Don Goulding - Blog

Fireproof

53010 3d space scene burning earth…the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someoneʼs work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NET_FL)

Flames leapt ten meters carrying grass, trees, and bush animals into gray billows. The wildfire raced toward the mission complex in Zimbabwe and every able-bodied man beat at the flames with a leafy branch. I’d never battled fire with a branch but I couldn’t stand-by and watch, so I carried my bough into a burning field. 

“Stop, brother,” an African grabbed my arm.

The hungry blaze jumped and the trail I almost used was engulfed in a roar of orange flames. My ignorance was nearly my undoing.

Will my spiritual ignorance be my undoing when I get to paradise? I will be saved by the grace of Jesus but will my personality lie in charred ruins because it wasn’t remade beforehand? After walking with the Lord for years, I still harbor jealousy, fear, and apathy. I don’t want to show up at the marriage feast of the Lamb as a gray-haired spiritual baby with no eternal gifts to present.

The prescription for fireproof maturity is simple. That which I construct with humble, godly love will be unharmed by the flames. Whatever I build with self-interest will incinerate.

We are under attack by a practiced enemy who blocks our attempts to build honorably. But that’s why life is a test. It’s all a grand plan to see if, in spite of the obstacles, our character will be fireproof.

Prayer: Create in me, O God, a heart that will survive the fire.

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Protected

OshodiThe Lord is your protector; the Lord is the shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day, or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life. The Lord will protect you in all you do, now and forevermore. Psalms 121:5-8 (NETFull)

“What you doin’ here, white man.” A thug barked at me as I picked my way through the Oshodi Marketplace in Nigeria. “You don’t belong.”

John, a Nigerian believer, pushed his small body between us and yelled back. We were caught in a sea of swarming Africans in the most densely populated location on the continent. There were shouts of owiibo (white-man), most were friendly, a few were not. A knot of hoodlums led by the mouthy thug bullied me to buy goods at exorbitant prices so they could snatch part of the proceeds. It was time to get out of Oshodi.

Unseen to all, floating above my head was the promise that God protects those who entrust their hearts to him. Three months earlier, I had embraced that promise. I would simplify my life, go to the mission field, and trust him to provide everything necessary. 

In Oshodi, and in other tight spots, God kept his promise to the letter. I recall the bus that showed up at the right time to snatch us from a criminal infested jungle in Côte d’Ivoire. I know how God sent an angelic helper to guide me out of the bush in Zimbabwe. I realize he made my ministry partner and me invisible as we walked past Chinese police during a raid of the secret church.

It has to be said that God’s promise of protection is for the spirit of those who love him—not necessarily their body. Nevertheless, in every case so far, he protected my earthly life as well.

While my friend of small stature, and large courage, argued with the Oshodi ruffians, I prayed. John negotiated our way into a more reasonable price, or ransom if you please, and I quickly passed the naira bills to the vendor. While our swindling brokers celebrated, John and I slipped away because the LORD protects us in all we do, both now and forevermore.

Prayer: Lord, let me be consumed with trusting you for everything.

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Unchangeable

wave hits lighthouseAll generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. James 1:17 (NETFull)

The weather is changing. Trees that were clothed with leaves a week ago are running about naked and giggling in the wind. Days are shorter, geese are migrating, snows are coming.

The seasonal upsets are the least disruptive of life’s many transitions. Morals, technology, and governments are in constant flux. Thousand-year-old castles crumble while pert strip malls pop from their shrink-wrap. From the expanding universe to nuclear decay, our existence is so much material fickleness in dire need of spiritual solidity.

In Scripture I encounter a refreshing consistency. God says the same things repeatedly from different angles. Lean not on your own ways is the same truth as he is the vine and I am the branch. The death angel passing over marked doorways is echoed when I escape eternal death through the blood of Jesus. My world may not be the same place it was a moment ago but when God speaks a truth, it hangs irrevocable in time.

The endurance of God’s word trumps every temporal instability. It is my one true hope. So let my opinions zigzag, let the world degenerate, even if the universe melts away—I have the unchanging promise from the Father of lights. He is the one eternal anchor that cannot bend, sway, or even vibrate.

Prayer: My Rock and my Redeemer, through all the changes, to you alone do I cling.

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