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

If It’s Not Broken … Replace It:

 

broken wheel

I noticed it first taking the curves in the mountains heading toward the city. The steering felt loose and the car seemed to float a little on right hand turns. It wasn’t terrible, just a little harder to keep in the lane. It only added a little exhilaration to our drive. 
 
As soon as two essentials lined up (time and money) I headed to the shop. The mechanic ran our SUV up on the lift and quickly identified several problems. The main issue was with the left hand linkage for the stabilizer bar assembly. It wasn’t broken … it wasn’t there! Almost every other bushing in the steering linkage was shot. I guess Panama is hard on your steering.
 
Have you ever seen a car with one of its wheels facing the wrong direction? That’s what we were headed for … and it could have resulted in worse than being stuck on the side of the road. We do drive an SUV …Suddenly Upside-down Vehicle. I thank God for the resources to take care of the problem.
 
Have you ever felt a little drift in your life? Like you’re having a harder time keeping life on track. It doesn’t feel bad at first, just a little fading over the center line. The rougher the terrain, the higher the speed, the more curves get thrown at you … the more dangerous life feels. Soon, your white-knuckling through situations as your pulse and BP rise. You feel as if your careening through life and just might lose control. Things could end up … upside-down.
 
Have you checked the stabilizer linkage for your life lately? It could be damaged … or missing. Isaiah 26:3 promises, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Is your life controlled by a foundational trust in Jesus … or something else? If that trust is there, is your mind “stayed” … fixed on him?


Falling for Jesus

Net falling
On Saturday, July 29, 2016, Luke Aikins jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. This was nothing new … he has done it over 18,000 times. This 25,000 foot plunge over the California desert varied in only one detail; this time, Luke wasn’t wearing a parachute. It wasn’t absent mindedness, this was a purposeful and calculated choice. Friends described Luke as the only man crazy enough to attempt this jump and cautious enough to survive.
 
This time he was not relying on his chute for a safe landing, but on a net. The net was 100-foot square and suspended between four cranes, 20 stories above the ground. In theory it would provide enough space to cushion his fall, without allowing him to bounce out of it. One test mannequin proved that he would not bounce out … the dummy went straight through. Luke showed little concern and said, “That’s why we practice.” As observed by his friends, Luke is not reckless. Other precautions were very obvious in the film of his descent. He had other jumpers who were with him for the first few minutes of the jump. They seemed to surround him as if to keep him on target. Gravity was the key player, but when Luke could finally visually see the target, he tucked his arms accelerating through the heavens straight toward the net. It all paid off … a perfectly safe landing!
 
There is something of our faith echoed in Luke’s jump. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus we are promised that our future is secure, but we cannot see our destination (Hebrews 11:1). We need guides to keep us on track (Hebrews 10:24-25). The inexorable gravity of heaven draws us, but we have no control over the time of our arrival (Romans 8:22-25). Luke diligently scanned the approaching earth for his target. We should do the same (2 Corinthians 4:18). Life passes quickly and our salvation approaches, let us, in faith, press straight for home (Hebrews 3:6; 3:14; 4:4; 12:1-2).
 


Answering in the Storm

 

stormy sky

I cannot explain my mood, but small discouragements, internal and external, rolled into a somber smoldering cloud of emotion. The storm blew up quickly and then hung over my heart … heavy, dull-gray, oppressive.
 
Late in the afternoon, I heard the distant timpani of thunder. A storm was brewing outside the confines of my heart. I scanned the horizon from our balcony, but no clouds looked as if they meant business. Suddenly, I realized that I desperately wanted it to storm … I wanted to be in the midst of the storm. I walked to the back of our building and there were the heavy boiling clouds of rain. Their deep laughter spoke to me from the distance, but they remained aloof, hugging the heights of Altos del Maria. “Lord,” I prayed, “send the storm my way.”
 
A meteorologist might tell me that the storm’s course was determined long before the prayer, but it seemed only moments after I breathed those words that the clouds broke loose of the hills and raced past our building out to sea. When the storm was past, so was my dark mood. Is it strange to find your soul soothed by forces that others fear? I cannot put words to all the spiritual therapy of the tempest, but I never hear thunder without humble thoughts of God. Most often when I’m in turmoil … humility is what my soul needs most.
 
Maybe I’m wired like Job who could not, by reason alone, cease from all his emotional striving. Peace and clarity came only after … “the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm.” Job 40:6
 
(Bonus)  For an interesting personal study use an online Bible search to query on words like: storm, thunder, wind, rain, etc. See how they are connected to God throughout the Bible. When you’re done, you may look at storms with new appreciation. Here’s a sample:
Praise the Lord from the earth … lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding.
Psalm 148:7


Cob or Spider Webs?

web

Right after purchasing my childhood home, I had to make a trek through its basement. Undisturbed for years, the descending stairs were tangled from tread to ceiling with cobwebs. I contemplated calling Stephen King … maybe the sight would inspire another novel.
 
I grabbed a long metal rod leaning on the corner of the top step and ventured down, twirling my rapier in front of me as I went. By the time I had traversed the fifty-foot length of the rambling cave, my wand looked as if I could light it as a torch.
 
I comforted myself with a little factoid from my youth. Only patterned webs are made by spiders. All of that other random stuff is just statically charged dust particles clinging together in strands. They’re not actual spider webs; they’re simply cobwebs. Very scientific sounding, very comforting … but totally bogus.
 
Webs are made by arachnids and some strand producing insects. Not all spiders produce patterned webs and even those that do often leave random strings while traveling to new feeding grounds. New strands are nearly invisible and by the time accumulated dust makes them visible, they have been abandoned by their builders. That’s why you seldom see a living spider in those random webs. Cobweb is just an archaic term meaning “spider web.” The Old English word for spider was … attercoppe : ator, poison + copp (later cob), head.
 
Ungodly thoughts and attitudes are like webs. If they’re not knocked down, they will eventually attract actions and become visible to all. That’s why the Bible has so much to say about what we do with our minds/hearts.
 
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45


Crumbling Hope

 
foundation
I read of the carnage in Nice, France (200 casualties, 80 deaths); victims of hate. I read about a progressive agenda using teen pregnancy to “educate” the Panamanian population about aberrant sexuality. I watch a race war heating up in the States … not between blacks and whites, but between black and blue. Vladimir Putin claims Europe is inevitably headed to WWIII. I feel the rising pressure to conform to a new set of world values … that are not Christian values.
 
Financially, relationally, morally and spiritually our world is crumbling. The towers and parapets of our great societies are tilting precariously, yawning fissures have opened in the supporting arches … because our foundations are gone. What hope does a pastor have? Is there any efficacy in my calling? Why keep talking to a world that would rather chose its opinions from the internet than listen to God’s Word?
 
During that particular pastoral-pity-party a sentence from the Psalms 11 stirred in my heart … “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” So … God’s Word agrees with my assessment of the world situation. NOT! In the Psalm, that sentence comes from the mouth of an enemy bent on discouraging a follower of God. The speech counsels taking flight because the evil people are out to get you. Sometimes I’m tempted to run off … not physically, but by simply slipping off into silence. Here’s a portion of Psalm 11. I’ve highlighted the words of worldly discouragement in blue. Notice that the Psalmist is arguing against them …
 

In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me:

“Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
 

A simple argument silences the voice of despair, “God is my hope; my circumstances may change, but he does not.”