Published: Monday, 01 July 2019 17:15
Written by Don Goulding
A perverse person spreads dissension, and a gossip separates the closest friends. (Proverbs 16:28)
I imagine myself in heaven, racing and twirling through the light of God’s presence. I don’t know if it can happen in that place but, if a negative word against someone else comes to my lips, I think I know what I’ll do. I’ll consider the glorious face of Jesus before me, recall how he suffered for the target of my slander, and I’ll shut my mouth. They don’t gossip in heaven.
I’m certain hell is a place full of ruthless, backstabbing liars. That’s where they curse our God, his paradise, and his people. They probably even badmouth each other. Slander against those for whom Jesus died fills their eternity.
Heaven never gossips and hell never ceases that perversion. Here on earth, while waiting for the great separation of good and evil, which kingdom do I join by way of my mouth?
Words are sacred, instilled with the efficacy to create or to destroy. As beings created in God’s image, we are granted authority to use our words to change the world around us. What am I doing with that power, working with God by using encouragements or serving the Devil through slander?
A benevolent millionaire saw me playing in the mud. I shaped it with the rusty knife of dissension. He gently took away the cursed blade and led me to a playroom full of eternal possessions. Now I’m bouncing through his provision, loved and happy. It’s all mine because I’m all his. If I slip back into gossip, it means I’ve somehow forgotten my Benefactor and his incredible gifts and gone back to the mud.
Prayer: Remind me, oh Lord, to save my tongue for praising you.
Published: Monday, 24 June 2019 20:53
Written by Don Goulding
Yet Jesus himself frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
We drove our car onto the public ferry and sailed across the Strait of Juan de Fuca toward Canada. Leaning over the rail, my son and I spotted a half dozen otherworldly creatures. Black and white Dall’s porpoises took turns riding the bow wake. Their torpedo shaped bodies exploited the bulge of glassy current displaced by the ship’s prow. They’d found a magic spot that launched them forward, just ahead of the massive crushing hull. This went beyond survival instincts into the realm of animal fun.
Jesus rode the bow wake. Like the Dall’s porpoises, he knew a sweet spot that reenergized and launched him forward. It was time spent in prayer in the wilderness—that was his bow wake. He stilled his mind, reached out his soul, and surfed with the heart of God. He went there frequently.
Now it’s my turn to navigate this life. Jesus and the porpoises have shown me where to find joy and power. God’s unstoppable sovereignty churns toward his chosen destination. Out in front of that glorious might is a bubble where I may jump in and find safety. Only in this sacred place do I know the exhilaration of Jehovah’s irresistible power and find rest from mans’ tiresome effort. The name of this secret place is prayer. It’s crazy to think that little, insignificant me can plant myself in God’s path so he’ll notice me. How preposterous to believe I can change his direction and ride his might without toil on my part. And yet, there it is, this glassy, surging bubble called prayer.
I’m invited to plunge in headlong and discover the thrill. This wild place is not work, it’s not an onerous burden I must drone out. And it’s not a mere survival tactic reserved for disasters. It’s fun, an awesome privilege and a joyous thrill I find in no other place.
Prayer: Father above, let me ride the bow wake often.
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.