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

Chasing Birds

Big Fish

I got invited “Deep Sea Fishing” and … well my mind conjured up something like this picture. I called to memory the beautifully plasticized Marlin that hung in my hometown grocery store. I could picture Daryl behind the meat counter reenacting “The Battle.” Some poor customer who had come in for fresh ground beef was getting old fish. Then I began imagining myself, center deck, lashed to the chair, the rod connecting me to some finned beast, twisted into a quivering horseshoe of tension. That dastardly denizen of the deep would not prevail … you need not have experience and skill to be a great fisherman!

Reality was somewhat different. I did catch a fish … the only fish. The Sierra must have been on the hook a while before the captain alerted us to pull in the line. He or she (it’s terribly hard to tell) did not put up much of a fight. Other than those ten second of excitement, reality was five hours of chasing gulls through choppy waters. The company was good, the day was beautiful, I loved being on the water … it just wasn’t what I’d expected. Expectations can be hard to manage.

I find among my fellow humans a general expectation, even a sense of entitlement, to receive great good. When the cosmos doesn’t deliver, we all feel horribly put upon. The Bible tells us a starkly different story. No person should expect good. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The wages of that sin is eternal spiritual death. (Romans 3:23 & 6:23)

It’s terribly disappointing to expect good and receive bad … or even mediocre. God’s Holy Word turns the tables and makes possible a life of joy and constant surprise. I should expect condemnation and death, but that’s not what I get. Romans 6:23 which delivers the bad news

“the wages of sin is death” concludes with the Good News, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here’s a word to help you speak truth to your expectations … Grace!


Bottles of Sovereign Protection

pills
While sorting through “one more box” in my childhood home, I came across a bottle of prescription drugs in my name and dated from 1985. It was an almost full bottle of Darvon and the prescription read, “One daily as needed for headaches.” I remember the headaches during my senior year of high school, but I don’t remember ever seeing the medicine.

Curiosity led me to a webpage describing this narcotic pain reliever. Emblazoned in red across the article was the warning “DISCONTINUED.” The FDA pulled the drug for causing severe, often fatal heart arrhythmia in thousands. The year before the doctor prescribed Darvon for my headaches, I had spent three days in the hospital with a dangerous case of arrhythmia. I wonder what would have happened if my mother had followed the prescription.

The year before, I had been sentenced to a lifetime prescription to regulate my arrhythmia. Because I believed that God had healed my heart condition, I told my parents I didn’t want that drug. Ten years later, that arrhythmia drug was pulled after claiming thousands of lives.

During grade school a doctor proscribed an anti-seizure medicine with a dosage of three per day. I had never actually suffered a seizure and my mother “had a feeling” about the medicine. She gave me half a tablet and that small dose left me almost comatose. What if she had given me the prescribed dosage?

When I was in the womb, my mother experienced severe morning sickness for which her doctor prescribed a drug later found to contribute to infant deaths and birth defects. My mother suffered through her discomfort without taking the medicine … she had a feeling.

Just a series of fortunate circumstances or God’s divine protection? I believe my birth and death and everything in between are in the hands of my loving and capable God.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16



Too Big to Land

airplane-1and2

Since “real” commercial airliners are too large to land in Wichita, Kansas, getting there required a jaunt on a jet so small that Sue hit her head on the overhead luggage compartment. It wasn’t a problem for me since I never actually stood up. I just stayed in a seated position and waddled off the plane.

Before boarding one such flight, the crew member at the gate actually announced “We’ve finally got the oxygen replaced, so we can begin boarding.” I thought, “Now that’s a small jet … the last passengers used up all the air.” Then my mind started musing on possible announcements for such a small aircraft:

  • “We’ll begin with boarding rows 1 through 2.”
  • “Today your captain’s flight instructor will be …”
  • “Please return your seatback by ½ inch to the full upright position.”
  • “Seatbelt extenders for your toddler can be procured from a flight attendant.
  • “This aircraft has three emergency exits. One is in the lavatory, so please exercise caution while flushing.”
  • “We’re passing through the cabin with the inflight snack. Please wait until everyone has been served before asking for a second peanut.”
In case you haven’t figured it out, this blog isn’t heading towards a deeply profound conclusion. I’m just saying that when life has you cramped, a little clean humor can go a long way towards ameliorating the situation. It doesn’t have to be funny to anyone but you. In fact, be sensitive to the fact it might not be received as humorous by frustrated and fatigued people. I do believe God created us with ability … even the need to laugh.
 

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” A warm smile and a relaxed demeanor might just be key to your Christian witness on a planeload full of “crushed spirits” … and bruised knees.



Wait for the Leaves

 
El Capitan pic
One of my favorite sites in Panama is the gigantic and stately tree ten minutes from Gorgona as you’re heading toward Panama City. We’ve named it “El Capitán de Capira.”
 

I haven’t nailed down the seasons here in Panama, but for that beautiful tree, December should be renamed DecemBare. One week it was full and green, the next it was completely unadorned. It seems to be the one tree in this country that thinks it’s winter. It also seems to spend about half the year naked and half royally robed in green. Last year, we actually mourned a bit thinking that it had died. Now that I know it’s just dormant, I can patiently wait for its beauty to return.

If you’re marriage seems bare and lifeless …instead of leaving, wait for leaves. Relationships can go through dormancy and even hard winters, but that doesn’t mean their vitality can’t return. An extensive study conducted by The Institute for American Values followed the relationships of a large sampling of couples for five years. Special attention was given to couples who reported being “very unhappy” with their relationship. At the end of five years, the pollsters checked back and discovered that the two-thirds of couples who had stayed together reported being “very satisfied.” Interestingly, 80% of those who divorced reported being no happier after ending their relationship. The couples who had remained married attributed their success to a myriad of factors, but the only global common denominator was that they “stayed.”

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Our faithful and loving God honors faith and love. Pray, work on communication skills, humbly give and forgive … and wait for leaves.


Trust God in the Thunder

 

fireworks

From our balcony, we gazed into the color infused, light punctuated hours of the fading year. We flew untethered through space as stars sizzled and crackled before our faces and brilliant quasars throbbed out their stunning light from the farther reaches of Coronado. Light glimmered off the bay an upside-down Milk Way brightening the night from below. Glowing paper orbs of orange and yellow floated lazily through the heavens like planets running their extraterrestrial course. The atmosphere thundered with the glorious spectacle of Panama’s New Year’s fireworks!
 
Fireworks have always been a joy for me. All the better when they’re free and abundant. Panama and our 19th floor condo have added the pleasure of seeing the display face to face as the shells burst at the height of our balcony. But los fuegos artificiales come is varying degrees of splendor. The higher shells are preceded by the sharp crack of the explosive charge that lifts them to their impressive apogee. Other shells whimper their “why bother” pop and live exactly up to that expectation, hardly making it off the ground. Ah … but occasionally there is a deep, hollow, whispering thump and then you know to look for something spectacular. It is the percussion of a heavy charge lifting a shell to lofty heights, shattering the darkness with ethereal wonder.
 

If fireworks had feelings, the most beautiful shells would be those most abused in delivery. A fuse ignites the powder at the bottom of the tube in which the shell is tightly packed. At ignition, the shell resists movement for just a millisecond and is subjected to extreme heat and pressure. The fiery trial has its way sending the shell flaming, hurtling toward the heavens. The scorching fire of the blast sets the soul of the projectile ablaze, eventually shattering its shell and giving full vent to its beauty.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.     James 1:2-4

 This year when trouble thunders, trust God to take you to new heights of faith and maturity.