Published: Monday, 10 April 2017 14:02
Written by Don Goulding
For indeed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen. (Acts 4:27-28)
“Ready or not, here I come,” I said.
Five-year-old Emily hid behind a door watching me through the hinge gap. I pretended to look elsewhere.
“Hum, I wonder where she is. Let’s see, nope, not in the bathtub.”
Emily giggled. I knew her hideouts and how long her attention lasted. At the right time, I jumped behind her door and we burst into a fit of laughing and tickling.
I sometimes feel the powers of evil play hide-and-seek from God’s justice. I was dismayed when I saw gypsies hatefully forced out of a store in Eastern Europe, and distraught when refugees in Africa lost a baby to starvation. And if my own rights are trampled, I suffer truly massive indignation.
The reality I miss is God’s sovereignty in every situation. It is not like the Devil catches him unaware every now and then. It was God’s sovereignty at work when Jesus was decimated on the cross. God saw through the ploys of those who thought they were winning against his Christ.
God is infinitely more sovereign over life than I was over hide-and-seek with Emily. She thought she was invisible, even though I saw her peek out and heard her titter. I chose to draw the game out for a more explosive reunion.
Father God does the same for me. Evil can’t hide from him, not my evil or the world’s. He’s waiting for the perfect time in history, then in an explosive moment, he’ll jump out from behind life and swoop me into his arms. He’ll finally remove all sin from my heart, and welcome me home. Then maybe we’ll even tickle each other.
Prayer: Holy Father, help me rest in your sovereignty.
Published: Monday, 03 April 2017 18:26
Written by Don Goulding
Then Jesus said to him, “ʻIf you are able?ʼ All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)
I performed a gospel slight-of-hand trick before wide-eyed children at an evangelistic day-club in Slovakia. An eight-year-old volunteer assisted as we sliced a one meter length of rope in half.
“Satan uses sin to cut our innocence in two,” I said. “But Jesus can make us whole again.” We tied the ends back together.
I wound the repaired rope around my hand and reached in a pocket for some invisible Holy Spirit dust.
“When we wrap our life around him, he makes our sin disappear.” The cord was unwrapped with a flourish and, voila, it was in one piece without a knot in sight.
Oohs and aahs rippled through the young audience.
I wanted the Slovakians to know I wasn't using magic so I revealed the secret. The loop that was sliced and re-tied was actually at one end of the cord. I hid that fake end in my pocket as I pretended to retrieve dust. No wizardry, just a knowledge of how to fold, cut, and stash the knotted end. The kids were no longer amazed.
Jesus promised that if we ask and have faith miracles will be done for us. I read these statements and shake my head. The supernatural seems impossible. But maybe it’s time to reveal the mystery shrouding answered prayer.
I’ve known prayer warriors who regularly ask for, and receive, God’s intervention. They’ve learned the secret that faith to access God’s power must accompany an understanding of his heart. They don’t believe in miracles so much as they believe in the Father.
That’s what I want from my prayers—to be so entwined with the heart of God that, like Jesus, I see what Father is doing and I’m used of him to call it into the natural.
Prayer: Father, help my unbelief—help me ask for what you want.
Published: Wednesday, 29 March 2017 20:48
Written by Don Goulding
If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:30)
I forced the blade of a utility knife through a plastic bucket, slipped, and stabbed my own leg. A friend used duct-tape to wrap the wound until we could finish the project.
Later, a nurse prepped for stitches but she left me to remove the tape from my hairy leg. After twenty minutes, she found me tugging in feeble increments. She grabbed the silver tape and ripped it free in one motion. Her method really didn’t hurt. I had prolonged the agony by my lack of resolve.
I’m a spiritual Band-Aid baby, too. I attempt to put my old nature to death slowly when Jesus wants to shorten the pain with a ripping campaign.
Sin cuts. It doesn't matter if I stab myself or if someone else injures me, either way, wrong choices cause wounds. The Spirit of Christ offers to enter the laceration for healing. But I clutch over my hurt and apply Band-Aids—those easy fixes that never address root problems.
Over time, my temporary bandages become a permanent part of my corrupt nature. I fear that if I remove them, I’ll lessen who I am. But I was never meant to assimilate crusty distractions to wholeness.
True healing can’t happen until I’m honest about the depth of my injury. Habits will smell and anger will fester until I force my hands down, expose my heart, and let Jesus in for surgery. He has to use the light of prayerful meditation to perform a miracle of reconstruction.
But first, my Band-Aids have to go. So grab hold of vague acknowledgements and rip.
Prayer: Go ahead, Savior, tear away excuses and heal me deeply.