Don Goulding - Blog

Truth Eater

DCF00095Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world - to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)

I woke inside our tent and heard the rippling of the Zambezi River. On the other side of the nylon fabric, large molars crunched food and strong breaths rushed from a heavy chest.

A territorial hippo, an elephant, maybe those lions we heard roaring earlier? 

I was nervous about my first camping trip in Africa and sounds grew ominous in the black of night. Everything was on the menu for something else. By morning light, the spore (nice word for poo) confirmed our nocturnal visitor was only a vegetarian eland. I was relieved that nothing had been hungry enough to eat sour, old white guy that night.

Among humans there are differences in appetite for truth. Some only want truth when it brings earthly gain. Others crave truth no matter the cost to temporal self. We range from animalistic snackers to Spirit hungry gorgers.

In the Gospels, Jesus speaks shocking truth that I often waterdown with my interpretations. I take “carry your cross,” “lose your life,” and “turn the other cheek,” and make them into irrelevant metaphors. Read as literal commands they’re too potent for my delicate palate. I prefer diluted half-truths.

Jesus is the grand champion of truth. He not only speaks absolute truth but he also absorbs my falsehood into himself for destruction on the cross. Because he takes my punishment, I can stop watering down Scripture. I can let the poignance of God’s Word expose the fallacies hidden in my heart without fear of judgement.

The work of Jesus changes my spiritual diet. I no longer have to mix my fare with the world’s filler. I can feast in the Bible, savor the most potent truths, and swallow them full strength into who I am.

Prayer: King Jesus, make me a truth eater.

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Big Crumble

Hole in floor sliderThe fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the wild beasts, all the things that creep on the ground, and all people who live on the face of the earth will shake at my presence. The mountains will topple, the cliffs will fall, and every wall will fall to the ground. (Ezekiel 38:20)

Dani and I lived for a while in the California foothills on top of 370 miles of abandoned gold rush mines. In the neighboring town of Alta, a thirty two year old schoolteacher, Jason Chellew, plunged to his death when a twenty foot sinkhole opened beneath his living room. Imagine sitting in front of the TV when the world groans, then falls away.

At first I thought, this guy must have done something that angered God. Then I realized that what happened to Jason will be my destiny too. According to Scripture the world will fall away for every human, then we will face God.

There are only two ways off of this rock, Jesus returns or we die. Either way, it’ll be a shock to find ourselves before the great white throne. To prepare, as soon as our eyes flutter open each morning, we need to choose where we’ll stand when it all cuts loose. As Jason Chellew knows with certainty, it’s not a decision that can be postponed until we’re tumbling through the air. 

I know some who are relying on a flimsy insurance policy to save them when the floor drops out. Years ago they prayed to receive Christ or were baptized at some point in time. Maybe their signature on that waiver will save them, maybe it won’t. Personally, I can’t live with that uncertainty.

Jesus taught us to pray like the sinning rascal in his illustrative story, “The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’” (Luke 18:13) The Lord assured us that this man went to his home justified.

Not only do I daily pray, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner,” but I’m also living that prayer from my heart. God’s faithfulness to answer my plea is what lets me sleep each night. I know when the big crumble hits I will land directly in his arms.

Prayer: Gracious Father, get ready to catch this sinner.

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Superhero

Superman3But David replied to the Philistine [Goliath], “You are coming against me with sword and spear and javelin. But I am coming against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel’s armies, whom you have defied! (1 Samuel 17:45)

Young, ruddy David ran to the battle camp with food for his brothers. Was he thinking, I will carve my name in history today by cutting off the head of Goliath? No, he was delivering cheese and dodging his bossy siblings while trying to get the lowdown on the foulmouthed, nine foot tall Philistine.

David had no delusions of grandeur as King Saul tried to fit him out with armor. He was a boy who watched sheep. But why would God deliver him from bears and lions when he fought for his sheep and not from this overlarge man who slandered the one true Jehovah? David was merely slinging stones and trusting God’s greatness like he always had.

None of us can plan to be a hero. I can’t conspire to write my own tombstone epitaph about greatness. That would only bring false acclaim from an expiring world. True greatness comes not of commanding leadership or financial success but from the strength of my dependance on Jesus. In the eternal landscape, humble faith eclipses every temporal accomplishment.

If Superman with his repertoire of heroic rescues was to trust Jesus as Savior, only then he would he understand greatness. The same is true for each of us. We all have to face the kryptonite of our dark side which leaves no one who is truly great except for Jesus Christ. The rest of us find grandeur by following him, so childlike faith wins the day.

David’s greatness was not in his skill or his cunning but in his trust of God. No one else in Israel’s army had the boyish faith of David. God turned that humble confidence into a giant victory over a giant man, and his economy works exactly the same today.

Prayer: Lord Christ, living hand in hand with you brings greatness.

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