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

“That’s Ridiculous!”

2016-17-pic“That’s Ridiculous!” Those words are very close to my thoughts way back in 1975 when the teacher handed me a copy of Weekly Reader. Weekly Reader was an educational newspaper distributed to kids in the U.S. school system. What caused such incredulity my nine-year-old brain? A simple math problem: “Your Age + 25 = How old you will be in the year 2000.” I literally remember thinking, “That’s ridiculous! I’ll never be that old!” Even at nine, the forces of cynicism and faith were shaping my world view.
 
On the side of cynicism, was the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Russia. My nascent views on world affairs were being formed by nightly news reports that graphed the numbers of nuclear submarines, warheads and megatons of destructive force owned by the two superpowers. I remember tests of the Emergency Broadcasting System and videos of entire towns disintegrating in the aftermath of one nuclear detonation. All of this had produced a nine-year-old nihilist who could not imagine the world surviving long enough for me to reach the age of thirty-four.
 
Faith … or the religious leanings of my mother, had its own chilling effect on my thoughts of the future. I was living in the religious aftermath of Hal Lindsey’s 1970 End-times, best-seller, The Late, Great Planet Earth. In 1972, Russel Doughten had released “A Thief in the Night” depicting a modern and sensationalistic interpretation of the events of the book of Revelation. The movie seemed crafted to make a Christians doubt their salvation, and it worked on me. I was convinced that Christ would return before I reached adulthood and was pretty sure I wouldn’t make the cut.
 
So here we are in 2017! Is Christ going to return and bring human history to a close? Yes … I believe God’s Word teaches that. So … what happened? 2 Peter 3:9 explains, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
 
Welcome to 2017, another year of our Lord’s Grace. What will you do with it?

 

 


Auld Lang Syne

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Auld Lang Syne appears to have been an existing Scottish folk song, chronicled and amended by their famous poet and author, Robert Burns. Burns sent the first known copy to the Scotts Musical Museum in 1788, claiming he had taken down the words from an old man. The obscure phrase so often repeated in the song, means roughly “old long since” conveying the idea “long, long ago” or “in times past.” It can be found at the beginning of Scottish fairy tales as the equivalent for “once upon a time.” The song has been a traditional favorite in English speaking countries for saying goodbye to the past year. It is also used by some nations for funerals and graduations.
 
This year, I stumbled across Christian words set to this well-known tune by a young writer named Dustin Kensrue . I find them powerful words for reflecting on the meaning of both the passing and the coming year. They offer a Biblical perspective on life and I intend to sing them this week as I hail the coming year. Here they are if you’d like to join me.
 
Should nothing of our efforts stand, no legacy survive;
Unless the Lord does raise the house, in vain its builders strive.
 
To you who boast tomorrow’s gain, tell me what is your life;
A mist that vanishes at dawn, all glory be to Christ!.
 
All glory be to Christ our king! All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing.  All glory be to Christ!
 
His will be done, His kingdom come on earth as is above;
Who is Himself our daily bread, praise Him the Lord of love.
 
Let living water satisfy the thirsty without price
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, all glory be to Christ!
 
All glory be to Christ our king! All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing.  All glory be to Christ!
 
When on the day the great I Am, the faithful and the true;
The Lamb who was for sinners slain is making all things new.
 
Behold our God shall live with us and be our steadfast light;
And we shall ere his people be, all glory be to Christ!
 
All glory be to Christ our king! All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing.  All glory be to Christ!
 

 



Power-Grab

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Last week I confessed my love for the Carols of our faith … and the Holiday Classics. There is, however, one song that always bothers me. It was cowritten by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn and sung by my favorite Christmas crooner, Bing Crosby. It has a melody that imbeds easily in your neural synapsis and runs ad nauseam until supplanted by another song of equal or greater irritation. But that’s not what bothers me. I object strongly to the words of “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” The song is a brazen Christmas power-grab.
 
He sees you when you’re sleepin’
He knows when you’re a wake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake
 
The song takes attributes only belonging to God (Omniscience and Omnipresence) and attributes them to a fictitious fat man. There is only One who sees you when you’re sleeping. What a comfort to hear the words of the Psalmist … He who watches over you will not slumber (Psalm 121:3). There is only One who has the global awareness of your waking and walking through this life. What a comfort to hear Jesus say … Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).
 
The other aspect of this song that bothers me is the blatant motivation to goodness based on earning Santa’s favor. This is the polar opposite of the Gospel. God saw mankind’s inability to be good and met the requirements of his own righteousness at his own expense.
 
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!    Romans 5:8-10
 


Classic … faith

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I enjoy the Holiday classics. My heart thrills to the theologically rich carols about the Messiah’s birth. I also enjoy sentimental crooners who sing about a “White Christmas” or being home for it “if only in their dreams.”  Maybe it’s because it’s the music of my much-loved parents … or maybe it’s because Bing Crosby is one of the few entertainers who sings in my range. Whatever the reason, I went looking for some good old-fashioned Christmas music and found an internet station playing a great mix of Christian and secular songs.
 
After enduring “Blue Christmas” and “Hear Comes Santa Clause,” violins started schmaltzing out a familiar melody … but it didn’t ring any Christmas bells (pardon the pun). Then Bing started singing and I was amazed to hear these words …
 
Faith of our fathers, living still in spite of dungeon, fire and sword,
O how our hearts beat high with joy whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers! holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!
 
I had never considered that hymn a Christmas Carol, but an online search revealed that it’s included on several Christmas albums. Nothing in it expressly speaks about Christmas themes and I still have not discovered why it would be in this genre.
 
Perhaps it simply came from a time when people believed that the message of Messiah’s birth was worth dying for … and living out. “Listen” to the last two verses … and may this be the resolve of all who understand the true meaning of Christmas:
 
Faith of our fathers, we will love both friend and foe in all our strife,
And preach thee, too, as love knows how by kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers! holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!
 
Faith of our fathers, we will strive to win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God mankind shall then indeed be free.
Faith of our fathers! holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!
 


Christmas is a Person

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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.