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

The Unchained Word

 
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Did you grow up in a church that had a large Bible prominently displayed at the front? The history behind that tradition is fascinating and challenging. For centuries the Word of God was chained within the Latin language and purposefully kept from the common man because, it was argued, he would misinterpret its meaning. Men like Wycliffe, Huss, Tyndale and Luther were all pioneers in a revolt to end the sacerdotal stranglehold in which the organized church held Scripture.
 

One decisive blows in this battle was dealt when Thomas Cromwell, general secretary for Henry VIII and Vicar General of the Church of England issued orders that all the clergy under his leadership provide a large Bible,

” and the same set up in some convenient place within the said church that ye have care of, whereas your parishioners may most commodiously resort to the same and read it.” (1538)

The result? Every church in England eventually had a large Bible at the front which the common folk were free to read. People stood in line for hours for their chance to read God’s Word with their own eyes. But, the Word of God was still chained … literally. Because of the scarcity and value of these manuscripts (many of them still hand-copied) they were bond to the church altars with chains.

Things have certainly changed! Most of us know experientially that the Bible is more available to more people than at any other time in history. There are still places in the world where God’s Word is “chained” but most of us do not have that excuse. Let me close with question: What if any “chain” is keeping you from reading God’s Word?


The ‘In’ Crowd

Tight-PhatTHE “IN CROWD” Throughout my years of pastoring, I’ve had periodic stints of involvement with youth ministry. During one tour of duty, I noticed a couple of words being used in unfamiliar ways. I heard a girl tell a guy that his shirt was “Tight!” This would have mortified me as teenager, but he seemed quite pleased. Then I heard the kids calling all sorts of things “Fat!” Movies were “fat” … outfits were “fat” … snacks were “fat” … they even called me “fat.” The oddest part was that I could tell it was meant as a compliment. So, I did some research and discovered that in their mid-90s vernacular “Tight” meant stylish, cool, having everything together. “Phat” (pronounced fat) similarly meant excellent or first-rate. So … theoretically, “You’re Phat and your clothes are tight!” would be a great compliment; that’s when I realized I wasn’t cut out for long term youth ministry.

One of the things that I admire in a good youth pastor is their ability to connect with the youth culture without becoming part of it. There are few things as sad as a 40-year-old youth pastor who tries to dress and act like a teenager. There’s no long-term productivity in embracing folly to reach little fools (Proverbs 22:15). The point of youth ministry is to use God’s word to lead them to wisdom. Most kids who are really seeking Christ long to see what a mature Christian looks like.

That’s the challenge for Christians in every age … connecting with the culture without becoming like it. Doing all that we can to connect while staying true to who we are in Christ. Genuine followers of Jesus will never be part of the “IN CROWD.” We are called to be different from the world for the sake of the world (1 Peter 2:12). In fact, our model and our warning against thinking that serving God could be popular is Christ himself (Matthew 24:9; John 15:8; John 16:33; Hebrews 13:13-14).



The Good Old Days

Good Ole Days croppedNostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.~ Doug Larson

Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.~ Franklin Pierce Adams

In every age “the good old days” were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them.~ Brooks Atkinson

In my opinion those quotes not only adhere to a realistic view of history, they line up with Biblical wisdom. Ecclesiastes warns,“Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” (Eccl 7:10). Even amateur students of history find themselves nodding along with another bit of Solomon’s wisdom … “There is nothing new under the sun!”

Of course we have devices and conveniences that would spellbind Solomon, but even technologically we are not smarter or more advanced. If you could dissect the reality of your smartphone, you would find more than circuitry. You would find an amalgamation of miniscule advances accrued over centuries … over millennia.

Besides, Solomon didn’t have technology in mind. He meant there is nothing new to be discovered in the wisdom and folly of man. We decry the events of the day, but each age has had its share of depravity, sensuality, heinousness, mockery, genocide and religious fanaticism. There is nothing new under the sun. The good old days … weren’t.

The Bible is not totally against fond reflection on the past. Many verses counsel a sanctified memory, one that dwells on God’s past goodness and faithfulness (Ps. 111:4; Ps. 143:5; 1 Chron. 16:12). The purpose is not living in the past, but gaining strength and hope for today and tomorrow. Overindulged nostalgia related to this world sours us on the present. It makes us fear the future by telling us the lie that “Things have never been this bad before.” The main thrust that I find in God’s Word is living this day as close to our God as possible (Isa. 55:6-7).


Happy 1st of July

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HAPPY 1st of July!

I know I’m a little early, but let me be the first to wish our Canadian friends Happy … Dominion … Fête du Canada … Canada Day! I’ve been the typical provincial U.S. citizen who didn’t know what was happening in the world much beyond his own country. I lived all this time without realizing that Canada celebrated it’s founding every July and they do it with Fireworks! I thought the U.S. invented celebrating with fireworks … or was that the Chinese? Oh well … I knew I liked our northern neighbor!

Our two countries’ histories are interconnected, similar and different. The U.S. constitutionalized, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, while Canada talks about “Peace, order and good government.” U.S. independence came earlier (1776) and through a decisive revolution. Canada became a Dominion within the British Realm in 1867 and gained increasing autonomy from England. The last vestiges of British governmental influence slipped into history with the signing of the Constitution Act in 1982.

When I first learned about Canada’s gradual progress toward independence, I thought of the progressive nature of our walk of faith. Salvation is revolution and freedom gained by measures. Unlike the amicable relationship both the U.S and Canada maintain with Great Britain, sin is an enemy whose rule the Christian wants totally destroyed. That happened at the cross … that is happening because of the cross.
 
Romans 6 states that when Christ died and rose from the dead, he decisively defeated sin, so that we should no longer be slave to it (vs. 6). But in the same chapter, Paul makes it clear that we must daily choose to live in the freedom of that victory (vv. 11-13). Oh how I long for my Spiritual 1982. Either Christ will call me home or appear to take me home and then … all vestiges of sin’s rule will fall away.


Pray for the Persecuted Church

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The illustration below is hard to wrap your mind around. I’ve read the statistics. I’ve seen pictures of those wounded and slaughtered simply for believing in Jesus. I’ve read the heart-wrenching testimonies of unimaginable suffering. I’ve preached about the persecuted church worldwide. But I’ve noticed something about myself; that which is hard to fathom … is easy to forget.
 
I don’t think it’s callousness on my part … at least I hope not. A number of factors combined keep the plight of the persecuted church at edges of my mind. Maybe you can identify.
  • A compassionate heart makes it difficult to witness (even at a distance) their suffering.
  • I am frustrated by the disparity between two realities; my desire and my inability to help.
  • Their suffering reminds me that I could be called on to suffer for my faith in Christ.
  • It is largely ignored in the scheme of world news.

So even though my brothers and sisters in the faith suffer daily and by the thousands … I remember it seldom and reflect deeply on it even less. As I prepared to preach on prayer, one phrase brought them to mind; “always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18. It reminded me of the prayer requests I’ve heard from those who are being persecuted.

> “Pray for us!”
> “Pray that we don’t deny Jesus.”
> “Pray for our courage.”
> “Pray for the salvation of our persecutors.”
 
The one thing I can do … I should purpose to do. I should fight the forces that would drive their suffering from my mind. I should remember and I should pray. That’s what the author of Hebrews said, Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3
 

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Here are some resources to help:

www.persecution.com/pray

www.cru.org/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/prayer/pray-for-persecuted-church

www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/pray