s love in Jesus’ words.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Jesus’ words in Matthew 5: 43-48

Jesus’ presence, behavior and teaching were man’s first perfect opportunity to see and hear what God’s love looks like in human form. Jesus said “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” John 14:9

Jesus’ life inspired his disciples to expand their awareness of God’s love. His every word and action challenged everyone’s awareness of God’s goodness and love toward mankind. His words and actions still inspire our faith to grow.

In one such moment of Jesus increasing his disciples faith in God’s commitment to love Peter and Jesus have this exchange in Matthew 18: 21-22

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

When Jesus told Peter to forgive 70 X 7, Peter lacked a deep enough awareness of God’s commitment to loving others to absorb such a view and behavior toward others. Jesus did not lack this awareness. He knew the heart of His Father and He was cooperating with the will of His loving father at all times and toward all men.

Growing our faith is truly a work of God’s grace and patience with us. The same love God expects of us toward others is the love that patiently grows our faith in God’s love.

When we pray, “Lord, increase our faith.” we are inviting God to take us right into the heart of why Jesus came. Jesus came to return humanity to a complete awareness and practice of God’ infinite love.

When God increases our faith He increases our love. His love needs no increasing but our love certainly does. Let Him increase your faith in Him and your love will grow toward others.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Monday, August 08, 2011


Imagine a small woman named Maria who has lived her entire life in a remote village along the Amazon river. All she knows about life is that the river is the key source of everything she needs to live. She is illiterate but she knows how to read the river and live from the river. Maria knows the river. Maria loves the river.

This woman accepts Jesus. He becomes life to her inner world just as the river is life to her outer world. She is deeply in love with Jesus. She knows Jesus.

Far away in the great city of São Paulo is a world famous professor who has studied the rivers of the world and their impact on ecosystems. He is considered the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to river systems. Of all the rivers he most admires and studies the Amazon river. He, too, is a believer in Jesus.

One day this professor comes to the tiny village where Maria has lived her entire life.

As the professor speaks with Maria he begins to realize that to her the river is life. To him the river has been a fascinating subject and a challenge to dominate. He has known the river but he has never lived the river.

Who really knows the river best, Maria or the professor? The person who depends upon something to live truly knows. Maria knows the river. The professor knows about the river.

Even so, Maria hangs on every word the professor says. She has always wanted to find out all the facts about the river. Where does it begin? Where does it end? Why does it rise and fall always in the same months. Why has it never stopped? Who started it?

Maria already loves and lives the river. In reality the professor should hang on her every word. She knows what he does not yet know. If he could humble himself and let Maria teach him about the river, he would begin to live the river, too.

So it is with the poor of the world who know Jesus. Those of us who have made Christianity a fascinating subject and a challenge to dominate would do well to listen to the Marias of the world. Those of us who have only studied Jesus would do well to grow quiet in the presence of those who live Jesus.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

You Are What You Receive

God told Adam and Eve they would be dead if they received the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They received the fruit and died. The became what they received.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen. 2:16-17

John tell us that when we receive Jesus we will be children of God.

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: John 1:11-12

From Genesis to Revelation we see this truth--We are what we receive. No one can decide to be what they want to be. They can receive what they want to be. They can choose the source and by so choosing they choose their being.

In Psalm 1 we see a contrast between what people chose to receive in the Old Testament.

Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree

Planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,

But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Notice the words “he meditates day and night...” This is a deliberate receiving from God’s intentions as revealed in the law. This man became what he received.

Christ lives in you by His Spirit so you can abide in Him. To Abide is to receive moment by moment directly from who Jesus is.

You will bear the fruit of what you receive. Abide and you will be like Jesus.

Remember, you are what you receive.

Bud McCord
Abide International