Published: Monday, 18 March 2019 16:24
Written by Don Goulding
I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. (2 Samuel 6:21-22) (NIV)
In West Africa they use a method of collecting offerings I call boogie for bucks. The worship band cuts loose with a beat that would make a Buckingham Palace guard tap his foot. Men, women and children in bright Sunday finery form a Conga line and dance past the offering box where they drop off the goods.
On a Sunday forever etched into my memory, I visited a church that added a new twist to boogie for bucks. I couldn’t understand the Nigerian instructions but recognized the offering song. Eager to demonstrate my grasp of their culture, I jumped into the line, money in hand.
It was somewhere past the box, as I shook my bootie in place, that several observations stole over me. First, compared to the other worshipers, I was painfully rhythm challenged. Second, every eye was on me. Third, the men were still seated and only the women danced with me. There was nothing to do except boogie all the long way around the church and back to my chair and enjoy my lesson in humility.
Whether it’s boogie for bucks or singing hymns, one of the richest gifts to earthbound saints is corporate worship. I may exalt God privately all week but I still love to gather with believers for praise and celebration. Like a sip from the throne room in heaven, it strengthens me to join others touched by God.
What matters during worship is not if our service is traditional or contemporary, but if it is genuine. Nothing is as boring as false liturgy or fake ecstasy. When I look at you or you look at me and we recognize someone so moved by the King of Kings that we transcend caring what others think, that’s dignified worship.
Prayer: Mighty God, help me get over myself and worship you.
Published: Monday, 11 March 2019 16:25
Written by Don Goulding
But you must return to your God,
by maintaining love and justice,
and by waiting for your God to return to you. (Hosea 12:6)
An Australian electrician took his annual holiday in the nearby Fiji Islands. He met a pretty seventeen-year-old minor named Joy and promised to marry her. When the girl became pregnant, he ran back to Australia without further contact.
A year later the electrician returned to Fiji for another holiday of parties. He tried to hook up with a friend of Joy’s by using his old lines.
The two girlfriends confronted him. “This baby is yours and you know it. The least you could do is help with food and diapers.”
The electrician denied responsibility and left the young mother to her tears and poverty.
Dani and I tried to get justice for Joy. We met with legal counsel, waited in courtrooms, and attempted service of the summons for a paternity test and trial. While the electrician hid from the summons, the judge berated Joy for bad decisions until she broke down in tears and gave up. No amount of counseling motivated her to pursue justice. Joy was done getting emotionally pummeled.
In professional sports, the moment a ball goes out of bounds a referee blows a whistle or a flag goes down. I go bonkers when life doesn’t work the same way and victims can’t get immediate justice.
The truth I often forget is that while we live in a universe of absolute justice, it is delayed justice. That Australian electrician didn’t get away with anything and neither do I when I sin. Every misdeed is written into the books John saw in Revelation 12. We are accountable for every moment.
Joy taught me a vital lesson. She knew when to release her perpetrator into God’s hands. Where the human judicial system failed her, Jehovah’s great white throne will prevail. The biblical promise that every action will be judged frees me from tracking the guilt of others. I can focus on repenting from my own sins.
Joy and I have a huge advantage over the electrician. Every sin we commit is transferred to the cross of our Savior. “Unjust,” some would cry. Indeed, it is unjust that innocent Jesus suffered for guilty us. That’s the only injustice permitted by heaven.
Prayer: Jesus my righteous Judge, I rest in your justice.
Published: Monday, 04 March 2019 17:09
Written by Don Goulding
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
The Hungarian countryside was like those repeating backgrounds in cartoons. In a hamlet of tile roofed houses, we negotiated a horse plodding before a cart heaped with manure. Regaining the open road, we passed a farmer and his smock clad wife pitchforking compost around verdant crops. Then the scenes repeated with humorous predictability.
The key to Hungary’s agricultural triumph is organic fertilizer. While other countries spew chemicals over crops, Hungarians have mastered the art of repurposing animal waste. It’s an art because spread too thinly the plants starve, whereas an application that is too thick burns vegetables under the potency.
Raising up a crop of salvation is much the same. It needs harvesters armed with fertilizer. In Hungary, and in other places, I’ve witnessed the impact of fertilizing the spiritual harvest field with monetary resources. If insufficient funds are given, the gospel starves and souls languish toward hell. If money is indiscriminately heaped on, the gospel burns under materialism.
Sadly, I found the fields infested with harvesters who’s first priority was physical comfort. Then I also had the joy of meeting missionaries to their own countries like Rufus in India and Dave in Zimbabwe. These servants were so consumed with bringing others to Christ that seeking daily sustenance was often ignored as a nuisance.
Not too thin, not too thick simply means that in addition to sending finances, I roll up my sleeves and hoe a few rows alongside missionaries. Time spent in their world should not become micromanagement but merely an opportunity to reveal those true artists of gospel fertilizer whom I am to support with finances, prayer and relationship.
Prayer: Lord of the harvest, what a privilege to pray and pay for workers.