Wednesday, November 30, 2011



“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6: 19-21

A human being without a desire for treasure (abundance) does not exist. The difference among humans is defining what the true human treasure should be, how it is to be obtained and where to keep it safe. Some people say they have no need of treasure but even they will protect something or someone given just the right set of circumstances. Even killing oneself is an attempt to protect something or someone we treasure too much to let live without an adequate treasure.

All humans desire to live from treasure or abundance because we all started out in Adam and Eve in an environment of perfect abundance. Since that perfect place and perfect spiritual abundance with the Creator was lost by looking for the false treasure of trying to be God, the hunt by humanity for treasure has been ongoing and tragic.

A sense of no treasure can drive human beings insane. Black Friday at Walmart comes to mind! Human beings without a treasure can become depressed, violent, intolerant, protective, demanding, discouraged and even suicidal. The crash of the stock market in 1929 with millionaires jumping from skyscrapers comes to mind. In all of us there is the deep sense we should have a safe treasure that is our source of abundance from which we will live. Trying to get this treasure makes some of us crazy. Protecting this treasure can make some of us dangerous. Protecting government retirement programs or government funded tuition comes to mind.

Jesus never condemns the human desire for treasure (abundance). Instead, He defines the true treasure as a return to the Creator and the Creator's Kingdom. He tells us the treasure will be kept for us as we "lay it up in heaven". He tells us that treasure is meant to keep one's heart focused. Jesus forever links treasure and the focus of the human heart. What we treasure has our heart. We don't have our treasure as much as our treasure has us.

Christianity is not a treasureless life. It is unashamedly a way of life that depends on God Himself offering to be our treasure. God is willing to be our treasure because He wants our heart. He wants our heart because when He is our treasure we are finally able to become human again. Being humanity's treasure was God's original plan.

The problem for Christians comes in when we want multiple treasures just in case the God treasure does not work out too well. The rich young ruler who went away sad when Jesus told him to sell all and give it to the poor comes to mind.

Jesus never condemned treasure or abundance. The human heart needs its treasure. He also never suggested we could mix treasures of this world with the treasure that is His Father.

Is God your great treasure? If He is, then your heart will be in the right place and you will live a life of increasing sanity called love. God as the human treasure calms and quiets the human heart. Nothing else really can.

If you have multiple treasures, then expect to live with a divided and weakened heart. As a multiple treasures person you may even do some crazy things from time to time. Don't be surprised when you do crazy things for treasures that are less than God. The wrong treasures are that powerful.

If God is your singular treasure, then don't be surprised when you do incredibly sane things like forgiving and loving. The right treasure is that powerful.

Choose your treasure wisely. It will have your heart.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Abide International is an organization dedicated to helping Christ-followers worldwide
understand and experience true satisfaction in Jesus as a moment by moment reality.

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Flesh or Spirit?

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6

As humans we try to make judgments of others using our carefully constructed human views of moral behaviors. When God judges humans he judges their birth not their behaviors. God doesn’t give us grades for behaviors. He sees our behaviors and gives them a DNA or birth test.

If the origin of any human behavior is birthed in something other than God’s Spirit it is called “flesh” and it is condemned by God as useless no matter what human standard is applied and how nice the behavior might appear to other humans. With God it is not a “pass/fail” accomplishment system. It is a “flesh/spirit” birth system.

In John 3 Jesus told a “pass/fail” leader named Nicodemos that all men and women need a new birth--including him. To say he was shocked is to put it too lightly. He was stunned. He had spent a lifetime working the “pass/fail” behavioral system and he had never once heard of the “flesh/spirit” birth system. Jesus basically told him he had wasted his time and needed to start over as a new human being.

It is never easy to free ourselves from the accomplishment system and move to the birth system. We all want to earn our standing with God instead of being born into our standing with God. Adam and Eve switched from birth to accomplishment in Genesis 3 and the effects can most clearly be called “death.” It stinks.

In our spiritual formation, we need to become accustomed to determining in our own behavior what is born of the Spirit an what is born of the flesh. Even though we now are “born again” and we have the Christ in us, we must be trained by the Holy Spirit to Identify and put off the works of the flesh. God wants us to learn to see birth over behavior in everything. The “pass/fail” system must be put to death.

This is not as difficult as it may seem for a disciple. Try this. When you are behaving in a way that needs a “birth” evaluation to see where the behavior is coming from, just ask Jesus “Is this behavior birthed in you?” You will be surprised how quickly Jesus owns what he births and how quickly He rejects what He did not birth. Remember, we focus on behavior but Jesus’ focus is on birth.

It is possible for a believer to begin in the Spirit and then try to be made perfect in the flesh. Galatians 3:2b “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Having begun in the birth system of grace are you now made perfect the the behaviors system of works? Great question!

A believer can begin experiencing things birthed in the Spirit and suddenly begin to put on behaviors that are from the flesh. Why would God permit this?

He allows this to teach us that birth matters most and no amount of good work can ever hope to birth what only the Spirit can birth. Jesus put it this way “Without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

You can also learn to look for birth not just behaviors in others. Source is more important than symptoms in our relationships. Reacting to symptoms in others is a waste of time. That is why Jesus tells us to “turn the other cheek” when someone attacks us. Striking back at a behavior cannot reach the level of birth, but turning the other cheek can.

A disciple should become a birth expert not a behavior expert. Don’t judge behaviors. Look for the source not the symptoms. Aim for the new birth of others by living as Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount. Behavior modification is not Christianity. New Birth is.

Bud McCord
Abide International