Don Goulding - Blog

Partners By Prayer

 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Colossians 4:3, 4) (NIV)

The throbbing music that opened the service set a sharp contrast to the dead zone we now entered. Zimbabweans sat under the thatched ceiling, while the last sentence of my sermon fell dead on the church floor. I fumbled for my chair, and no one knew what to do. Finally, a farm worker offered closing words in Shona. 

Lord, I’m sorry, it was a bad message, I prayed. But I lifted my head to see people slipping into a line spanning the front of the sanctuary.

“Brother, these people would like to accept Christ,” the farmer whispered.

I stared in unbelief, then realized that friends at home had been praying.

Regardless of the ineptitude of the messenger, when people pray, ministry happens. Every time I ask churches, prayer teams, and Internet contacts to plead for God’s help, wild, holy fun swirls through the heavenly realms.

To labor without prayer cover is to stand naked before the laughter of demonic hordes. But when dear servants of Jesus pray, I find I’m moving inside a bubble of spiritual potency. Unforeseen challenges still carry the bubble hither and yon, but, wherever it ends up, good things come about. Travel works out, divine appointments happen, boldness infuses my speech, hearts open, and the kingdom expands. Inside the bubble is heaven’s electricity.

Prayers like, “Lord, bless our pastor and all the missionaries,” are not much help. We need intercessors to step into the authority of Jesus and battle against the darkness in and around us.

The quiet warrior who lays prostrate in a hidden room, interceding for those who minister, causes a clash in the heavenly realms. The soldier battles until he knows the victory has gone to our King.

Some go and preach, some stay and pray, and the combination is as beautiful as it is unstoppable.

Prayer: Oh Lord, what an honor to partner in your field with prayer warriors.

De-Onion

And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

I’m an onion. 

The pungent sharpness of my personality stings the eyes of those around me. The other day I used words to slap down my son’s friendly conversation. When I later apologized, he didn’t recall the event. That only demonstrates the numbness he had to adopt to cope with my reek.

When God created man He said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” That likeness was nothing less than magnificent. Then sin corrupted our human splendor. The disease of rebellion infects every one of us.

Because the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sin, I’m a saved onion. Every layer of my personality stands before God, redeemed. But the only thing more rancid than a human onion is one who accepts the gift of salvation, then continues to sit in his own foul odor. So Jesus offers to deonion me. It’s a painful process, but it’s the only way to replace my stench with his sweet aroma.

I must spend time alone with God’s word every day, and submit to the removal of the never-ending layers of my old self. My oniony heart has to be held under the Spirit’s influence until he tugs off the next sticky fault. Gradually, the clinging bonds of pride, self-centeredness, and fretfulness peel away. They yield to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s a lifelong process of replacing rotting personality traits with the fruit of God’s sweet character. 

I return to the process day after day, because I really don’t like the smelly old me—apparently, no one else does either. How clean and right it feels to be transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, make me like you and don’t stop until it is done.

Soaring in the Spirit

God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24)

“Mr. Don, in Pakistan girls not learn bicycle.” Michelle looked at me with the brown eyes of a deer.

I was determined to give this child the thrill of cycling. I held on to the bike and ran after her, calling out winded advice. Michelle’s brothers watched me wear down until intervention was in order. They introduced the Middle Eastern method, which was to ride the bike myself, with the pupil perched in front, and let her gradually take over steering. It worked. Michelle quickly centered her weight, and felt the joy of gliding through space.

Cycling is learned experientially. You have to get on the thing and feel your way forward.

I spent much of my Christian life dodging encounters with the Holy Spirit. There was a nebulous fear that I might “fall off the bike” and look the fool, or it would take me someplace I never wanted to go. I satisfied myself with watching others, and judging their experiences.

In our age of reason we think we’ve given all when we mentally embrace the Trinity. But true worship requires more than a commitment of intellect. I must also lay my body, emotions, and spirit on the altar. A desire to have all of God finally drove me to step out from the sidelines and throw my leg over the bike, to learn experientially. With sweet reminiscence I can name the time and place where I first soared in the Spirit.

The body of Christ is diverse by design. It’s an error to conclude I worship in spirit and truth because someone else’s experiences have come to me. The correct measure is when I have moved out from behind my fears and said, “Unite with me, Lord, in whatever way you choose.” The deeper joy comes, not from receiving supernatural experiences, but from yielding to the Spirit of God.

Prayer: Sweet Spirit, break out of any limitations I have put on you.