Don Goulding - Blog

Off the Couch

I tell you the solemn truth, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

“Hey, Junior, get your old man another beer, and move your fat carcass out of the way of the Home Shopping Channel.”

Except for the grace of God, it might have been me saying those words. Thankfully, as a Christ infused human, I’m transformed from a spiritual couch potato into a cosmic adventurer.

Every day Jesus asks if I want to come out and join his fun. But, before I jump in, I have to pack for a spiritual adventure. First, I must strip down to only the material belongings necessary for a warrior. Whatever possessions I keep will call me indoors, out of the excitement. Second, I must release my claims to health and longevity on earth. Mollycoddling my body will make me cry like a baby at every discomfort and skinned knee. Third, I need to throw off the sour blanket of my agenda. Only the sweet joy of doing God’s business will satisfy.

 There are souls to rescue, casualties to heal, and strongholds to pray down. No demonic barrier will stand before my King. We will march out under his banner to pillage the enemy’s camp and hurl spiritual mountains into the sea.

When Jesus went to the Father, he left us in charge of liberating captives. Before he departed, our big brother put his truth in our hands, his Spirit in our hearts, and his name on our foreheads. We are fully armed to have conquering good times.

The question for my heart is this, “Are you up for eternal adventures, or do you want to watch sitcoms?”

Prayer: Jesus my warrior King, lead me out.

My Tree

Then the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17)

There’s a tree in the center of my garden. All around the tree, the garden provides abundant life. But of the tree, I may not partake.

My tree has a name. I don’t like to say it, but I know it well. Each day, I see the tree, there in the middle. Everybody has a tree. They have names like fear, lust, and pride. I don’t know all of them, but I know my tree. It peeks through other foliage reminding me of its forbidden status.

My bent nature, and the indulgences of those around me, keep me from loathing my tree as I should. And so I tasted the fruit. I hated myself afterward, and stayed far from the tree. But even at the edge of my garden, I spotted splashes of color from the fruit.

Jesus came into my garden. He led me back to the tree and touched each fruit. My bite marks instantly healed over, but at the same time, wounds appeared on his body. Then he took me by the hand and we walked through the garden in the cool of the evening. Joy interlaced its fingers with peace. I didn’t feel the usual tug of the tree, not even when we were near it.

“There’s another, the Tree of Life,” Jesus said. “One day you’ll eat of that one. It has all of the bliss of your tree, but none of the addiction, destruction, or neurosis. Wait for that tree.”

While we laughed and played, my thoughts were consumed by Jesus. Then I bounded away to investigate a waterfall. From the height of a verdant cliff, I could see red dots hanging from the tree at the center of my garden. I thought, If I don’t get back to Jesus, the tree will have me again.

Prayer: Jesus, keep me close, protect me from temptation.

True Pleasure

Then he said to them, “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

In Germany, an acquaintance showed me his new BMW he’d picked up that day. An unspoken spark jumped the cultural barriers, because we both appreciated a beautiful automobile. We walked around the sleek, black trophy with the awe reserved for cathedrals. He opened the door and invited me to sit inside, and even drive if I wanted. The smell of new car and leather was seductive, and I imagined he would name it after a swank German actress. The doors closed with a precisely fitting thud.

Let’s go back over this moment of car ecstasy with the objective eyes of a nontemporal being. Our joy over the aerodynamic lines was nothing more than biochemical traces in our brain neurons left by previous encounters with automobiles in which we were told, “This is a nice car.” The exciting aroma was the outgassing of construction materials, primarily toluene and trimethylbenzene, transmitted to our sensory nose hairs. My imaginary personification of an inanimate object was responsible for ascribing gender to the apparatus. The satisfying door closure resulted from displaced air molecules creating sonic waves that vibrated our eardrums.

Often my pleasures and comforts are just so many reactions of chemistry. To grow up into Christ means I begin to delight in pleasures that are eternal, like love and peace. As a spiritual being, I can live above the base physical elements. I need to own fewer belongings but possess greater kindness, to acquire more faithfulness before a larger estate.

How beautiful and fulfilling it is to have a portfolio of goodness, mercy, and service, and to give monetary reserves to charity. Some would say that’s an irresponsible life. I say it is reckless to live for that which produces a momentary chemical stimulus, and forgo investments into eternal love and its many dividends.

Prayer: Everlasting God, set my mind on true pleasures.