Don Goulding - Blog

Sitting on the Sin-Brat

 

Sin BratFor I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law ofmy mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. (Romans 7:22-23 NET_FL)

Spiritual growth only comes to me with bloody violence. My old Mr. Sin Nature is a wily beast. One of his tricks is showy enthusiasm for biblical head knowledge. He encourages me to memorize scripture, but his slimy goal is preoccupation from living out the truth.


Another Mr. Sin Nature tactic is to read the Bible too quickly. He won’t hold still under the stinging poultice of a few chosen words, and instead, prefers entertainment by the storyline. These and other ploys force me to sit on the urchin.

I begin in a place where I can be alone with Jesus. I ask what heart-work needs the most attention, then read no more than a chapter of Scripture. How I choose where to read matters little as God maneuvers any method to get me where he wants. I find he consistently points me to what I need. Next, I let the Spirit highlight the handful of words on which I’m to focus. Then I wrestle with my squirming old nature, and pin him under those words until he squeals, “I give.” Repentant prayer and brief journaling knock the final wind out of the monster.

I have to repeat this process each morning, because, after years of letting the sin nature run wild, he thinks he can poke his nose into every good thought. Only when I’m methodical and strong-handed is he containable. For now, I have to cohabit with the rascal, but I have another guest who forces him to sit in the corner. I need Jesus in my house at every hour. Not only does he pardon my keeping the sin-brat, he also helps me baby-sit the little wretch.

Prayer: Lion of Judah, this is war. Help me overcome myself.

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Beautiful Gospel

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.

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Part of the Plan

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.

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