Published: Monday, 29 October 2018 17:43
Written by Don Goulding
But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28 (NETFull)
A scarlet ribbon stretched across the doorway of a church thatched with palm leaves in southern India. I was invited to open the new mud wall building by cutting the ribbon. The thirty some Christians living in this hostile village needed encouragement. The previous month, militant Hindus burned their church to the ground. What could I dare preach to these persecuted souls?
“Satan had his way in your village for countless generations. Now Jesus is moving in and you are caught in the middle of a spiritual war. You must choose a side but the weapons you fight with are not the weapons of the world. You must combat your enemies with love, forgiveness, and prayer. Stick to these three disciplines and you will have victory in this test.”
I knew it was the right message. I also knew it was easier said than done. There were smiling friends and a Neighborhood Watch program waiting in my hometown. These desperate believers had to continue living next to enemies who would stop at nothing to see them eliminated.
Even though people don’t regularly attack me, I do have those inside my sphere who are difficult to love. If you are human and you interact with another person, disagreement is inevitable. The grace I bring to an abrasive relationship is the measure of my Christlikeness. And I can’t let the subtlety of my love-test lull me into thinking my response is meaningless in eternity. It matters.
I’m pretty certain my friends in the burned out village church will stand the test and love their way into the hearts of many in their community. But will I do the same in my world?
Prayer:Jesus, help me deeply love everybody you bring to me.
Published: Monday, 22 October 2018 15:25
Written by Don Goulding
For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die! Eccl. 2:16
My great grandfather came west in a covered wagon and lived the adventure of developing a raw land. When I was a boy, great granddad’s homestead in the California desert was sold and subdivided. The new owners knocked down the barn and put up apartments. Great granddad is gone—a whole life is as though it never was. I don’t even know his first name.
There are currently more than seven billion people on earth, and at least another fifty billion have come and gone. That’s fifty-seven billion sets of life experience all forgotten or marginally remembered. As soon as the present becomes the past, my efforts and dreams get piled on the heap of decomposing ancestors. I don’t despair, however, because I possess an indestructible treasure that will outlive even the end of time.
I own the hope diamond. Not the one in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. but the real hope diamond. The one in the museum should be called the Hopeless Diamond. Discovered in India, it was fashioned into the eye of a Hindu idol and, when it was later stolen, a curse supposedly brought grief to everyone who owned it, including the beheaded Marie Antoinette. That hope diamond has a bitter past and a bleak future in the final blaze.
The hope diamond I own is the bright, translucent love of Christ. It sits atop the dark pile of human endeavors and shines indigo rays of beauty. My hope is my one legitimate reason for joy. It is because of my hope, and not some evaporative legacy, that I will live my brief span with abounding optimism. And because of my hope, even my name lives forever in heaven.
Prayer: Resplendent Lord Jesus, your love is my bright reason for living.
Published: Monday, 15 October 2018 02:21
Written by Don Goulding
Are God's consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? Job 15:11 (NIV)
A coffee-skinned, forty-something woman came trembling after my sermon in Pakistan.
“I had a daughter fourteen years ago, but never any boy. I am useless.” She wept from under her pink shawl.
Pakistani culture dictated she produce a male heir for her family. The poor soul had convinced herself that some great curse was on her. Her body convulsed as she pressed her palms together and begged for prayer to conceive a boy.
The Holy Spirit broke in on the moment and I found myself in a difficult position. This dear sister needed to let go of her obsession for a boy and be fulfilled by Jesus. I squirmed, then passed a note with Job 15:11 written in Urdu. It was a hard message, but the condition of that precious woman’s heart was more important than the fruit of her womb.
I am often sharp as a knife when ministering God’s truth to others and dull as a stone when it comes to applying it to my own faults. After we helped the Pakistani, Jesus worked on my heart.
“Is my love enough to make you let go of lesser blessings? Am I enough?”
I held secret dissatisfaction with certain cards life had dealt me. By my attitude, I had said to the lover of my soul that I wanted, that I deserved, more than him. I wanted Jesus plus an easy life, and please add a little popularity with some fun mixed in, thank you. The consolations of Christ had not been enough for me and his question exposed my insincerity.
I sorely needed to listen to my own preaching because the condition of my heart is more important than the fruit of the world.
Prayer: Lord, I have been a fool with your love. It is enough.