Don Goulding - Blog

Run, Don’t Walk

Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. (2 Peter 3:11-13)

I’m angry. The Garden of Eden was snatched out of my hands and I’m left in a sick, broken world. God created me to live in paradise, to see his face and to dance with angels. Instead, my brothers fight, my body hurts and I’m not at home. I’m not where I’m supposed to be. An heir of the Most High King trapped behind enemy lines in a foreign land, that’s what I am.

I can’t direct my outrage at God. He’s not the one who ruptured the world. Fellow humans aren’t my targets either, because I, too, chose sin. Satan might bear the guilt but he only aided and abetted what my wicked nature wanted. Mostly, I’m mad at me, mad at sin, mad at rebellion against Father God.

This place isn’t any kind of permanent home and I won’t accept its dysfunction. I was not made for this fallen existence just as I was not made for hell. I’m angry enough to slap away the sticky paws of temptation and walk out the gate. Jesus said he is the gate and whoever enters through him will be saved. Jesus Christ is the way out of this clinging darkness. I’m running through him and straight for home.

This life is proof enough for me, I don’t need to go to hell for conversion. I’m convinced that self-rule is disastrous, both now and eternally. So I’m committed to the holiness of God and ready for the fire of his wrath against everything that causes sin and all who do evil. The wickedness in my own heart needs to be the first to go and the burning has already begun.

I can’t take life sitting down. I am driven to action. I’m up, shaking off the darkness, rushing toward the gate.

Prayer: Saving Lord Jesus, get me out of here.

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Microwaveable Gospel

I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24) 

If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

 

“If you were to die tonight and God were to say to you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven,’ how would you answer him?” I asked a homemaker standing between the columns of her porch in Iowa. I entered her answer on the survey form and droned through my spiel. As I headed up the street, I checked the box indicating another convert had recited the sinner’s prayer. Cha-ching—I thought I heard a deposit go into my heavenly account.

I’m repenting from that naively formulaic approach to evangelism. It degrades people into conquests and ignores the reality that salvation is as much a process as it is an event. I must shun easy open, microwaveable pitches and instead, like Jesus, love others as unique creations. Above all, the Holy Spirit must enter the conversation because salvation is more about the Spirit’s enablement than it is about a prayer I can maneuver others to say.

When he asked about salvation, Nicodemus was told to be born again, the rich young ruler was encouraged to sell everything, the crowd at Pentecost was charged with repentance and baptism, while the Romans had to confess their belief with their mouths. Each response met the converts on their journey, then moved them closer to Jesus.

Hallelujah, I’ve crossed over to salvation. All the work for my pardon is completed by Jesus on the cross. However, I’m also being saved as I carry my own cross of self-denial. Thus, salvation is the bridge that joins Evangelism and Discipleship.

 

Prayer: Rescuer of souls, use me to help others on this same journey I myself am on.

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Personalized Love

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:13)

Just outside Chennai, India, a throng of bright-eyed villagers followed us hut to hut. White people were a novelty and everybody wanted a greeting or handshake. In the press around us it was impossible to engage the full beauty of each soul.

A ten-year-old boy in rags cradled a leaf over an O shape made with his finger and thumb. He slapped the leaf and it burst apart with a loud pop. To overcome the language barrier, I motioned for him to teach me his art and he adopted me as his disciple of popping. A bond was forged in that simple moment.

Later, I saw a man, presumably the boy’s Hindu father, pull the lad out of the crowd listening to my gospel presentation. My heart ached with a desire to pour a river of truth into that boy. I prayed the small, wordless interaction between us had been enough for the Holy Spirit to move him toward Christ.

Unlike me, our three in one God is able to have deep encounters with each of his of children though they number in the billions. He longs for the bond that forges when we experience him in the inner person. That’s the grace, love and fellowship Paul prays for in the verse above.

The wonder of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is that it seems so individualized, like I’m the only child in the universe. Only a unimaginably big God who’s name is love can accomplish this feat for the fifty billion souls who have trod this earth.

I was only able to share a thimble of love with the Indian boy, and in the same way I’ve only had trickles of God slip down my throat. Yet a taste of his Spirit is so potent it spreads inside until I’m changed into a new kind of person—one touched by his personal friendship.

Prayer: Beautiful triune God, may your fellowship be with me today.

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