Don Goulding - Blog

Death to Death

WolfInSheepsClothing2[We are] always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:10 (NETFull)

Life throbs with dignity while death feeds on desecration. Life and death are two great enemies and my body is their battleground. They are both inside me plotting the demise of one another. Only one can win for eternity.

The death of Jesus was not death to life, it was death to death. He died to defeat death, both at the final resurrection and now in my body. I am to carry his death to death and apply it to whatever will not enter heaven. Pride will never make it into God’s presence, so if I humble myself now, then death dies and life lives.

Wars are won by a series of victorious battles and triumph only comes to me as I choose life in the daily skirmishes. Death ruthlessly dresses up as life. It flays a living gift and pulls on its skin to pose as life. Family, jobs, food, ministry—anytime I concentrate on a gift more than on God, then death is cloaked as life. The insidious goal is for me to worship temporal gifts until I’m attached to them when they burn in the last day.

This is a bloodthirsty war. At each offering of false life, I must club it over the head with the reminder that only Jesus with me, in me, and through me will satisfy. Everything else is death and must be put to death in my heart.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, let me carry around your death to the things of death.

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Hummer Scrooge

Annas hummingbirdSell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out - a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. Luke 12:33 (NETFull)

My esteem of hummingbirds is downgraded. I used to be enchanted by their reaching beaks, emerald backs, and shimmering red throats. Zipping about the flora, they were miniature ornaments of joy on God’s Christmas tree.

Then we hung a feeder by our window. One little guy took to the nectar with enthusiasm and moved his permanent address to our yard. My delight began to wane when he accosted visitors to one of his six feeding ports, including me when I refilled the bottle. I nicknamed him Hummer Scrooge.

My old nature easily slips into a hummingbird mentality. On the outside I act cute and friendly, on the inside I want the best and I want it for myself. I accost any who would dare ask about my overabundance, never mind that God provides it all.

I never found life in that place and I’m not going back there. I’m only open to receive love and laughter when I give my life away. I don’t mean doling out surplus in a tithe but trusting God until I systematically leverage my physical blessings into the spread grace and truth. It sounds irresponsible to our worldly ears but it’s actually natural, the way we were intended to live.

When I keep a fear of giving too deeply I also keep preoccupied stress. My days are consumed with acquiring and maintaining. Possessions own me while I hide behind the rationalization that one needs to be prudent.

Too many words on this subject is just another dodge of the real point. It’s time we come to the question—Am I acting on Jesus’ statement to sell my possessions and give to the poor, or am I another Hummer Scrooge?

Prayer: Father, help me give like you.

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Bankrupt

Indinka childrenFor who concedes you any superiority? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NETFull)

With five Nigerians stuffed into in a motorcar, I plunged over jungle ruts that became a single-track path. The Peugeot parted eight-foot tall sword grass like the Red Sea. When we came to a wide river, I thought our trip must end but we hailed a dugout canoe and paddled on. Next, we abandoned our shoes and machete-slashed our way through an emerald forest. 

The destination was a palm-thatched village where they had little value for modernization, money, or modesty. The tribal elders informed me no white man had ever before been in their village. They treated me like royalty with long stares and much deference. 

Many are the times when I have observed missionaries playing into the reverence the poor give them. I have succumbed to the temptation of that pedestal myself. It’s cultural-centric snobbery at its worst wherein we claim superiority because of our wealth, medicine, and technology. Western affluence overrates temporal comforts and discounts the unencumbered life seeking eternal blessings.

The children running up to touch my hair and giggle had a beautiful existence to which I could only aspire. The joy in the heart of an African child is far more significant to the universe than the ambition of an upwardly mobile materialist. God applauds the one and temporarily abides the other.

It was only with deepest respect that I could humbly offer the villagers the one treasure that would complete an already rich life—Jesus. I had nothing else to give.

Prayer: Holy Jesus, may I never claim to have anything except you.

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