Don Goulding - Blog

Honest Living


IMG 0153For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. John 3:20-21 (NETFull)

Six-year-old Alexis ran giggling into her pastor’s arms only to pinch her nose and say, “Pee-yew, stinky breath.” I was the pastor.

A three-year-old boy named Mateo was one of my best friends in Fiji, even though he often sat on my lap just so he could play with the waddle under my chin.

Children are painfully honest. They haven’t yet adopted our prideful, jaded and fretful ways.

How can I live with childlike honesty without offending adults?

The joy of living inside the bright circle of truth is only for the few who tenaciously pursue honesty. I must admit my past, present and future mistakes. Sin kept in the darkness of secrecy still has power over my heart.

Who must I confess to? First, to myself, and that with the brutal honesty of Alexis and Mateo. Second, to God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9), because I need forgiveness more than I need my next breath. Third, I confess to a pastor, counselor, or accountability partner who prays for my release from bondage (James 5:16).

Blabbing my specific sins to everyone I meet only gives the devil opportunity to tempt others with my failures. But the evil will haunt me until it passes out of my mouth. I must find a praying confidant and disclose every shred of guilt, holding nothing back.

Honest living requires monumental work but the reward is a return to the pure freedom of a child’s heart.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me honestly live in your light.



Playground of Freedom

IMG 6533aFor you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

I walked through the city wearing a custom-tailored sage-green suit. To the casual onlooker, I had the mark of success. I owned a vibrant business, led an industry organization, and gave liberally to charity. Because I was a born-again Christian and had much of what others aspired to, I was blind to my bondage to the world system.

I was a free son of the Most High God voluntarily performing hard labor for my former warden. I wore his enormous yoke around my neck weighed down with worry, fear, and temptation. Burned into the yoke was a label that read Responsibility for Me. I had only given God my salvation, but not my habits, hurts, and hangups. I had to carry those.

When I finally recognized my bondage, I was hornet-mad. I was born a free citizen of God’s kingdom. I gave that freedom up once and Jesus had to buy it back for me. Why should I give it up yet again?

When I choose to live within God’s moral boundaries, I am liberated into a fenced yard where I may dance and safely be me. Those outside my playground wag their heads thinking I am too hemmed in but I ache for my critics. It is they who are outside the yard and separated from God. It is they who are tethered by their own fret for wellbeing, snared in the need for acceptance from others, and used as marionettes beneath temporal pleasure. I say no thank you to that deceitful version of freedom. I will run to the one who calls me into his playground of love.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your insistence that I should be free.


Watering Can


bucket… Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38 (NETFull)

I looked out the mission-house in Zimbabwe to see twelve-year-old Pauline skipping up the driveway. She was coming to make strawberry jam with Dani. This African child was a beam of sunshine. She didn’t walk, she skipped, she didn’t grumble, she sang. My skepticism doubted her perfect joy and I plied the child with questions.

“Hey, Pauline, what would you do if another girl was angry with you?”

“I’d show them the same love Jesus showed me.” A confident dimple punctuated her reply.

Pauline had every reason to be a sullen child. Her parents were taken by AIDS and she shared an orphanage room with fifteen other girls. She was a watering can made to carry God’s joy to thirsty flowers, but life riddled the can with shotgun holes. Rather than abandon her assignment, Pauline let the holes become sprinklers through which she spread more love to those along her path.

The people we are called to love are not only those distant flowers who have been dehydrated by life, but also those along our path. It is those near me that I have the most difficulty loving. I can go into a third-world country and pour myself into the needy but at home I struggle to love my neighbors. God’s loving joy is for both the foreign bloom and the domestic weed.

If I’m truly carrying the living water of Jesus, it becomes an artesian spring I can’t deplete. I can afford to let it spill freely from the holes of my brokenness onto others. The points of my greatest need become the source of my best gifts.

Those near me have seen my dysfunction, now it’s time to let them see grace flowing from those same holes.

Prayer: Jesus, let me carry your love to all people in every circumstance.



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