Published: Monday, 26 February 2018 18:12
Written by Don Goulding
All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. James 1:17 (NETFull)
The weather is changing. Trees that were clothed with leaves a week ago are running about naked and giggling in the wind. Days are shorter, geese are migrating, snows are coming.
The seasonal upsets are the least disruptive of life’s many transitions. Morals, technology, and governments are in constant flux. Thousand-year-old castles crumble while pert strip malls pop from their shrink-wrap. From the expanding universe to nuclear decay, our existence is so much material fickleness in dire need of spiritual solidity.
In Scripture I encounter a refreshing consistency. God says the same things repeatedly from different angles. Lean not on your own ways is the same truth as he is the vine and I am the branch. The death angel passing over marked doorways is echoed when I escape eternal death through the blood of Jesus. My world may not be the same place it was a moment ago but when God speaks a truth, it hangs irrevocable in time.
The endurance of God’s word trumps every temporal instability. It is my one true hope. So let my opinions zigzag, let the world degenerate, even if the universe melts away—I have the unchanging promise from the Father of lights. He is the one eternal anchor that cannot bend, sway, or even vibrate.
Prayer: My Rock and my Redeemer, through all the changes, to you alone do I cling.
Published: Monday, 19 February 2018 20:21
Written by Don Goulding
The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The one who is spiritual discerns all things … But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NETFull)
I watch Chinese faces squint in passionate worship and I know why they risk gathering in the underground church. I join Africans in a praise dance, clapping out complex rhythms and shouting between lyric phrases, and I know exactly what's inside their hearts. I overhear a political fracas or gasp after the latest school shooting and a secret knowledge of the cause burns in my soul.
As a Christian, I have clearance for intelligence on the state of two opposing unions. I am briefed on what makes heaven sing and what makes hell screech, but I can’t talk about it openly. Discussions of divine glory and eternal burning appear fantastical to those who have not lifted the lens of Jesus Messiah to their eye. Yet, my revelation is too hot to hold inside.
An agent of heaven is called to apply God’s power to change what he can and commiserate with God on the rest. Jesus bequeaths us with far more authority than our enemy would have us know. We can pray down strongholds, speak the words of God, and be operatives of reconciliation. Every Joe-Christian among us needs to rise up as the spiritual warrior we were meant to be.
There are, however, struggles that are destined to continue until Christ returns. Jesus lamented Jerusalem when he longed to gather her children like a hen gathers chicks under her wings. Paul spoke of holy groaning—a deep inarticulate heartache that we are not home in God’s perfection.
I am moving through an epic tragedy with my best comrade, Jesus. We shout victory after some fights, after others we weep—in everything we are together. Throughout eternity, he and I will retell our adventures under a giddy bond because we lived them—both the heavenly and the hellish—together.
Prayer: Mighty, compassionate friend Jesus, you are in this battle with me.
Published: Monday, 12 February 2018 17:44
Written by Don Goulding
Tell the people of Zion, ʻLook, your king is coming to you, unassuming and seated on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Matthew 21:5 (NETFull)
Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Philippians 4:5 (NETFull)
The live green movement attempts to bring health to our planet. It’s an environmentally gentle approach to life that encourages a minimal ecological footprint. That’s a fancy way of saying we limit our use of natural resources. Advertisers apply the slogans of live green and sustainability to everything from light bulbs to automobiles.
There is a way to live green spiritually. The Bible enjoins us to adopt a gentle spirit, which is to say a minimal earthly footprint. Our presence on earth should be weightless, gracious, and a benefit to everything we touch.
Do I have a gentle spirit with my family, my colleagues, my finances—what about with my driving or with my enemies? Am I quick to give and slow to take from others? I am called to leave a verdant path of encouragement, not a thorny trail of criticism.
To live green does not mean I become a spineless patsy. There was no gentler person than Jesus Christ and yet no one has ever had his moxie. Gentleness simply means I sacrifice my temporal existence for the good of others, not for what they may want but for their eternal good.
A wisteria vine sends out a delicate tendril that can later bend steel pipes and break cement foundations. Just so, my life should be tender and fragrant but driven by life-bending conviction. That’s living green.
Prayer: Father, may my footprint be small on earth and large in your kingdom.