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.
Published: Monday, 17 December 2018 19:03
Written by Don Goulding
Go, my people! Enter your inner rooms! Close your doors behind you! Hide for a little while, until his angry judgment is over! Isaiah 26:20 (NETFull)
I watched a Nigerian weaverbird gather leaf strands from a palm tree. Over, under, over, under, the yellow marvel knit the strips into his nest. At the bottom of the six inch globe was a small entry. A hundred nests dangled like Christmas tree ornaments and kept birdie families snug against the storms and predators outside.
God tells his people to hide in their rooms from his wrath against the world. This is not an injunction to become a recluse from the lost. It’s a warning to keep our hearts protected for our true love.
Earthly life threatens to consume me, both its lures and its pain. Nature’s beauty, agonizing diseases, technology, relationships, politics, wars, births—there is so much to digest.
Jesus says, “Let me be your nest, your place of safety away from the mayhem swirling around you. Withdraw your heart into friendship with me while I deal with everything on the outside.”
I’m invited into a quiet yet passionate interior life with Jesus. By faith, I must let Jesus weave a hushed sanctuary, 360 degrees around me, against anything this life can dish out, good or bad. Each new event is an occasion to curl up next to Jesus, rest in his peace and grow in the fullness of love.
So much of what is said or goes on around me is never meant to come inside the nest. I must trust Jesus to whisper those few things I need in order to serve him and thrive. All the rest is marked to be destroyed by the wrath of God, so leave it outside.
Prayer: Jesus, hide my heart from the uproar of the world.