- Written by: Don Goulding
For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
After preaching in Ivory Coast, I was invited to the pastor’s house for the Sunday meal. He led me into a Liberian refugee settlement. We ducked through the doorway into his shack made from scraps of wood and tin. The impoverished people of the earth are often the most generous.
The pastor’s wife served the West African staple of garri. It’s made of cassava roots that are ground, dried, and later boiled into a mush thick as Play-Doh. Garri is tasteless and hard to swallow unless there’s something to dip it into.
My hosts also served a stew of greens with morsels of meat. We pinched off each bite of garri, dipped it in the delicious sauce, and gulp, down it went.
The kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace, and joy, but these staples must be dipped in an anointing of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness is never satisfied with my performance, it sticks in my throat and won’t go down. The peace and joy I generate are so tasteless they never touch me inside. Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is impossible.
The reason Jesus cleansed us by his sacrifice was to fill us with the Holy Spirit. We get tangled up over the signs and gifts of the Spirit, but the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—can’t be counterfeited. They are living proof that Spirit filling isn’t an optional Christian add-on, it is Christianity.
When I dip righteousness under the Spirit’s leading, doing good tastes marvelous. I crave helping others and practicing honesty. I grow insatiable for truth and self-sacrifice. Without warning, peace and joy fill my mouth.
The kingdom of God is not about food and drink, but it is about staples that taste delicious with the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Spirit of God, flood my heart with your righteousness, peace, and joy.
- Written by: Don Goulding
… his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3)
Dani and I had to leave Zimbabwe for at least forty-eight hours to obtain new visas. We planned on driving north, two hundred and fifty kilometers, and staying in neighboring Zambia. The Zimbabwean government wouldn’t let their currency out of the country, so we drove to a lonely road near the border and, at the Lord’s prompting, buried the Zims we’d need on return.
After driving through the no-mans-land separating the countries, the Zambian guards examined our American passports with eager whispers. They demanded high fees in US cash, that we refused to pay.
Wondering if God was still with us, we drove back to the mango tree that marked the Zimbabwean border. A guard took pity on us and exchanged our Zambian money for Zims, so we could pay to reenter Zimbabwe. We’d only been gone an hour but, contrary to normal policy, he stamped our passports for the new visas we needed.
We dug up our money, bought dried fish for the mission station, then prayed for fuel. All the petrol stations were dry. After a half dozen inquiries, we were directed to the back of a hotel that still had some fuel in barrels. We filled up, but now our Zims were nearly spent.
God warned against staying at the hotel, so we drove to an intersection and prayed again. We felt the Spirit say, “Go left,” and followed a barely discernible gravel road. We arrived at some beautiful chalets on the Zambezi River, but without food.
A butcher weighed his smallest chicken, sliced off one leg, then the other, then a wing until it was affordable with our remaining Zims. The Africans in the local shop laughed with me at the impoverished white man.
Sunset turned the sky burnt-orange as fireflies zipped across the midnight-blue river. And our three-quarters chicken was a gourmet meal. Life doesn't get any richer.
Navigating with Jesus is a fun adventure, because he provides everything necessary for life and godliness.
Prayer: Lord, I’ll seek your provision to do your will.
- Written by: Don Goulding
Yesterday, our pastor challenged us to consider what we would say to our younger self. Here is what I'd tell that knucklehead-
So teach us to consider our mortality,
so that we might live wisely. (Psalms 90:12)
If you will listen these words, your life will go better than mine did.
Going to Bible college and entering ministry are the third and fourth best decisions you will make. Embrace those choices.
Your second best decision is the wife you will marry. Cherish her everyday.
Numero uno of all your choices is your vow to follow Christ.
To live well, don’t stop at accepting the forgiveness of Jesus. Put all of who you are into becoming like him.
Don’t run after the pleasures of the world. Trying to get fulfillment from the temporal is like gasping oil. It slips through your fingers and you’ll never hold joy.
The average person is given 2.5 billion seconds to live. Use them wisely. Don’t repeat my mistakes.
The sooner you lean there is nothing in the world that satisfies, the sooner you will cling to only Jesus. He is your past, your present, and the sum of your future.
I know your mule headed thoughts. You think I must be wrong. You want a way to gain the benefits of the world and eternity with Jesus. But, Younger Self, I have the advantage of experience and hard won wisdom. You must choose Jesus or the world. Then go and live every second intentionally.
Prayer: Lord, let me use my short life wisely.