Published: Monday, 14 January 2019 18:36
Written by Don Goulding
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that those who do not see may gain their sight, and the ones who see may become blind.” John 9:39 (NETFull)
The sanctuary was crowded with squirming kids. All week the vacation Bible school told us how much God loved us and how everybody needed Jesus as Savior. The message saturated my eleven-year-old heart and pumped through my veins, right up to my eyes. Things looked different. A black chasm of sin appeared between me and the ball of light that was God. When the man at the front said come forward if you want Jesus to forgive you, I went.
I woke the next day and my vision was still different. I saw that my mother also followed my new friend, Jesus. She gave me a paperback New Testament with funny stick figures inside and I couldn’t stop reading it. My new eyes made me understand things I’d previously missed, like why I needed to stop fighting with my sisters.
Time dulled my new sight. During my teenage years I focused on the offerings of this dark world. I was going blind again.
As my special vision faded, God told me to get it back or give it up forever. I was nineteen and he held out an offer to join a traveling missionary group, or I could stay with my drugy friends. It was time to really choose. I had looked into an existence of light and I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t there. I chose the difficult process of training my focus on God’s kingdom. It continues today.
Life is as simple as choosing what to see. I have to be blind in one way or the other—to the world or to eternity. I can only turn my head toward one reality at a time. If the world system is the object of my sight, then my faith crumbles to death. When I stare at eternity, the world grows dim and truth solidifies into the person of Jesus.
Prayer: Exalted One, I can see and you are a beautiful sight.
Published: Monday, 07 January 2019 17:24
Written by Don Goulding
The Lord God formed out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. Genesis 2:19 (NETFull)
An African farmer introduced me to his three elephants—Mary, Boxy and Shorty. They were characters who snatched the man’s hat away in a game of keep-away.
You can tell an elephant’s personality by how it uses its trunk. They greet each other by intertwining trunks and even have special trunk displays for courtship and mother-child interactions. Some twist around objects to the left, others to the right.
As I reached into Mary’s mouth to lay oranges on her tongue, Boxy and Shorty groped inside my coat with their trunks for more fruit. These were outgoing, curious friends and it was a pleasure to make their acquaintance.
In the Garden of Eden an anointed relationship was inaugurated between animals and humans. We were to co-govern God’s wooly, scaly and feathered creatures. Instead, we brought curses into the world and our relationship with animals went topsy-turvy. They no longer enjoyed our protection but became our sacrificial offerings, or the exact opposite, our gods.
Even today we seem to use animals for sport hunting or worship them under the guise of domesticated pets. The balance conferred on us in Eden disappeared into a gray fog. In my lifetime, one half of the world’s wild animals died due to human destruction of habitat. I don’t want the blood of that crime on my hands. I must rediscover my calling to godly husbandry.
Living in the post crucifixion of Jesus era, I have a chance to right a few wrongs. I can boycott unsustainable harvests, speak against animal cruelty, and use care that I don’t spend more on my pets than I do on God’s kingdom. If I’m truly filled with the Spirit of Christ, he’ll show me a great many ways to reverse this double-edged war against creation.
To Mary, Boxy and Shorty, I want to say, “I’ve been on the wrong side of your suffering. Now let me love and protect you.”
Prayer: Father, help me care for your creation.
Published: Monday, 31 December 2018 17:33
Written by Don Goulding
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? James 2:5 (NETFull)
Grandpa took my cousin and me deep-sea fishing. The early morning salt air had our schoolboy nerves at DEFCON one. We were so consumed by fishing with Grandpa that everything took on new proportions—like the shark a man caught early on.
My young mind was etched with the shock of the deckhand beating the creature’s head on the rail. An hour later, the shark thrashed in its gunnysack and they thumped it asunder yet again. By the end of the trip the animal was still gulping for air.
More recently, a shark of a different kind became etched on my mind. A Chinese pastor in the underground church wanted to know if it was true that people are poor because they fail to claim physical blessings from God. I recalled this heresy from American televangelists, running into it in Nigeria, and here it was again. How many times did we have to beat this carnivorous lie over the head?
I coached my pastor friend from 1 Timothy 6:5 that says godliness is not a means to monetary profit. He seemed hesitant to accept my explanation—probably because our old nature never wants to let go of the comfort money buys.
I’m quick to sermonize the religion of poverty but, yikes, the shark is after me too. In my world we’ve learned to call it something other than prosperity gospel but eavesdrop on our conversations and you’ll hear about our purchases and not about the kingdom of God. We put our mouth where our money is.
I’m an animal lover and I never want to harm God’s creatures. My prosperity shark, however, is the one predator I will continually bash on the head.
Prayer: Lord Christ, make me rich in faith and poor in my concern for wealth.