Don Goulding - Blog

Small Moments

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Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

The space around them suffused with a presence of holy goodness so tangible that it felt like liquid, rather than air. An intoxicating radiance danced through their bodies, and goosebumps waved over their skin. Moses in the cleft of the rock, Solomon in the glory filled temple, the apostles atop the Mount of Transfiguration, John deep in an apocalyptic trance–encounters with the glory of God that forged spiritual giants from clay mortals.

Now here I come, as common a duffer as any who lived. Yet, Jesus offers me a blessing in faith that can exceed what Moses and Elijah received. He says it comes of believing without seeing. What those who behold undeniable miracles have is not faith but experience, and yet, faith is what pleases God (Heb. 11:6). He desires that we love him and not his pyrotechnic miracles.

I spoke with the Lord on this theme as I performed one of those unspectacular but precious life tasks—walking my seventeen-month-old grandson in the park. Jesus showed me that, as I love Jaden, God loves me. He demonstrated how I could engage as much of his glory in that small moment as in any Mount Carmel fire from heaven extravaganza. It’s beside the calm waters of a simple life where whispers of God’s truth are heard the loudest.

God’s desire is that my heart would look for encounters with him in each bite of daily bread. By this means, a faith more precious than that of our Bible heroes may yet grow.

Prayer: Lord, give me heroic faith through small things.

Sitting on the Sin Brat

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For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. (Romans 7:22, 23)

Spiritual growth only comes to me with bloody violence. My old Mr. Sin Nature is a wily beast. One of his tricks is showy enthusiasm for biblical head knowledge. He encourages me to study and memorize scripture, but his slimy goal is preoccupation from living out the truth.

Another Mr. Sin Nature tactic is to read the Bible too quickly. He won’t hold still under the stinging poultice of a few chosen words, and instead, prefers entertainment by the storyline. These, and other ploys, force me to sit on the urchin.

I begin in a place where I can be alone with Jesus. I ask what heart work needs the most attention, then read no more than a chapter of Scripture. How I choose where to read matters little as God maneuvers any method to get me where he wants. I find he consistently points me to what I need.

Next, I let the Spirit highlight the handful of words on which I’m to focus. Then I wrestle with my squirming old nature, and pin him under those words until he squeals, “I give.” Repentant prayer and brief journaling knock the final wind out of the monster.

I have to repeat this process each morning because, after years of letting the sin nature run wild, he thinks he can poke his nose into every good thought. Only when I’m methodical and strong handed is he containable. For now, I have to cohabit with the rascal, but I have another guest who forces him to sit in the corner. I need Jesus in my house every hour. Not only does he pardon my keeping the sin brat, but he also helps me babysit the wretch.

Prayer: Lion of Judah, this is war. Help me overcome myself.

Don’t Look Down

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Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13, 14)

It’s scary to look back on our failures. Before Jesus, we had to look back. It was the age of backward looking. The law required strict record keeping of slips and gains. Everything depended on my ability to climb God’s impossibly holy mountain. I was nervous, and grew sick from my guilt. It’s a dismal existence when a flawed human is forced to live looking back on his mistakes.

Jesus paid a dear price to keep us from the fright of looking back. How blessed I am to live in the age of looking forward. Because of the substitution on the cross, the failures of my past are nonexistent. They have been erased from the annals of time, forever removed from God’s books. Whatever mistakes I make between now and heaven will also crumble into oblivion the instant the present becomes the past.

I look down the mountain, and there is nothing but a few bright successes, and many blank voids where my sins used to be. It’s a rather boring view. Up ahead–now that’s a wondrous landscape. The way is steep, but in the treacherous places, there are colorful future successes. The top is crowned with yellow-white beams from the paradise wherein my Favorite dwells.

Satan wants us to look back until we sit down and stop climbing from discouragement. I won’t fall for it. For me, from here on out, there is only forward.

Prayer: King Jesus, keep me looking forward to you.