Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"It Was Good For Me"

The parables of the treasure and the pearl of great price. Matthew 13: 44-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Why did the man and the merchant do what they did? They did it because it was good for them and it was very smart. It was to their great advantage to reach a place of absolutely no need outside the possessing of the treasure or the pearl. With these choices they were done choosing. What a relief! Does the Kingdom of heaven approve of such thinking? According to Jesus it does and that took me by surprise. Here is how I might have ended these parables to make it fit my old idea of Christian self denial which always left me feeling I should do only things that would leave me with less. “And the man gave the treasure to the poor so his treasure would not distract him.” “And the man who bought the pearl sold it and gave the money to the poor so he would look humble.” Whey didn’t Jesus add my thoughts to His? Because He approves of human beings doing what is best for them. He always has. He approves of human beings who know how to choose their permanent, personal solution before they try to become someone else’s partial solution. Jesus approves of human beings living from permanent abundance. The treasure and the pearl are Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate value of the Kingdom. Jesus is the Kingdom made visible. Jesus is perfect abundance. Letting go of everything we have valued in our old pursuit of happiness in order to have Him is good for us and it is very smart. In the end such a singular pursuit of Jesus is the only thing that will make us most useful to those in need. In fact, choosing Jesus is the only thing that will make us truly useful forever. Beneath all the wonderful sounding reasons we give for our personal behavior is one inescapable fact. We all do what we think is best for us. We love ourselves too much not to do so. To lose our life in this world and find Jesus as our life is what is best for us and it is a very smart choice. Jesus is our only hope to live and love from abundance. The choosing of what is best for us is not the problem. The problem is we choose things that are not best for us and then we suffer a sense of lack, start looking again and everyone else suffers with us because we are still on the hunt for what is best. When we choose Jesus as what is best for us, God is pleased with us because He is the One who created us to choose Jesus who is the best. When we get choosing Jesus right, we will certainly bear the good fruit of such a smart choice. Once you have the best you can really get on with living the best. When you choose Jesus your need to keep on choosing ends. You have what is best for you forever and nothing is smarter than settling the abundance issue once and forever. To truly love the issue of permanent, personal abundance found in Christ must be settled once and for all. Make Jesus your final choice and you will choose to love. What a relief it is to love from the certainty of Jesus’ eternal perfection and abundance instead of constantly checking to see how much we have spent loving others. Bud McCord Abide International

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Farmer

On the last day of His life on earth before His crucifixion Jesus refers to His Father as a Vinedresser--a farmer. Hardly the title I would chosen for the King of the Universe and the One who was at that moment overcoming the Evil One through His Son's sustained and sustaining love. Still, the title is the one Jesus chose. I have come to see why Jesus called His father a farmer during my 60 year journey in the world. God is not about changing the world. He overcomes it one human at a time. He takes the world as it is and does what He wants done through those He chooses. He takes into consideration all the tragic elements of the world and says, "I can grow my crops here in this life." We get angry at God because He does not change the tragic elements of the world, but He goes on with His work--getting His fruit visible and available in the middle of this tragic world. The crop (fruit) God wants is called love - sustained love. Jesus is the first to have sustained the Farmer's love. Since He did this all excuses about the world being too tough a place for sustained love to exist are eliminated. All excuses are gone for the branches of His sustained love and it is time to harvest the same sustained love crop worldwide. Every time you pick up a beautiful apple, pear, banana or grape cluster, some farmer has overcome the world for you. For such beautiful fruit to end up on your table, the world was overcome and you benefit from the victory. Thank God for farmers! The One who overcame the world is now abiding in you to bear the fruit of Jesus' sustained love. No excuses now about the world needing to change before you can bear this fruit. The Farmer knows what He has done and he can do in the world just as it is. He can make us the bearers of sustained love if we will but abide 24/7 and moment by moment in His sustained and sustaining love. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will suffer tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Jesus inspiring his disciples in John 16:33 Bud McCord Abide International

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. I Cor. 2:16

Jesus was the only human being who ever enjoyed a mind that was completely free to function as a human mind was meant to function. He was the most intelligent man who ever lived and His mind was the perfect tool for God’s loving purpose. Jesus never wasted His mind. He used His mind to live the Christian life.

Unfortunately we as disciples waste His mind. We waste it because we do not believe we have His mind. We think great Bible teachers have some of His mind, but we honestly do not see ourselves having nearly any of His mind.

How many children grow up and live their entire lives never being encouraged to develop the ability that their own DNA possesses? They don’t even know what their DNA is. How many young adults give into distractions and end up living their entire lives beneath their full potential? They don’t even know what their potential is. How many Christians never access the mind of Christ while trying to live the Christian life? They don’t even know what the mind of Christ is.

I, for one, have wasted much of the mind of Christ over the years. Quite frankly, I have only recently realized something of what it means to have the mind of Christ. I have only recently begun to realize that having the mind of Christ is critical to living Christ’s life as my life.

“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

To have the mind of Christ means I can literally think with Jesus about everything that is happening to me at any moment. If you have a mind you can think with that mind! If you cannot think with it you don’t have it.

Jesus abides in me by His Spirit and is willing to think with me. He is willing to give me His thoughts about my reality until my reality becomes His reality. As we think together as one we begin to face the reality with one mind--His mind.

I know this sounds very strange, but I imagine that the first time people heard that they carry their parents DNA that, too, sounded strange. Even so, the only DNA we will ever have or ever use is the DNA we received from our parents. It is also true to say “I have the mind of Christ.” Jesus gives me His mind by His Spirit within me. The only thinking that I can use to live the Christian life comes from Jesus’ mind not mine. My mind cannot think the Christian life up as I go along. My mind needs to receive the thoughts directly from Jesus who is the living Christian life who lives in me.

Every believer has the mind of Christ. Every believer can let the mind of Christ teach their mind how to live Jesus’ life in our daily reality.

I have tested this idea with many congregations and with many Christians by describing to them scenarios where they are facing some challenge or attack. I ask them to ask Jesus who abides in them what He thinks about this challenge or attack. I ask them to think with His mind if they should be afraid or go on the attack. As incredible as it sounds, they always know what He thinks. That shocked me. They did not always want to do what He thinks, but they always knew what He thinks.

The next time you are facing a great challenge ask Jesus what He thinks about the challenge. Ask Him if He thinks it is the end of the world. Ask Him if the challenge is impossible. Ask Him if you should be afraid to face the challenge. I know you already know the answer because you really do have the mind of Christ.

The next time you are attacked or offended ask Jesus what He thinks. Does this attack determine who I am? Does this offense mean I need to vindicate myself? Should I retaliate? I know you already know the answer because you really do have the mind of Christ.

It is a terrible thing to waste the mind of Christ.

Bud McCord
Abide International