Published: Monday, 04 January 2021 19:04
Written by Don Goulding
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12)
Oliver lies on his deathbed, pulling in his final breaths. To his gathered loved ones, this passing appears serene. But, on the other side of the veil, demons grope for a permanent hold on the soul they have deceived so long. The sulfurous pack hushes to witness the final moment. Three, two, one—the victim’s spirit slips from his body, and into demonic talons. They screech in victory as another human joins them in judgment, eternal gnashing, and weeping.
We are at war. It’s a devastating engagement, and untold millions of souls will die before it is over. The stakes are far higher than the loss of life or freedom. Losing your country is one thing, but losing God is entirely worse. Over the first loss we lament mere years—with the other loss the bitterness rages through eternity.
Earth’s most dangerous terrorists look like Bambi next to our unseen enemies. Each day, fallen evil spirits patiently release hundreds of pollutants to haunt our minds. It’s a war of subtlety. We are nudged away from salvation, one unholy thought at a time. These haters of God’s children want to tip the scales away from dependence on Jesus. They ease wickedness onto the balance pan in single gains—pride, anger, fretfulness, and the most insidious, apathy.
There’s a powerful defense that sends our adversaries shrieking. Nothing demonic can assault me while my mind is absorbed with the love of King Jesus. Adoration of Jesus—it’s simple, it’s effective. Worship keeps demons at bay because their vileness comes through a single point of entry, my mind. I am the temple of the Lord, and as long as there’s a praise service underway, darkness is barred from entry.
The battle is too significant to trust in any defense other than a life lived in worship of Christ.
Prayer: Lion of Judah, help me to wear the armor of worship of you.
Published: Tuesday, 29 December 2020 17:34
Written by Don Goulding
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, 42)
Icy frost covers the lawn. Not without struggle, I will myself out of bed and into my beanbag chair for devotions. Wrapped in a comforter, and with my Bible in front of me, I’m set for an encounter with the Living God.
Then it hits. A really good sermon topic pops into my mind. I scramble to get it on paper before it evaporates. An hour later, I realize I’ve been suckered. I could have touched the presence of Yahweh, but instead, I drafted a sermon. The enemy of the best is the good.
The sun has gone to bed, and I am rubbing my brow while contemplating the day. It was good, jammed with kingdom productivity. I answered my calls and messages. I counseled a couple, cleared the mail, made it to the bank, fixed the toilet, and survived an elders’ meeting. But, not once can I recall listening for the love of God. I’ve been ripped-off, again. The enemy of the best is the good.
Making dinner for her Lord was a good gesture, but it was not the best. Martha’s sister was doing the best. Mary was sitting goo-goo eyed at Jesus’s feet, absorbing his presence and truth. That was the best.
Our sly enemy uses the good to derail us from the best. I’m not going to fall for it. I’ll not accept anything but a red hot, spirit tingling, impassioned relationship with Jesus. There are thousands of substitutes, and many of them are quite good. But they don’t shoot out sparks like a connection with the Spirit of Jesus.
I choose what Mary chose. I refuse good enough, and press on to hovering in the tangible awareness that I’m cherished by God in Christ. That’s the best event of any day, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the good in the world.
Prayer: Savior, keep me from the busyness that prevents fellowship with you.
Published: Monday, 21 December 2020 19:23
Written by Don Goulding
Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
“There’s one coming toward you. Get it.” I pointed into warm, calf-deep water at a parrot fish as it darted from one clump of rocks to another.
Polynesians joined me in herding our prey toward a woman with a machete. Her job was to club the fish. Children squealed and laughed, as they carted each dinner catch to the boat.
For two months, I was privileged to live in a Fijian village for language immersion. Communal lawns separated the two dozen houses, and ran down to the beach, where palms leaned over a turquoise reef. Fish, gardens, and coconuts sustained life.
More than the local language, I learned about contentment. At first, I was fidgety and doubted I’d stay long. There was no electricity, indoor plumbing, or even a store. What did these people do with themselves for sixteen hours each day?
I forced myself to learn the rhythm of the village, to do what they did, when they did it. Each morning, before sunrise, we heard the lali drum—a hollowed log beaten with two sticks that made a flat, thunking sound. It was the call to wake and begin personal devotions. Soon after, women started fires in their outdoor kitchens, children washed their faces and donned their school uniforms, and men collected a few papaya or breadfruit.
Throughout the day, one task led to another, but there was never a hurry. Wringing out the wash, weaving a grass matt, or herding parrot fish—everything was done while chatting and laughing, and almost always in a group. What these people didn’t have was furniture, electronics, or cars. What they did have was community, natural food, and serenity. They lived content, refreshingly immune to the ambition to own more or achieve a higher position.
Missionaries have more to learn than they have to teach—at least this one does. I needed the islanders to teach me a slower lifestyle, and freedom from mania over my next toy or experience.
Prayer: Generous Father, let me rest content in your salvation today.