Published: Monday, 28 January 2019 18:20
Written by Don Goulding
Woe to them! For they have traveled down Cain’s path, and because of greed have abandoned themselves to Balaam’s error; hence, they will certainly perish in Korah’s rebellion. Jude 1:11 (NETFull)
The largest facet on top gleams with pristine silver light. Two of the planes show color. One is mountain sky blue, the other holds a rainbow spanning yellow to fuchsia. Each of the eight triangle cuts is razor-clean, forming the tapered cylinder of the perfect diamond.
Beware, oh lover, don’t be deceived dear bride, that rarest of gems symbolizing a sacrificial vow may well be a counterfeit made of cubic zirconia. Zirconia looks, cuts and sparkles like diamond but it’s manmade. Naturally occurring diamonds are much rarer and therefore truly expensive.
Cain brought produce from the ground as an offering to the Lord. He invented his own sacrifice without seeking what God approved. Balaam intended on cursing the Israelites but his donkey refused to continue because it had more respect for God than did Balaam. Korah decided his approach to God was as good as Moses’s and his coup of the high priesthood was swallowed into a shortcut to hell.
Cain, Balaam, and Korah all tried to pass cubic zirconia off as diamonds. They offered manmade worship instead of inquiring about God’s terms of devotion. Zirconia worship construes God as we want him to be, while diamond worship lets God reveal himself as he is. Behind the first form of adoration is a preoccupation with me, while the second holds God as primary.
As I talk with people about God, I find the world rife with folks who want the benefits of posing as holy, engaging the supernatural, and going to heaven, but they don’t want to encounter the real God. It’s no wonder because the only path there takes me through the swamp of my sinfulness and who wants to wade in that stench.
To avoid the trap of Cain, Balaam and Korah, I must answer a question—Does my worship source from human imagination or am I pursuing the genuine God as revealed in the Christian Bible?
Prayer: Let me worship the real one true God.
Published: Monday, 21 January 2019 19:42
Written by Don Goulding
You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life. John 5:39-40 (NETFull)
When I was working in Albania, a small boy couldn’t reach the table from his chair. I slid a thick Bible under the lad to boost him a few inches.
“How dare you use the Word of God to sit on,” an Albanian missionary said with wide eyes.
Sufficiently rebuked, I replaced the Bible with a pillow. It made me wonder which was more sacred, the paper, ink and leather of the Bible or the child who sat on it. I recalled that the living word of God, Jesus, allowed children to sit on him.
The Bible is the complete and inerrant written word of God and as such its truth must govern my faith. However, I must not allow the Bible to become something it is not. It is not a lucky talisman and it is not the object of my adoration. The truth the Bible contains is to be cherished, not the textual media itself.
Coming from a culture in which we tout our degrees of advanced learning, I catch myself idolizing bookish knowledge about Jesus instead of Jesus himself. He wants so much more than my head learning or rote obedience. He wants to saturate me to the very core.
On close examination every book in the Bible points to Jesus Christ. Genesis promises one to come who will crush Satan. That’s Jesus. The books of the law introduce the need for a sacrificial lamb—Jesus again. All the poetry, prophets, and of course the New Testament speak, at least symbolically, of Jesus. The Bible is a miraculous blessing because the Holy Spirit uses it to carry me to Jesus who is the true and full word of God.
The best way I know to respect Bibles, crosses, angels and whatever else points to Jesus is to not stop short at worship of them, but to go all the way to Jesus himself so that I may have life—full, eternal, really fun life.
Prayer: Jesus, Holy Word of God, consume me.
Published: Monday, 14 January 2019 18:36
Written by Don Goulding
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that those who do not see may gain their sight, and the ones who see may become blind.” John 9:39 (NETFull)
The sanctuary was crowded with squirming kids. All week the vacation Bible school told us how much God loved us and how everybody needed Jesus as Savior. The message saturated my eleven-year-old heart and pumped through my veins, right up to my eyes. Things looked different. A black chasm of sin appeared between me and the ball of light that was God. When the man at the front said come forward if you want Jesus to forgive you, I went.
I woke the next day and my vision was still different. I saw that my mother also followed my new friend, Jesus. She gave me a paperback New Testament with funny stick figures inside and I couldn’t stop reading it. My new eyes made me understand things I’d previously missed, like why I needed to stop fighting with my sisters.
Time dulled my new sight. During my teenage years I focused on the offerings of this dark world. I was going blind again.
As my special vision faded, God told me to get it back or give it up forever. I was nineteen and he held out an offer to join a traveling missionary group, or I could stay with my drugy friends. It was time to really choose. I had looked into an existence of light and I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t there. I chose the difficult process of training my focus on God’s kingdom. It continues today.
Life is as simple as choosing what to see. I have to be blind in one way or the other—to the world or to eternity. I can only turn my head toward one reality at a time. If the world system is the object of my sight, then my faith crumbles to death. When I stare at eternity, the world grows dim and truth solidifies into the person of Jesus.
Prayer: Exalted One, I can see and you are a beautiful sight.