Don Goulding - Blog

Crossing Fences

232911 fenceFor God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. (John 3:17)

“Bothell, has anyone ever told you that you’re a strange Christian?” Rupert said over his white picket fence.

“I’m a strange Christian? What do you mean?” Bothell thought about the other fence that divided them.

“Most people shun Georgi and me, they don’t want our type in the neighborhood. If you know what I mean.” Rupert nodded toward another house. “But you’ve been a real friend. Not that I’m complaining, but it’s not what we’ve come to expect.”

Bothell smiled at Rupert’s florescent yellow and pink robe. He sent a silent prayer up, Lord give me the right words.

“When I read my Bible I don’t see that Jesus condemned anybody except the self-righteous. He was a friend of sinners like me.” Rupert seemed to be tracking. “I hope what you see in me is a little of the real Jesus. You and Georgi are loved.”

“Oh, you are just so sweet.” Rupert reached over the fence with a hug and a flutter of pats.

“Rupert, on behalf of Christians I apologize that we’re judgmental. It’s very wrong. We’re all sinners who need forgiveness and second chances to do better. That’s why Jesus came.” 

Rupert’s eyes moistened and Bothell knew the fence between them was dissolving.

Prayer: Savior of the world, lead me across fences.

Mood Chameleon

chameleon on branchFor I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

Many years ago Dani was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She recently underwent another MRI scan and the doctor called to discuss the results. There was no sign of the disease as recorded on previous tests. The mailed copy of the report confirmed this, and we were torn between celebration and confusion over the continuing symptoms. 

About three days later a second report arrived. The first result applied to the neck and the second to the brain, where the disease showed itself plainly. I was ecstatic with the first diagnosis and grieved by the second.

I’m a chameleon that changes moods according to the events in my life. God tries to mature my fickleness. “Don’t blend with the pleasures, or the problems of the world. Adapt to the blessedness you have for eternity.”

But it’s difficult to adapt to blessedness while I’m fighting my way through life’s jungle. What I need is a bird’s eye view of my situation. Looking down on my tiny life, I comprehend trials in the context of eternity. God doesn’t cause pain, he offers the remedy, he uses it for refinement, and he limits it to but a few of the years on my unending timeline. All that said, I still don’t like suffering while I’m in the chaos, but I will later because of the gains it brings.

If I’ve sworn allegiance to Jesus, then forgiveness, eternal healing, and glory are the backdrops for my life. They are my unchanging realities. When my attitude turns gray, I need to focus on my backdrops, and change my color to razzle-dazzle-yellow.

Prayer: Everlasting Father, help me adapt my mood to paradise with you.

Love Deeply

Sol Islnds PoolNow that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22) (NIV)

It was a simple scene—a dilapidated mobile home, a dying tree, and a rope-swing. The Holy Spirit used these three elements to expose a rotting cavity in my soul. 

Lightening had shattered the top half of the tree until it looked like a hunched man. Any decent arborist would have cut the thing down.

But what about the swing? There must have been a child that treasured the stumpy oak. The rundown house hinted that the tree-swing may be the kid’s only solace. He or she would grow up with fond memories of the dear bent trunk—the eyesore I would’ve removed.

My fixation with perfection leaves a void in my heart. If a tree isn’t symmetrical, I want it chopped. If a human isn’t beautiful or rational, I want them to change. When a disciple backslides, I disregard them. I only love God’s creation when it measures up to my judgmental standards.

My heart needs to repent because real love doesn’t care if the recipient has value. It simply overflows the goodwill it receives from God, without regard to where the overabundance spills.

While serving in the Solomon Islands, Melanesian boys led me to their favorite hiking destination in the jungle. An emerald pool overflowed crystal water down a waterfall and into another fern-laced swimming hole.

From the purity of God’s being his love overflows my heart. For me to look down and decide the next pool is undeserving goes against every natural law. It dams up the river that I would drink from in heaven.

Prayer: Jesus, help me pour love into whomever you put beside me.