Published: Monday, 30 April 2018 17:18
Written by Don Goulding
Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. Luke 18:9 (NETFull)
Roy’s old truck squeaked and rattled on a dusty Mexican road. My heart was as dry as the tumbleweeds that blew past. I’d contrived to be alone with this thin, gentle man so I could take the second step in confession. Confessing to God had gained forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Now I needed to confess to a trusted brother for healing from my sin’s wound (James 5:16).
Roy was perhaps the godliest man I knew, yet he was humble toward his own shortcomings. My admission was barely out of my mouth when he steered around a pothole and launched into prayer.
“In the name of Jesus, I proclaim Don free from the power this secret had over his life. His sin is removed as far as the east is from the west. Amen. Now, son, don’t speak again of what’s forgotten.”
All Christians find forgiveness, some advance toward holiness, very few discover Roy’s combination of purity and patience. That’s where Jesus wants my heart to go next, demanding personal holiness from myself while maintaining resolute patience with his work in others. Both sides of that equation are nearly impossible to attain, yet the power of grace is available for the transformation. Through Jesus, my heart can be made into a habitat that slams the back door on sin and holds the front door open to others.
Rattling down the bumpy road of life, I must focus on the five-mile gap between my holiness and that of Jesus and not on the one-inch of improvement I think I’ve gained ahead of someone else. The integrity to admit how far I fall short of God’s mark is essential to improving my righteousness, accepting others, and to getting along toward Roy’s Christ-likeness.
Prayer: Strong Jesus, work grace in me to hate my sin and be patient with others.
Published: Monday, 23 April 2018 17:29
Written by Don Goulding
… you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3 NET_FL)
The tablet of my heart seems like an impossible medium for Christ’s grand communication. How can he write anything in this infinitesimal space? My heart is a mere speck, a bit of grime stirred from the dust of the world and not fit to herald the King’s message.
Mote that I am, I hover in the radiance of Christ’s glory. It’s a testament to his grace that the Lord seeks out flecks like me. He converts a dust floater into a museum-quality object of beauty. Onlookers gasp in awe. The wonder is not in the speck but in the light that strikes it. Laud the white-hot pure light, seen where it ignites the lint.
That a grand-sized heart reflects the wonder of Jesus is a given but that I can—tiny me with my warts and hang-ups—is a miracle. After years of chasing purity, I realize the ugliness of sin is still in me and all the beauty of Jesus is there too. The coexistence of these polar extremes shouts a declaration.
The message God squeezes onto my minuscule heart tablet is this, “No one can possess the love you see here unless they have supernatural aid. It’s my Son, Jesus, who beams love onto this heart you are reading and we long to do the same for you.”
Prayer: Spirit of the living God, may everyone I meet today see you on my heart.
Published: Monday, 16 April 2018 22:37
Written by Don Goulding
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. Matt. 11:12 (NIV)
Seven thousand Hindus sat before the stage in Ranipet, India to hear the Americans. An Indian pastor grabbed my head and rattled my brain as he prayed in Tamil for anointed preaching. The interpreter and I got into a groove until I proclaimed something inflammatory.
“None of the Hindu gods have died for your sins.”
He went silent and shook his head. That statement may have incited a riot that would have prevented the gospel from going out to the two hundred souls that later responded to the invitation.
The gospel is like dynamite. It must be strategically placed to do the most good. Deployed at the right time and place, it blows apart unholy attachments. Jesus put it this way, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”
My faith is inspired by those who suffer the temporal devastation of gospel dynamite, and still, they light fuses. The family of an acquaintance in Nigeria was abducted for being Christians, and he preaches the good news. I was adopted by a Pakistani village that was burned down, and they proclaim Christ to their hostile countrymen. On a subsequent night at the Ranipet festival, my interpreter was struck by a rock. He rubbed the cut on his forehead and pressed on speaking to one thousand children gathered around us. Persecution only strengthens these immovable disciples.
Following Christ is not a sappy, weak-willed affair. The gospel is dangerous. Its power shatters earthy relationships. Only fearless people lay hold of it and blast their hearts free to worship Jesus alone.
Prayer: Lion of Judah, explode whatever weakens my faith.