- Written by: Don Goulding
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For there is more to life than food, and more to the body than clothing. (Luke 12:22, 23)
During our early years of marriage, Dani and I lived in rental houses. Later we owned our homes. While owning generally has long-term financial benefits, it also comes with concerns for mortgages, maintenance, and taxes. As a renter, I wasn’t anxious about how the neighbor’s abandoned cars lowered my equity, or about fixing the roof. All that was the landlord’s problem.
Living for God makes him the landlord and me the renter. I’m unqualified to handle the worries of owning life. I need a simpler code of existence. I can trade a thousand concerns for one rent payment of pleasing Jesus. Instead of juggling anxieties for friends, health, and job security, listening to the Spirit of Jesus becomes my one uncomplicated payment. Everything else is his responsibility.
Renters travel light. This life is only a brief encampment, and we don’t invest in additions that will be left behind when we move. Instead, we focus on improvements, like integrity and charity, that can be packed up and taken with us.
Renters also know the equity accrues to the Lord. The assets and resources aren’t ours. Anything achieved in his service belongs to him. It all came from him, and it returns to him.
Ownership is too exhausting. I have to fret about the dilapidation in my life, and struggle to pay for each mistake. I’d rather admit bankruptcy, then move into his real estate, free of sanctimonious works. His righteousness is a first-rate accommodation, and staying in his joy is like living on permanent vacation.
The time I save by not owning life is much better spent praising my Landlord.
Prayer: Jehovah Jireh (God Provides), take ownership of all I am.
- Written by: Don Goulding
Do not love the world or the things in the world … the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
Baby Jordan was nine months old from conception, and she was still in the womb. She already recognized her mother’s singing and stroking her through the belly. Sucking her thumb while listening to “mamma’s gonna buy you a mockingbird” was a favorite pastime. Her love for that song would follow her after her birth into the world.
When the water left and Jordan felt cold air spreading over the crown of her head, she clung to the comforts of her known existence. She had to be compelled to enter what others mistakenly call the beginning of life.
I’ve grown to love my world. I’m keenly attached to activities, people, and memories. I know what I like, and I like what I know. I resist the change that death brings. Like Jordan, I’ll have to be compelled to move beyond what I call life.
The difference between pre- and postnatal life is enormous—so much light, color, and reality now, compared to what was in the womb. A much larger expansion will overtake me in heaven.
My ultimate birthday is coming. A failing body and slipping mind mark the onset of labor. When my heart stops, I’ll enter the birth canal, and then life.
Jordan had nothing to fear by entering this world, and I have nothing to fear by leaving it. As she carried her developing traits beyond the womb, so I shall bring everything accomplished in Christ to paradise for larger purposes. There’s much more ahead, more to experience, more to understand, and more work to complete for Christ.
It’s time to prepare for ultimate birth, time to embrace what’s beyond this dark cramped place.
Prayer: Lord, set the desires of my heart on you and your home.
- Written by: Don Goulding
… others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ … (2 Corinthians 9:13) (NIV)
I love to cook. There’s joy in blending ingredients to achieve dishes that surprise the palate without being weird. I’m in my happy place when I chop, sauté, season, and garnish.
Notice I didn’t say wash. I hate dirty dishes. Soggy hands, greasy pots—yech. But food and dishes go together. You can’t enjoy one without the other.
Jesus feeds us delicacies of grace. God loves me, the Spirit guides me, all my sin is forgiven—yum. And my hunger spikes at the mere thought of paradise. But I can’t devour the words of grace, and then, refuse the dishes of obedience.
Paul warned Timothy about a time when people would gather preachers that teach what their itching ears want to hear. Today, we have to be careful that in our zeal to win new converts we aren’t guilty of scratching ears. We rightfully preach that faith in Christ alone saves, but we often hide the fact that not all faith is saving faith. The demons, for example, have faith, but not saving faith.
If I ever repeated a sinner’s prayer, or responded to an invitation, I’ve made a good start. But the only Biblical indicator of right faith is obedience. It’s called by other names—repentance, holiness, righteousness—but it’s all obedience, obedience to God’s ways of life as prescribed in the New Testament Bible.
God knows how short I fall in my daily obedience to him. But I stay on a trajectory of improvement because I don’t want to be among the masses on judgment day who say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t I accept you as Savior?” only to hear him reply, “I never knew you, and you proved that by disobedience.”
Faith alone in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus saves, and a growing obedience demonstrates the right kind of faith. The dishes really do come with the meal.
Prayer: Jesus, I accept both the forgiveness and the obedience of grace.