Published: Monday, 12 February 2018 17:44
Written by Don Goulding
Tell the people of Zion, ʻLook, your king is coming to you, unassuming and seated on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Matthew 21:5 (NETFull)
Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Philippians 4:5 (NETFull)
The live green movement attempts to bring health to our planet. It’s an environmentally gentle approach to life that encourages a minimal ecological footprint. That’s a fancy way of saying we limit our use of natural resources. Advertisers apply the slogans of live green and sustainability to everything from light bulbs to automobiles.
There is a way to live green spiritually. The Bible enjoins us to adopt a gentle spirit, which is to say a minimal earthly footprint. Our presence on earth should be weightless, gracious, and a benefit to everything we touch.
Do I have a gentle spirit with my family, my colleagues, my finances—what about with my driving or with my enemies? Am I quick to give and slow to take from others? I am called to leave a verdant path of encouragement, not a thorny trail of criticism.
To live green does not mean I become a spineless patsy. There was no gentler person than Jesus Christ and yet no one has ever had his moxie. Gentleness simply means I sacrifice my temporal existence for the good of others, not for what they may want but for their eternal good.
A wisteria vine sends out a delicate tendril that can later bend steel pipes and break cement foundations. Just so, my life should be tender and fragrant but driven by life-bending conviction. That’s living green.
Prayer: Father, may my footprint be small on earth and large in your kingdom.
Published: Monday, 05 February 2018 18:16
Written by Don Goulding
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. John 17:24 (NETFull)
For years I heard Venice, Italy was the most romantic city in the world. Friends spewed about the gondolas, cathedrals, works of art, and blah, blah, blah. Their descriptions and pictures bored me.
Then one year we visited the famous “City of Light” for ourselves. Only when I rode the boats, explored the maze of bridges, watched fireworks drape golden sparkles over St. Mark’s Square, and heard an orchestra bounce music from the walls of an ancient church did I realize how understated the descriptions had been.
Like my difficulty with Venice, I have a tough time gaining a full appreciation for all that Jesus is. The reason I live with doubt, fear, and conflict is because I underestimate the scope of his majesty. If I truly grasped his sufficiency to absolve sin, I wouldn’t worry about how others judge me. If I would fully see the glory God gave to Jesus after his trials, I would rest in what God is doing through my own trials.
Jesus existed before there was time. He currently holds everything together. He is Immanuel (God with us) and I Am (the name God gave himself) and Jesus (which means God saves). He is the Righteous Judge all men are destined to face, the Word of God, and the light in paradise.
But these encyclopedic facts on their own don’t penetrate my heart. Only when I grab his hand over the stony paths of life, and trust his guidance over bridges of change, and see his provision for places of grace do I begin to grasp the breadth of Jesus. It is in the daily experiential union with Christ that the facts about his majesty become real to my heart.
Prayer: Holy Awesome Lord Jesus, let me experience life with you.
Published: Monday, 29 January 2018 19:25
Written by Don Goulding
His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. Song. 2:6 (NIV)
We were three man-friends trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A rogue bear cleaned out our treed food cache. The shortest way out was to cram two days of hiking into one day and climb over a 14,000 foot peak. Survival mode kicked in and we plied the stream for fish and combed the meadow for edible plants and roots.
Drawing on our wilderness savvy to overcome a bit of peril bonded us as guys. It was a grand adventure. We emerged from the woods a few pounds lighter but high on testosterone.
Outside I might act the self-sufficient manly man but spiritually I’m vulnerable as a trembling schoolgirl. Demons swoop about my head while my own flesh threatens to dash my faith on the rocks of sin. I’m defenseless and weak-willed, exposed and shaking. I don’t need a far away, one-day-when-god but one who can hold me through the dark night.
Jesus pulls me into his embrace and tells me to stay low. If I rise to my feet of self-effort, he can’t guarantee protection. His left hand cushions my skull against the hardness of life as he whispers promises that drive fear away. I wonder at our intimacy when he has billions who depend on him. Still, his right arm—the symbol of his might and power—is around my waist. It protects me from attacks and keeps me from bolting.
This is the Savior I need. Not one who adds me to his list of followers then marches away but one who keeps me close until the storms are over. I can’t endure the horror of the world without a shielding lover and so I’ll never survive if I squirm from his embrace. The manly thing to do is to recognize my dire need and curl under his strong embrace.
Prayer: Mighty Lover, don’t let me go.