Don Goulding - Blog

Shun Decay

gospelBut to Adam he said, “Because you obeyed your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground thanks to you …” Genesis 3:17

I squatted by a campfire with African refugees in a Côte d’Ivoirian shantytown. In the sand, I drew two parallel lines to show the gulf of sin. A stick figure depicted man on one side and a radiant cloud represented God on the other. As I added a cross over the gap, my interpreter explained the gospel.

A Liberian man in his thirties crawled from under the plastic tarp of his hovel to join our group. His living space was one meter high by one meter wide. He made no claim on Jesus that day, but hopefully a seed was planted because he must have more. I wanted him to understand the offer of salvation so his squalor might be replaced by paradise.

As we talked, children played around the ramshackle camp. I asked myself how they could be so nonchalant about their circumstances. But the little ones had no clue they were the poorest of the poor. They were too young to remember anything except fleeing war and bivouacking.

I, too, fail to grasp how cursed is my preliminary existence on earth because it’s all I’ve known. I have a hard time imagining life without brokenness. Everything is infected by the curse of Adam. Rivers writhe with microscopic terrorists, animals and humans eat one another, and my own thoughts can’t remain pure. Nothing I experience today will be whole, and still I go on laughing.

It’s okay to be at peace because Jesus has a scheduled plan for remaking heaven and earth. It’s not okay to be content with this life as it is. This is not God’s final work. That refugee man must have more, and so must I.

Prayer: Spirit of Jesus, separate my heart from the corruption of life.


The Key

reinstating the key of knowledgeThis is the solemn pronouncement of the Holy One, the True One, who holds the key of David, who opens doors no one can shut, and shuts doors no one can open … (Revelation 3:7)

For thousands of years, men searched for the key. Music and laughter streamed from under the door, but outside in the stinging cold, judgement waited in darkness.

Abraham, Moses, and David hungered after the key. In Solomon’s day, the door was still shut. He had untold wealth, a thousand beautiful wives, and the finest intellect on earth, but none of those would crack the door. Solomon’s conclusion—“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’” (Ecclesiastes 12:8) (NIV)

Then, at the perfect moment in history, after men had exhausted every effort to open the lock, the key fell from heaven.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

The key slipped into the lock, the tumblers fell into place, and the door swung wide. Death stayed outside. And more than eternal life alone, the Messiah opened purpose and hope, growth and love. Every tumbler of life was released where it engaged Jesus.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross - through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:19-20)

It’s been one hundred generations since the key fell, and now it’s my turn on the timeline of history. What those before me sought with tears, I take for granted. I was born with the key in my hand, so I don’t even bother to fit it into the lock. Apathy is my most infernal curse.

I have the key. The Key! I have access to every answer, all of life is open to me for a twist of my wrist. Solomon with his wealth and brains didn’t have what I have—the key that opens life’s meaning.

But will I turn the lock and go in?

Therefore we must be wary that, while the promise of entering his rest remains open, none of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)


Prayer: Lord Jesus, come unlock every part of my life.


Go African

DCF00017 1Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. (1 Timothy 6:6, 7)

I walked past a line of patients waiting outside our makeshift dental clinic in Zimbabwe. Inside, the dentist aimed a flashlight and a needle into an open mouth. A kitchen chair and some extraction tools completed the operating theater.

In rural Africa there’s no money for prevention or fillings. When a tooth hurts, it’s extracted. After the last patient, the dentist showed me a tub of seventy-nine teeth pulled that day.

Those patients had waited for the rare opportunity when a dentist would help them without full payment. That meant there were many Africans normally living with elevated tooth pain, and yet they were always cheerful when I met them on the bush paths.

This is a primary difference between African Christians and me. They are diligent in spiritual arenas and passive with earthly circumstances. I’m nonchalant about spiritual matters and appalled with physical brokenness. Given the chance to exchange their spiritual wealth for physical prosperity, I believe most native disciples would refuse. They know the importance of what they have and don't have.

I want to go African. I want their perspective. If the poor natives can take their broken circumstances together with God’s promises and thrive, then so can I. Push my heartaches into a pile, then let me clap and boogie around them, African style. Let’s celebrate together because God redeems.

Materialism robs me of the African’s simple contentment. Less is more. I need less entertainment and more Spirit filling, fewer possessions and deeper relationships. But the less must come before the more, and my old nature doesn’t want to accept that order. But maybe I can watch the African and force my flesh to learn.

Prayer: Jesus, teach my heart true contentment.


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