Don Goulding - Blog

Over the Threshold

brain mind thoughts 735 350When they placed their threshold by my threshold and their doorpost by my doorpost, with only the wall between me and them, they profaned my holy name by the abominable deeds they committed. (Ezekiel 43:8 NET_FL)

Dani and I once lived next-door to furloughed missionaries from Mozambique with a connecting doorway between our apartments. Residing adjacent to them made us self-conscious of playing loud music, of the clutter we left out, and of our conversations near the door.

The Bible says we are the new temple of God. That means his Most Holy Place is inside me, just over the threshold from the Holy Place of my mind. It makes me think twice about the garbage I permit into my thoughts.

In the days of the physical temple, the Holy Place was where incense was continually offered by consecrated priests. Today, it’s the place in my mind from which prayers float upward offered by a purified conscience. This is meant to be a quiet, reverent space in my being. I fear it is otherwise.

Oh, what sacrilege and idolatry I permit in my thoughts, right next to God’s abode. Instead of a sanctuary, my mind is a brothel with every kind of impurity running in and out. I may not act on the demonic banter in my head but I often entertain temptation before giving it an eviction notice. By then it has grown into a muscular adolescent that ignores my refutations and must be forced out by the Deliverer.

For the sake of my incredible neighbor, I really want to clean up my Holy Place. It’s time to refuse visitors of fantasy, envy, or worry. I must point to the narrow threshold that separates my mind from the home of the Most High God and send those thoughts scurrying.

Prayer: Holy Father, forgive my trash and help me clean up.

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Faith vs. Works

image002For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:26 NET_FL)

The few Christians surviving in Pakistan are salt-of-the-earth people. Beige and brown clothes, mud colored houses, food cooked over a dried cow dung fire—it was the simplest and most beautiful life I’d encountered. These humble children of God gave me a sublime lesson about a complex doctrine.

A brother sat in a chair in front of everyone posing as one of the many donkey-cart drivers of the village. Another brother played the part of the donkey but he pushed the cart with his head. Rolling laughter told us the Pakistanis immediately saw the problem and understood the analogy to a Biblical truth.

The Apostle Paul speaks definitively on faith when he says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Likewise, James is accurate in claiming faith without works is dead. Paul is speaking of the donkey, James talks about the cart. Both parts working together carry me to salvation and they must come in the correct order. Good deeds cannot push faith, faith must pull good deeds.

Out of his own resources God paid the full price on the cross for grace and now he only requires that we not treat his astronomical gift cheaply. Only a donkey of faith pulling a cart of works demonstrates our grasp of how much God spent. Good works by themselves accomplish nothing because our charitable deeds will never remove the sin that holds us apart from God. Likewise, an unburdened donkey of belief frolicking about is so insincere as to be pointless. I need a donkey pulling a cart—faith in the blood of Jesus that is reflected in my works.

Prayer: God my Savior, may my life demonstrate my faith in your provision.

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Tragic Love

84690 004 D096CCF6And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:15 NET_FL)

For centuries the love of Romeo and Juliet has been celebrated because tragic love is the most profound.

The families of the lovestruck couple were feuding so they married secretly. Then Juliet’s father engaged her to a self-absorbed count. In response, she swallowed a drug to simulate death. Her plan was to be entombed and later rise to escape with Romeo but he found her comatose and assumed she was dead and so poisoned himself. When Juliet awoke and discovered the truth, she stabbed herself to join Romeo in death.

The story of John meets Jane in high school, they marry, have 2.5 healthy children, and live happily ever after doesn’t engage our hearts because it’s unchallenged love. Jesus’ love for me is not John and Jane love but Romeo and Juliet love. It’s tragic love.

Jesus said, “I will die so we can be together.” He knowingly left perfection to enter a hateful world that murdered him. The intensity of his love compelled him into this most epic tragedy in history.

Like Juliet, it’s now my turn to die for Jesus, but this plot has a twist. Though Christ died, he arose again and his Spirit returned to live in me, his lover. As I die to self, the life of my true love lives on in my body. In a hundred ways every day, I reciprocate the death of him who is my passion. It’s the love saga of ultimate sacrifice and union. Our mutually tragic love will be celebrated throughout eternity.

Prayer: Yes, Great Love, we willingly die for each other.

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