Don Goulding - Blog

Kingdom Staples

MVC 394FFor the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

After preaching in Ivory Coast, I was invited to the pastor’s house for the Sunday meal. He led me into a Liberian refugee settlement. We ducked through the doorway into his shack made from scraps of wood and tin. The impoverished people of the earth are often the most generous. 

The pastor’s wife served the West African staple of garri. It’s made of cassava roots that are ground, dried, and later boiled into a mush thick as Play-Doh. Garri is tasteless and hard to swallow unless there’s something to dip it into.

My hosts also served a stew of greens with morsels of meat. We pinched off each bite of garri, dipped it in the delicious sauce, and gulp, down it went.

The kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace, and joy, but these staples must be dipped in an anointing of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness is never satisfied with my performance, it sticks in my throat and won’t go down. The peace and joy I generate are so tasteless they never touch me inside. Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is impossible.

The reason Jesus cleansed us by his sacrifice was to fill us with the Holy Spirit. We get tangled up over the signs and gifts of the Spirit, but the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—can’t be counterfeited. They are living proof that Spirit filling isn’t an optional Christian add-on, it is Christianity.

When I dip righteousness under the Spirit’s leading, doing good tastes marvelous. I crave helping others and practicing honesty. I grow insatiable for truth and self-sacrifice. Without warning, peace and joy fill my mouth.

The kingdom of God is not about food and drink, but it is about staples that taste delicious with the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Spirit of God, flood my heart with your righteousness, peace, and joy.

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Everything Necessary

Zambizi… his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3)

Dani and I had to leave Zimbabwe for at least forty-eight hours to obtain new visas. We planned on driving north two hundred and fifty kilometers and staying in neighboring Zambia. The Zimbabwean government wouldn’t let their currency out of the country, so we drove to a lonely road near the border and, at the Lord’s prompting, buried the Zims we’d need on return.

After driving through the no-man’s land separating the countries, the Zambian guards examined our American passports with eager whispers. They demanded high fees in US cash, more than we were willing to pay.

Wondering if God was still with us, we drove back to the mango tree that marked the Zimbabwean border. A guard took pity on us and exchanged our Zambian money for Zims so we could pay to re-enter Zimbabwe. We’d only been gone an hour but, contrary to normal policy, he stamped our passports for new visas.

We dug up our money, bought dried fish for the mission station, then prayed for fuel. All the petrol stations were dry. After a half dozen inquiries, we were directed to the back of a hotel that sold from barrels. We filled up, but now our Zims were nearly spent. 

God warned against staying at the hotel, so we drove to an intersection and prayed again. We felt the Spirit say, “Go left,” and followed a barely discernible gravel road. We arrived at some beautiful chalets on the Zambezi River, but without food.

A butcher weighed his smallest chicken, sliced off one leg, then the other, then a wing until it was affordable with our remaining Zims. The Africans in the local market laughed with me at the impoverished white man.

Sunset turned the sky burnt-orange as fireflies zipped across the midnight-blue river. And our three-quarters chicken was a gourmet meal. Life doesn't get any richer.

Navigating with Jesus is actually a fun adventure because he provides everything necessary for life and godliness.

Prayer: Lord, I’ll seek your provision to do your will.

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Hold On

ocean 2I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown. The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. (Revelation 3:11-12)

A friend of mine, Pete Schichtel, was a U.S. Coast Guard pilot flying a search and rescue pattern off the Florida coast. Twenty-four hours earlier, a hired boat driver abandoned two women while they were SCUBA diving. They surfaced to find themselves in the middle of an empty sea, no boat in sight.

“Lord, keep them safe,” Pete said as he squinted into the empty blue. “We need your help.”

The sun lowered to the horizon and time was running out. The victims could float with their inflatable dive vests, but they would succumb to hypothermia in the night, if they hadn’t already.

Halfway through a grid tack, Pete caught a glimmer of something in the water. Maybe a couple of floats used for commercial fishing. As he investigated, he realized it was the divers waving pink and green swim flippers.

“Praise God!”

A short time later, the survivors were pulled from the water by a helicopter.

I, too, am abandoned on the ocean. While I was busy exploring the world, Satan drove away and left me to drown. Now I’m bobbing on an empty sea with no help in sight.

Jesus prophesied about rescue, but how long will that take? Will I survive until he comes?

In the mean time, the only thing keeping me afloat is faith. The watery tracts pull at my legs, I’m swamped by waves and tugged by currents, and I cling to my small belief.

I tried the flotsam and jetsam of the world, but it sank when I put my weight on it. Faith is the only option left to me. To let it go is to yield to death without hope. 

No one else can save me, only Jesus. I have to clutch faith in him to my chest, stop flailing, and wait. He promised he’s coming soon.

Prayer: Savior, strengthen my faith to hold on.

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