Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Words of Jesus

Author and Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck says in his book  The Road Less Travelled that there are four disciplines for learning how to suffer and how to grow.

"What are these tools, these techniques of suffering, these means of experienciing the pain of problems constructively that I call discipline?  There are four: delaying gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balance"
Pg. 18  The Road Less Travelled

He goes on to say that the learning of these disciplines is to be best found in stable family life.  I couldn't agree more!

His discussiion of delaying gratification really caught my attention. He defines delaying gratification as
"a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with.  It is the only decent way to live." pg.19 The Road Less Travelled

When I read an author like M. Scott Peck I admire how passionate and caring people like Dr. Peck are. He has helped thousands live as better people.  People like Dr. Peck desire to bless and to help.  They are inspiring people!    Even so, I always take what any author says to Jesus' words to see if their words resonate with Jesus.

When I took these quotes to Jesus' words I felt a resonating and a discord.  The resonating was in Dr. Peck's call to deal with the pain first.  The discord was with the idea that I need to schedule my pleasure and my pain.

I hear Jesus telling me to delay gratification through the pain of cross bearing as I get on with first loving those I need to love.  Loving others will most certainly require the delay of gratification in most cases.

I hear Jesus telling me that His Father will schedule the pain and the pleasure according to His will and not mine. Scheduling pain or pleasure on my own is beyond my grasp of all that is happening in God's plan.  I can't hear Jesus saying  "Wait!  This is the time I scheduled for pleasure!"   I can hear Jesus saying "If love requires that I suffer first and then find pleasure, I will."

I agree with Dr. Peck that the inability to delay gratification is deadly to life and to love.  I think the four disciplines Dr. Peck uses to help hurting people solve many of the problems of life really do help.

Even so, I always take my words or any other person's words to Jesus' words and listen for resonance or discord.  Jesus must be the final word on all of our words if we ever hope to be healthy, loving human beings.

"My sheep hear my voice..." John 10:27

Bud McCord
Abide International

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Satisfying LIfe in Brazil

Teaching here in Brazil is a privilege.  The Brazilian people are so open to learn and grow in their faith.  It is a beautiful moment in the life of the churches.

I recently had the privilege of teaching the course The Satisfying LIfe to over 120 members of the Christian Community Church in the city of Cianorte in southern Brazil.   During three consecutive nights of intense instruction the entire group showed up on time and stayed until 10 PM.

Led by a dynamic young pastor named Bruno this 7 year old church is reaching its city through social ministries like their ministry to men addicted to drugs.  I was also privileged to speak to the 21 men who are spending 9 months in their  program of recovery at a small farm near the city.

The total membership of the church is over 500 and  they opened a new church location in there city while I was there.

Tomorrow, August 16 I head to a small city called Catu in northern Brazil for four days of teaching.

Pray that this openness will continue here in Brazil.  Bud McCord

Becoming the Real You

"The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want...."
Psalm 23:1

How many different ways has this passage been interpreted down through the centuries!  In my brief years on earth I have heard this passage quoted as much or more than any other in the Bible. It is powerful, but what does it really mean?

Just the other night I preached a sermon on these words and a woman here in Brazil told me she put these exact words on her car 16 years ago and then cancelled her car insurance as a statement of faith!  Her car was stolen.

She told me her story because she realized after hearing my sermon that she had not understood what the words really meant.  Sixteen years is long time to wait to get these words right!

Since David says we are God's flock it is clear that this passage is not a statement of material wealth or a promise God will guard our car.  Sheep don't accumulate things or drive!   It is a statement that says we will not lack anything to become the kind of sheep the Shepherd wants us to become. The statement says you will be given by God whatever you need to become the real you.  God will provide for you to become truly human!

So, if we can figure out why humans exist and what it means to be truly human then the verse becomes clear.  As always in any seach for understanding humans we must begin with Jesus!  He is what God intended and still intends for humans!

When we start with Jesus' statement in Luke 10:26-28 that says we humans exist to love God and love our neighbors, then we can say based on Jesus' words and on Psalm 23 that we will never lack what we need become people who can love those we are called to love.  We shall not want for the resources and abilities that we need to love God and love our neighbor. We exist to love and God will make able to do this.

This makes perfect sense.   A Shepherd would never knowingly fail to provide for his flock whatever it needed to become what he wants the flock to become.  Why  bother caring for sheep without providing for them what is needed to reach the goal you have  in mind for them?

God has in mind for us that we would be able to love Him and love our neighbor like Jesus did. This is why we exist.  He will provide what it takes for this to happen.  Jesus is God's provision for us and in us so we can becomel this kind of human being!

Truly, humans who are the sheep of His pasture will have all they need to become what He has in mind.

Luke 12:32 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

Bud McCord
Abide International

Monday, August 06, 2012

Love--Our Only Argument

"All of God lives in Christ fully" Col. 2:9
"God is love" I John 4:16

There are no shortages of arguments in the world. People are on edge and very, very quick to disagree.  Though this is not new to humanity it is our time to deal with this human tendency toward arguing.

It takes a revelation from God in Christ to finally show us the way forward in a world that only wants to argue.  The way forward is to make love our only argument. Love is the only argument God uses.  This is a revelation we find only in Jesus.

Reading about Jesus' life it appears at times that He is oblivious to the arguments swirling around him. At times He seems completely detached from the political and social realities around Him.  To be honest, at flrst glance He seems to be almost uncaring.

A man shouted out to Jesus and ordered Him to tell His brother to do the right thing by dividing an inheritance with Him. Jesus says...."Who made Me a judge or arbitrator overy you?"  He doesn't agree to help.  He doesn't offer to pray.  He tells the man to be careful with greed which would destroy his soul and stop his love.

Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.  But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” Luke 12:13-14

To follow Jesus is to make love your only argument. It is not as if we have nothing to say as disciples. We all do!  It is just that we can only say it with love if we will be like Jesus.

When I think of all the things I want to say about the reality of this world my blood boils and I am ready for an argument.

When Jesus thought of all the things He wanted to say about the reality of this world, He shed His blood.

Jesus is God's final statement about everything. It should be mine as well.


Bud McCord
Abide International