Published: Monday, 17 June 2019 17:32
Written by Don Goulding
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5) (NIV)
For the first time in the history of their midsized city, Chinese Christians from the underground church gathered by the hundreds to fast and worship through the night. Cell groups that had never met took turns leading the prayers. For the first hour, a group led us to pray for the ten million inhabitants of the city. Another house church took over the second hour and we prayed for the province. As the night progressed, cells led intercession for the country of China and finally over all the nations of the world.
In spite of our secret location, the risk of arrest was high with so many people converging at one time. Consequently there were no lukewarm Christians present, only those who valued this historic unified worship more than freedom.
God honored the devotion of his Asian children and his Spirit filled the large room. Some laid face down, some wept, nearly everybody raised their arms to heaven. As the only Westerner, I couldn’t understand the urgent prayers but the words didn’t matter. Nothing mattered accept Jesus. I was undone. We were all undone.
My wife knits. One time she used the angora yarn from one of her completed projects for something different. Row by row, she pulled the fuzzy yellow threads out of a sweater that had taken dozens of hours to make. In the underground gathering, I felt like that sweater. The presence of Jesus pulled my life apart, row by row. My past fell open, my accomplishments unraveled, my place in society lost relevance.
Confirmation bias is the thought process wherein we only accept affirmations of our previous beliefs and refuse to hear facts that might dispute our conclusions. It leads us to build our lives on suppositions rather than on the truth of God.
The cure for confirmation bias is a thorough undoing by the majesty of Jesus. More than a one-off encounter, I must learn to live undone, now, before it happens at the judgment seat. What I’ve accomplished, my culture, the popularity I seek—I need these to unravel so the Lord can make me into something new.
Prayer: King of Kings, help me to live undone before you.
Published: Monday, 10 June 2019 16:09
Written by Don Goulding
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Jesus left the glory of heaven for the purpose that I might enter it. He went homeless on earth to give me a mansion in paradise. Refused hospitality in many towns, he ensured my permanent welcome into the New Jerusalem. And by relinquishing his rights of sonship he legalized my adoption forever.
Nails in Jesus’s hands and feet, thorns in his head, gasping for air as his lungs collapsed, he voluntarily endured crucifixion so I will never know those agonies in hell, which was my due for treacheries against God. He silently accepted the abuse meant for me—tied to a post, whipped with shards, spit upon and jeered. He was stripped naked and his head was beaten with a rod, and that is exactly how the demons would have treated me for eternity had Jesus not taken my place.
The humbling shame of Jesus when spread eagle before the public replaced the embarrassment I would have suffered when every secret is exposed on judgment day. After a lifetime of insolence and apathy my sins filled many pages in the books of heaven. Before the angels and humans from all history, the list was to be read aloud and the images replayed. But when the books are opened, my every sin will be lined out with the red blood of Jesus. My public shame is shifted to the Lamb of God while his virtue flys to me.
Jesus lived a sinless life, and when he was done, he laid the robe of his righteousness around my shoulders. He took up my ugly guilt and, though his nostrils burned at the stench, he pulled it over his head. He wore my filth, I wear his purity.
Prayer: My blessed Lord Jesus, thank you for trading places.
Published: Monday, 03 June 2019 18:42
Written by Don Goulding
Your words are sweeter in my mouth than honey! (Psalms 119:103)
A cooking fire smoked up the inside of the dirt floored restaurant in Nigeria.
“What’s that?” I pointed at the morsels remaining in the serving bowl.
The Africans consulted one another about how to convey the answer in English. “The goat’s … testicles.”
As a missionary, I’ve been served all kinds of delicacies—caterpillars, chicken feet, fish eyes. Some of it went discreetly to a neighbor and some went into my mouth.
I recall a long day in Fiji when we finally got to eat raw sea urchins in lime juice and coconut milk. It was marvelous, like the strong food of royalty. Proof that when I get hungry enough, anything tastes good.
My hunger for God’s word operates the same way. When ease fills my life, prayer and Scripture often confuse and bore me. When my life is in the grip of trials, I fall to my knees and plant my face into every word from God. These appetite extremes only level out if I admit that the ongoing pettiness in my heart means I need to ingest grace every day.
Jesus said he is the bread of life because we need bread anew each day. Yesterday’s portion no longer fills me. I’m famished for new grace, fresh words from him, today.
Ahh, the sweet word of God. When sin’s guilt gnaws in my gut, nothing is more delicious than spooning one of David’s psalms about forgiveness into my mouth. Or when I’ve felt a void of direction and God pushes just the right message from the letters of Paul or the red inked words of Jesus past my lips, nothing else satiates. Whatever hunger attacks, Father holds out the comb dripping with the amber honey of his truth spoken to me.
Prayer: Sustaining Jesus, may I taste your words today.