Published: Sunday, 22 May 2016 10:16
Written by Don Goulding
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is Godʼs power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 NET_FL)
“Stomp ‘em boys. You’ll win today because they don’t know what’s in here, in your heart. Do this for your team, your school, do it for the whole town.”
I watched one of those sports movies where the underdogs make their big comeback. The plot is usually the same. At halftime the coach delivers a pivotal speech in the locker room before the players storm the field. However, the pep talks always sound hollow to my ears. No matter how impassioned the coach is, his message is weak. I mean come on, ‘Today is the day to spill your blood for this sport and this game?’ That’s pretty thin compared to the truly inspiring message in the gospel.
In my business days I traveled annually to Washington DC to lobby for our industry. I dreaded it when I was called on to speak to Congressmen and their aides. My voice trembled and I could barely get the facts out.
Now I eagerly stand on a festival stage before thousands of skeptical foreigners and confidently tell them about my Lord. What makes the difference is the message. There is soul-rending, heart exploding power in the message of the gospel, and the delivery can come from any fumbler such as me.
When people are enabled by the Holy Spirit to grasp the truth of the salvation offer, they beg to be told what to do. That’s what happened on the day of Pentecost, and it still happens when the gospel is explained.
To tell someone God loves you and sent his Son to die for you is by far the best possible news to deliver. It’s the message of ultimate love demonstrated through action. No other faith, empowerment seminar, or locker room rally is even in the same league.
Prayer: Holy Lord, allow my voice to spread your golden message.
Published: Tuesday, 17 May 2016 10:14
Written by Don Goulding
Even some of the wise will stumble, resulting in their refinement, purification, and cleansing until the time of the end, for it is still for the appointed time. (Daniel 11:35 NET_FL)
Tambudzai, with her beautiful white smile, was from the Shona tribe. She worked as a housemother in the orphanage where we served in Zimbabwe. Dani gave Tambudzai yarn and discovered she could knit like no one we have ever known. She did it without written directions. Regardless of interruptions—fighting children, yammering coworkers, singing songs—Tambudzai never lost track. If she changed one stitch in the row, it was the beginning of a pattern that would crisscross other cables to end at the shoulder.
The details of our lives are part of a pattern God weaves into history. Every event loops another interlocking thread where it belongs. Life may appear random with its many disruptions, but God is sovereign, and he never misses a stitch. Human failings and demonic mutinies become contrast rows to raise up his beautiful purposes. The garment he is working has a predetermined shape and length.
Today, when I encounter difficulty, I need to remember I have a part in eternal history. The difficulty will not be an obscure error without meaning. It will be a refining stitch dropped on cue so my response can be included in the grand design. I pray my reaction will be one of trust and obedience. Today’s test is already on its way, and I set my intentions to bring glory to Jesus.
Prayer: Sovereign, I celebrate your artistry in weaving my life into history.
Published: Wednesday, 11 May 2016 14:24
Written by Don Goulding
So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. (Acts 5:41 NET_FL)
As we ate breakfast in the predawn darkness, the cloud of sleep evaporated from my eight-year-old mind. I would spend the day on Grandpa’s construction site and I was giddy as a moth at a light bulb. I had my own lunch like Grandpa, and I would share his milky-brown sweet coffee from his thermos.
“What are we building today, Grandpa?
I can pound nails all the way in.
Why do your teeth go into a glass at night?”
I chattered a mockingbird’s repertoire inside his pickup truck.
Grandpa nodded his tired head and smirked at my enthusiasm. After all, we were only going to the muddy worksite he labored at six days a week.
How blessed I would be if I could bring some of my childhood excitement to the trials I now endure. God permits affliction so I might glorify Jesus by how I face it. Nothing exposes allegiance like hardship. A gracious Father hands me the opportunity to strike my mark into the tablet of eternity. I can be counted among those who did not crumble under suffering, who found strength in grace, and who would see only hope. My illnesses, disappointments, and temptations are fights as holy as anything the apostles faced.
Why not live enthused about what others dread? Why not do the unthinkable and look trials in the face, then choose joy by the power of the Spirit? Not a stiff-upper-lip-grind-it-out endurance, but a get-up-and-go-to-work-with-grandpa buzz because I’m glorifying Jesus.
Prayer: All-wise King, make me excited about what my trials can accomplish.