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

Christmas is a Person

jesus-is-the-reason-for-the-season
2010 and 2011 was a time of God renewing my passion for His mission. He greatly increased my desire to be personally involved in seeing people find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Every time I turned around He was showing me something new about how blessed I was to know Jesus … or how truly lost a person is without Him. Here’s a Facebook post from November 30, 2011 that captures the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.
 
A hauntingly beautiful voice lilted a line of questions through my radio this morning … “Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away?” The song created both joy and sorrow in my heart at the same time; Joy that the Answer found me, sorrow that people are looking for that Christmas feeling without realizing that Christmas is ultimately a person. He isn’t hiding, he wants to be found, he hasn’t gone away. Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us … find him and you’ll find Christmas!
 
It’s easy to lose the real meaning of Christmas. It’s also easy to lose your passion for the Gospel. This year, let’s remember that they are intimately connected …
 
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
 
Is there some step you can take in your community to show that you agree? Something as simple as inviting a friend to church. Polls show that people are ten times more likely to respond to an invitation to attend church during the Christmas season.


Circular Sin

circulars

I used to frequently indulge in a peculiar sin pattern. Sunday after church we’d lunch out with friends or family and then stop by the store for a few things on the way home. I liked going to Wal-Mart because they had my recreational drug of choice. Since we lived in the Chicago area, it came in a large package, roughly the weight of fireplace log. You needed to be sure to go several layers down to get the complete product, but it was a bargain at $1.50. I’m talking about the Sunday Edition Chicago Tribune.
 
I didn’t read the news, the cultural section or the sports. In fact, all of that was a giant waste of tree fiber. I wanted two things; the comics and most of all the circulars. That’s right, my purchase was purely anesthetic in nature. I planned to take it home, laugh a little, dream a little and then fall asleep under a warm layer of sales ads.
 
Circulars are interesting windows into culture, technology and … or souls. My problem with sales circulars was that I didn’t just look, sometimes I bought. There’s no problem with purchasing things that you need, but “need” became a rather loose category. So, not only did we purchase things we didn’t need, we spent money we didn’t have. I finally realized that my Sunday routine had become “Circular Sin.”
 
One wake-up call for me was being unable to help a friend with a need because we had too many payments. My attraction to stuff and the debt incurred caused me to transgress one of God’s commands on two fronts. Romans 13:8 says,
 
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
 
My love of stuff had made it impossible for me to love my friend in the tangible way he needed. Because I owed creditors, I could not pay my debt of love. The desire to be free to love others has loosened the grip of junk. Lord complete the work! (See also 1 John 2:15-17)


Spiritual Ear Training

dictating-to-the-computer

Today’s pastors corner was written by speaking into a computer program. I tried this years ago but the programs were a bit glitchy. The one I used originally could learn your speech patterns. For instance, I might say my name and it would type “John was already” instead of “Jon Wiziarde.” You could stop, say “spell that” and then spell out the word. The next time you used that word, there was a much better probability that the computer would understand correctly. The more you used the program, the better the accuracy.
 
That was probably 10 years ago and things have advanced greatly. This entire Pastor’s Corner was dictated on the internet using Google Docs and it’s doing amazingly well. Sitting alone in my office talking to my computer is a bit strange, but I guess some people do it all the time. Hey, this is the closest I have come to having a personal secretary. Now if I could just get my computer to make coffee. 🙂  Okay that’s just weird, I said “smiley face,” and it knew what I meant.
 
Before I get too weirded out about the technology, let me get to the point. People seem incredibly hungry these days to hear from God. Many are talking about prophecies, visions and dreams. I don’t want to discount these. I believe that God still speaks through his Holy Spirit to his people. Two things do alarm me:
 
  1. Much of what I hear reported as prophetic conflicts with God’s written word and
  2. Increasing numbers of people hold private revelations in higher regard than God’s written revelation.
 
Even if we’re not talking about prophecies or visions, when we seek God’s guidance, how can we know his voice?  We need someone to train and correct our spirits, until we hear accurately … until we can discern the voice of God as opposed to the voice of our desires … or worse influences. There are only two ways to accomplish this:
 
  1. Systematic and repeated exposure to God’s written Word, followed by,
  2. Active obedience to God’s Word.

 

If you’re not doing those regularly … don’t expect to “hear” from God (Romans 12:2). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the God we know. He inspired the Bible that you possess and he will not contradict himself. 2 Peter 1:19-21


Looking (TOO) Good

good-bad-jonThe first time I took a selfie with my new camera phone, I couldn’t believe how it turned out. I looked at the picture and thought … I didn’t realize my face was that thin … and look how few wrinkles I have for a guy my age. Man, my teeth are white and … look at how my eyes sparkle. I had no idea I still looked that good! 
 
Well … here’s the deal. I discovered that my new phone’s camera has a “beauty mode” … that … um … fixes things. You can set the beauty control on a ten-point scale between “Plain Jane” and “Stunning.” It also has a “compare” button so you can see before and after … not a good idea, unless you have a healthy self-image.
 
THIS IS NOT A GREAT INVENTION. Being made to look better now will only make me look that much worse in the future. If I publish the doctored picture online for all my friends back home to see … the future “in-person” experience will be a horrible shock. They’ll think “My, my how quickly the work has aged poor Pastor Jon.”
 
The sad thing is that many of us turn on the “beauty control” every time we walk through the door of the church. Looking too good now, might make you look that much worse later. Sadder yet, maybe we’ll never get to know, help or encourage the real you.
  • Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 
  • Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 
  • But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

It’s going to be hard to keep those commands if we never take it off “beauty mode.”



Introducing Today’s Speaker:

wiziarde-family-circus-posterWelcome to the pulpit a speaker raised on the central plains of the United States. His maternal grandfather (Heinrich) fled Russia during the Bolshevik Rebellion. His paternal great-grand-father (Robert) came to the States with a French Boys’ Choir and jumped ship (he was an undocumented singer). Robert went on to distinguish himself as a published author, playwright, composer and voice teacher. The middle of his three sons carried on the performing tradition, first appearing as a solo high-wire artist (Koko the Balancing Clown) with circus’ like Whitehall and Ringling Brothers. He later formed his own traveling circus … this may explain a lot about today’s speaker.
 
Our speaker felt the call to ministry at age seven, but his first years of paid employment were in the restaurant industry; the last three of which were spent as a Chinese Chef (he was never actually Chinese … but he loved learning to prepare their cuisine). Though he truly loved this latter job, its grueling hours and miniscule remuneration convinced him to get a college education.
 
He initially pursued a Performing Arts degree which led to some interesting experiences: preforming a self-choreographed dance in front of 500 people, a short stint as a ventriloquist, many theater performances and most significantly his appearance as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. This was significant because while he was playing the lion, his future wife was playing the piano (she was the accompanist … there are no talking pianos in that play). Anyway, they fell in love and when he finally got the ‘Noiv’ he asked the pianist to marry him. Shortly before meeting his wife, your speaker changed his degree to Religion and Philosophy, surrendering to God’s persistent calling into the ministry.
 
You probably have heard much of the rest of his story … but your speaker is still amazed that somewhere in that strange and winding past God had planned to bring him to Pastor in Panama.
 
Truly … Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.  (Proverbs 19:21)