The Pastor’s Corner is written by the pastor of Coronado Bible Church.

Nesting

The warbling notes of its song make me think of home. It sounds like a North American Robin … except this bird rolls it’s “rrrrs.” It must be Panamanian. In the past weeks its song has been constant and repetitive; at five in the morning, at Noon, at dusk … close at hand and far away. Trill answering trill.

The other constant has been its nest building. On one beam of our veranda, a little brown bird is knitting together its casita of twigs and grass. Because the house we’re staying in is on the market, the gardener has knocked the nest down repeatedly. He barely has the mess swept up and the bird is back with another beak full of materials. The feathered builder is relentless and impossible to dissuade.

We are not the first to have our home become a nesting place. The temple in Jerusalem was evidently very popular. According to Psalm 84, “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.” It’s a mundane view of the temple that I hadn’t considered. The mighty ornamental building … with sparrows and swallows tucking their nests in around its massive stone and atop the bronze columns. I wonder if there was a division of junior Levites tasked with the endless job of nest removal.

You might be surprised to learn that the Psalmist mentions the nesting birds with a tinge of envy. In the time he was writing, to be at the temple was to be nearer the presence of God. He longed, like those little birds, to be always in the house of the Lord. He began his song, “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” He could think of nothing better than being close to his God … “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

I don’t have to go to a temple to have access to God. Jesus Christ died on the cross to give me open access to His presence. But I want the same heart as the writer of Psalm 84. When it comes to staying close to God, I want the tenacity of a nesting robin. I want a heart that relentlessly seeks God … a heart that cannot be dissuaded.
 


Reflections:

The shade was deep, the breeze was cool and I was safe … or so I thought. I don’t have much experience with palapa’s on the beach and it shows … literally. I have a picture of my sunburn, but I thought you’d enjoy the beach picture more.

I am fair skinned and have ducked the sun most of my life. My saying has always been, “I have three colors; red, white and … peel.” I know that UV is invisible and harmful in large doses. I know that you can get a sunburn on an overcast day. But I was in serious shade cast by a totally opaque object. How could I get such a serious sunburn? I had not accounted for the power of reflected light. After a little web research, I now know that sand reflects 15% of the sun’s UV radiation and evidently at multiple angles.

What about the power of reflected … love? 1 John 4:19 says, We love because He first loved us. There are myriad meanings for love in our society, but all that is truly love … is reflected love. A little earlier in the same chapter, John wrote, Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. When we love selflessly, sacrificially we are redistributing the love that God has shown into our lives. We cannot create that love, but we can reflect it.

In 2005, Spain, using Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology accounted for half of the potential electricity produced in the world. Its accomplished through thousands of mirrors reflecting the sun’s energy to a focused point, usually superheating and vaporizing liquids to run steam turbines. The power of reflected light grows as it is combined from multiple sources. Again … what about the power of reflected love? 1 John 4:12 gives us the answer, No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. Don’t underestimate the power of reflected love or your capacity to be useful in what God is doing in this world.

 



Presumed Dead

Joseph Sterner III was pronounced dead four times; twice as a POW in the Pacific Theater during WW 2, once in his early sixties … and once for real. Despite those two initial reports, Sterner survived the war, returned home, married and raised five children. Stresses associated with his war experience took their toll and Joseph separated from his family. Then in 1986, his truck was found abandoned in Pittsburgh and he was presumed murdered. After an extensive search and investigation, Sterner was declared legally dead.

Ten years later, the 72 year-old Sterner contacted the family lawyer looking for his vital records so that he could get medical benefits from the Veteran’s Administration. It was the same lawyer who had filed the death petition on behalf of his family.

Jesus Christ, was not presumed dead, He was dead.  Then … there He was alive again! Talking, eating drinking and teaching His baffled, befuddled, dumbstruck disciples. One modern skeptic claimed Jesus only swooned on the cross, but later revived in the coolness of the tomb. I wonder if that cynic considered the report from John 19:39 that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus’ body in “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.” I don’t think being wrapped in 34 kg of spices would aid in reviving someone who was comatose!

Then there are those who admit the reality of Christ’s death, but totally deny His resurrection. “It was merely a hoax perpetrated by his followers,” they say. If that were the case, it would have been audacious for Paul to write that Jesus “appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living.” 1 Corinthians 15:6. At the time Paul was writing, this was an invitation to his readers to investigate the claim from themselves … which they could have done. Jesus was really dead … and now He is really alive! Read the rest of 1 Corinthians 15 and you’ll find out that our entire faith pivots on that one fact!
 
Reprinted from 03/27/2016

 



Sober Celebration

Palm Sunday stirs mixed memories for me …
  • the fragrance of lilies in almost lethal doses,
  • aisles of swaying palm-branched children
  • a live donkey lumbering through our carpeted sanctuary (that could have gone drastically wrong)
  • majestic anthems from the choir
  • stirring sermons about the realities of King Jesus. 

Most all of it was tasteful, well-intentioned and meaningful. But there was always a dissonant note in the music of my soul. The refrain echoed every year … “How could they?” How could the jubilant thronging crowd turn so quickly? How could they cry “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Crucify him!” only days apart? How could the reverently intone, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” and with the same lips mock him? How could the crowd be so fickle? What about His close confidants? It was the same Peter who confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” who later swore “I don’t even know the man!” And why was Jesus’ inner circle so taken off guard by the way events unfolded? The Bible says … And Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 The sense of the passage is that it was a repeated warning … but there was the repeated promise also “and after three days rise again.” How did their faith so quickly bleed out? How did they suffer such a tragic failure to hope?

In the proud petulance of youth, “How could they?” was a cry of disdain. The years have softened my tone to a weeping whisper … “How could I?” I have proven to be as fickle as the crowd. I am prone to praise followed by denial. I grasped great truths but failed to live by them. I have heard the Savior’s call to suffering and been shocked when I must. Palm Sunday has a somber and personal note of realism for me. But it is sober … PRAISE! The same Jesus who said, “You will certainly deny me” sought Peter out after his dark days of denial and said, “Follow me.” Praise God … He still does!
 
 

 



Above the Lines

Gazing out my office window, a ballet of chaos fills my lower vision. Thundering semis shutter, bellowing their disapproval at flea-like taxis. Herds of pedestrians snake between hulking, impatient SUVs. Toro Blancos snort in and out of their stall … gobbling up and disgorging their prey. Young legs climb to safety above the Interamericanna, while knees too old for stairs cross the pulsing vein of metal mortality. The stage below me presents a chaotic dance that somehow works.
 
If I lift my eyes even ten degrees, everything changes. Above the highlines rests a rugged and beautiful peace. Before combustion clambered along filled with its hurried and harried cargo, the scene looked very much the same. A caballero looking out from under his sombrero pintado loved the same mountains when this was a dusty path through the jungle. We have worried the hillsides with our wrinkled roads, but we have not aged them. A humble sort of quiescence floods my soul when I take time to lift my eyes. Mountains tell us the truth about man … and God. Mountains remind me that I am passing and God is not.
 
The setting sun runs the rim’s rugged shadow down over El Valle … reminding me that quickly I have passed half a century. The rains leave for their summer vacation and the verdant green becomes dusty brown. God’s Word is so accurate … “My days are like a lengthened shadow, and I wither away like grass.” Psalm 102:11
 
This Psalm, so replete with examples of human brevity, reminds us that our world is also passing. The hills seem eternal, but they are not. “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Psalm 102:25-27
 
Lifting my eyes above the lines reminds me of the timeless, changeless Creator who predated and outlasts all my earthly troubles. I say with another Psalmist, “I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1–2