Published: Monday, 01 April 2019 15:21
Written by Don Goulding
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3) (NIV)
A young missionary couple took me aside at a party.
“Can we tell you about how we met?” blonde Californian Leah said.
“I really wanted to attend Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe but I had a brain tumor. As churches around the world prayed, a torrent of God’s peace swirled through my heart. It grew into an all-consuming flood. I wanted it to swallow me. I told my doctor I would forego treatment and trust God. He told me I was foolish.”
Leah enthusiastically sold her belongings in preparation for college or death. Whichever came first was fine with her.
Balazs took over the story with his Hungarian accent. “I was forced to drop out of college because I had aggressive testicular cancer and less than a ten percent chance of survival. As hundreds prayed for me, bubbling peace filled my heart also. I didn’t know Leah who lived on the other side of the world but I knew the same overwhelming peace she discovered.
“My body wasted away until I could wrap my thumbs and fingers around my thigh. I grew eager to meet the source of my amazing peace.
“When treatments were no help, I discontinued them and waited to see how I would win—with a miraculous cure or go to heaven. The doctors fought my decision with legal actions, calling it suicide, but I laughed and continued to trust in God alone.”
Back in America, Leah’s doctor raised his eyebrows in amazement over her latest test results. The tumor had disappeared. As a result, he became a Christian, quit his practice and left for the mission field.
Leah left for Bible college in Hungary. Leah met Balazs. They had a lot in common, including God’s peace and a miraculous cure that later came to Balazs as well.
“He asked me to marry him and I couldn't resist his handsome smile.” Leah’s eyes beamed at her husband. “Now we live only for God.”
After his parables, Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” His point was that some stories are meant to change the listeners. This is one of them.
Prayer: Prince of Peace, reign in my heart above all else.
Published: Monday, 25 March 2019 14:49
Written by Don Goulding
Jerusalem will no longer be enclosed by walls because of the multitude of people and animals there. But I (the Lord says) will be a wall of fire surrounding Jerusalem and the source of glory in her midst. (Zechariah 2:4-5)
“Brr, swoosh,” a big-eyed, brown skinned boy glided a shard of mirror through the air at his orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. I watched from a distance to avoid bursting his imaginary world. A fragment of glass isn’t a safe plaything and I considered taking the shard away. I couldn’t confiscate his toy without deflating an entire universe of souls desperate for rescue by the heroic Shard of Mirror.
In my own life, I can pick up one shard of life’s brokenness and build an entire universe of delusions around it. A big part of my make-believe world is the wall that surrounds my heart. I imagine bricks of acceptance mortared with ample finances will save me from deadly missiles. I get so caught up in adding defenses that I’m not even aware demons are handing them to me.
The higher my wall rises, they more necessary it becomes in my mind. My wall makes perfect sense to me. Your wall is the one I question. I don’t understand your preoccupations and you think my worries are silly.
“Wake up,” Jesus says. “You don’t need your pretend defenses because you have me.”
He’s right. While some of my fears are from real threats, my defenses are as imaginary as the orphan child’s fantasies. Jesus is the only true wall around me. He alone saves me from my sin guilt. He is the one shield that prevents the missiles of life from ever touching my eternal soul. Wherever I go and whatever happens, Jesus my Sovereign King is there ensuring I have everything I need to honor God in the moment. He will never leave me or forsake me—his words.
I have a wall of fire protecting me and his name is Jesus.
Prayer: Mighty Defender, take down my ridiculous walls so I’ll depend on you.
Published: Monday, 18 March 2019 16:24
Written by Don Goulding
I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. (2 Samuel 6:21-22) (NIV)
In West Africa they use a method of collecting offerings I call boogie for bucks. The worship band cuts loose with a beat that would make a Buckingham Palace guard tap his foot. Men, women and children in bright Sunday finery form a Conga line and dance past the offering box where they drop off the goods.
On a Sunday forever etched into my memory, I visited a church that added a new twist to boogie for bucks. I couldn’t understand the Nigerian instructions but recognized the offering song. Eager to demonstrate my grasp of their culture, I jumped into the line, money in hand.
It was somewhere past the box, as I shook my bootie in place, that several observations stole over me. First, compared to the other worshipers, I was painfully rhythm challenged. Second, every eye was on me. Third, the men were still seated and only the women danced with me. There was nothing to do except boogie all the long way around the church and back to my chair and enjoy my lesson in humility.
Whether it’s boogie for bucks or singing hymns, one of the richest gifts to earthbound saints is corporate worship. I may exalt God privately all week but I still love to gather with believers for praise and celebration. Like a sip from the throne room in heaven, it strengthens me to join others touched by God.
What matters during worship is not if our service is traditional or contemporary, but if it is genuine. Nothing is as boring as false liturgy or fake ecstasy. When I look at you or you look at me and we recognize someone so moved by the King of Kings that we transcend caring what others think, that’s dignified worship.
Prayer: Mighty God, help me get over myself and worship you.