Published: Monday, 15 April 2019 14:28
Written by Don Goulding
You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying,
“This is the correct way, walk in it,”
whether you are heading to the right or the left. (Isaiah 30:21)
I’m directionally challenged. I’ve been lost in Spain, China, Panama City, the Fijian jungle and the Canadian ocean, to name only some of the places. To travel with me is to spend significant blocks of time puzzling over our location.
Enter GPS mapping technology. Thank you Jesus. Somewhere in the unseen space above, satellites beam location data to my smartphone. A pleasant voice says, “Turn right in five hundred feet.” Whether I’m on land or sea I know where I am and where to go.
We also have a GPS for life—the Holy Spirit. Like my phone, the Spirit is always with me here on earth but he stays in communion with my Father in heaven and relays love and direction to my heart. It’s possible for me to navigate life with perfect serenity.
The arrangement breaks down because I use the wrong communication protocol. Rather than hear an audible voice, I must strain my entire being toward him. He wants to infuse who he is into my life. The best way I know to absorb him is to saturate myself with Scripture.
Without the Holy Spirit I can’t understand the Bible and without the objective truth of the Bible, I listen to the wrong spirits. I need both working together—the quickening of the Holy Spirit and the grounding of the written Word of God.
I would have expected God’s GPS to give me directions like, “In one year there will be an obstacle of death of a loved one, so get ready, and in a month you’ll turn right onto job change boulevard.” Instead, the stream I receive is, “I love you, I’m with you, peace, joy, you are mine, turn left now, I love you.” My life plans are only revealed on a need to know basis, and mostly, I don’t need to know because my gracious Father is in control, not me.
God’s main message repeated to my simple heart is, “I love you.” When I receive that, I find I know where I’m going, to whom I belong, and what to do in the next moment.
Prayer: Sweet Holy Spirit, help me receive your stream of guiding love.
Published: Monday, 08 April 2019 15:07
Written by Don Goulding
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3) (NIV)
In the Winnie the Pooh story by A. A. Milne, Rabbit suggests they cure Tigger of his bouncing by losing him in the woods overnight.
“Oh, we'll find him again next morning, and mark my words, he'll be a humble Tigger, a sad and small Tigger, an ‘Oh, Rabbit, am I glad to see you’ Tigger. And it'll take the bounces out of him, that's what!”
The misguided plan backfires and it’s Rabbit himself who gets lost. His friends rescue him and he comes out of the long night humbled from his pride.
When it comes to nonessential doctrines, I feel like Rabbit. I used to be confident of my beliefs and critical of those who differed. I reveled in debates to prove my points but what came out of my mouth was often intended to make me win rather than magnify Jesus.
Students of theology are soon faced with a bramble of opinions and the thorny disagreements that have plagued church history. They learn how wholly inadequate human speech is for heavenly truths and feel the prickliness of wordy debates. They realize navigation by human intellect without direction from the Holy Spirit leaves us thrashing in circles far removed from God’s path.
It’s time to stop pretending I or any human can fully elucidate subjects like predestination or eschatology. I must admit I’m Rabbit, lost in the dark woods, afraid and confused. I can’t get myself free of the tangle of nonessential doctrines.
From outside the forest I hear voices. Jesus and my truest friends are searching for me. They’re calling me out of the maelstrom. I no longer have to systematize biblical conundrums. I need only follow the voice of Jesus, return to his simple gospel, and let him bring me past the doctrinal thickets into the full light of grace.
I went into the bramble of secondary doctrines with an attitude of “I have answers that will unbounce others.” I’m coming out of those same woods a broken Rabbit, an “Oh, Jesus, am I glad to see you” Rabbit.
Prayer: King Jesus, may humility close my mouth except to glorify you.
Published: Monday, 01 April 2019 15:21
Written by Don Goulding
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3) (NIV)
A young missionary couple took me aside at a party.
“Can we tell you about how we met?” blonde Californian Leah said.
“I really wanted to attend Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe but I had a brain tumor. As churches around the world prayed, a torrent of God’s peace swirled through my heart. It grew into an all-consuming flood. I wanted it to swallow me. I told my doctor I would forego treatment and trust God. He told me I was foolish.”
Leah enthusiastically sold her belongings in preparation for college or death. Whichever came first was fine with her.
Balazs took over the story with his Hungarian accent. “I was forced to drop out of college because I had aggressive testicular cancer and less than a ten percent chance of survival. As hundreds prayed for me, bubbling peace filled my heart also. I didn’t know Leah who lived on the other side of the world but I knew the same overwhelming peace she discovered.
“My body wasted away until I could wrap my thumbs and fingers around my thigh. I grew eager to meet the source of my amazing peace.
“When treatments were no help, I discontinued them and waited to see how I would win—with a miraculous cure or go to heaven. The doctors fought my decision with legal actions, calling it suicide, but I laughed and continued to trust in God alone.”
Back in America, Leah’s doctor raised his eyebrows in amazement over her latest test results. The tumor had disappeared. As a result, he became a Christian, quit his practice and left for the mission field.
Leah left for Bible college in Hungary. Leah met Balazs. They had a lot in common, including God’s peace and a miraculous cure that later came to Balazs as well.
“He asked me to marry him and I couldn't resist his handsome smile.” Leah’s eyes beamed at her husband. “Now we live only for God.”
After his parables, Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” His point was that some stories are meant to change the listeners. This is one of them.
Prayer: Prince of Peace, reign in my heart above all else.