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

Recabites

2015-09-13 Pastors Corner

Sue and I played Cribbage the other night on a custom walnut board we brought from the States. I was trying to remember where we’d purchased the board, when I found this cartoonish picture an old gentleman on the bottom of the box. It was encircled by these words, “Masters of Wood Since 1883.” Suddenly I remembered our trip to the Svoboda Clock Shop in Wisconsin. We stopped to check out their iconic 36 foot-tall Grandfather’s clock. We purchased the small game board because it was all we could afford. Although my internet search turned up some changes in the business, they’re still going and family owned. That’s impressive isn’t it … a family doing the same thing for over 132 years?

What about a family following the instructions of one man for over 300 years? That’s the story of the Recabites found in Jeremiah 35. You’ll have to read it yourself if you want all the details, but let me give you the broad sweeps.

If looked at historically, the story seems misplaced. When viewed thematically however, its placement is strategic. The story is grouped according to a faithfulness/unfaithfulness theme: Chapter 33 tells about God’s unconditional covenant faithfulness, Chapter 34 reveals the gross falseness of King Zedekiah and Judah’s officials in their pledge to release the Hebrew slaves, Chapter 35 narrates the story of the faithful Recabite clan and Chapter 36 contrast it with the story of King Jehoiakim’s total disregard for God’s Word.

The Recabites are God’s living object lesson of how the Jews should have responded to his Words. God plainly states the contrast in Jeremiah 35:14.

The Recabites The Jews
Faithfully obeyed the instructions of their dead ancestor Chronically ignored the instructions of their living God and Creator
Their ancestor’s instructions had been giving once God had given his repeatedly to no avail
Displayed obedience for centuries Marked by disobedience for centuries
Their faithfulness would be rewarded Their unfaithfulness would be punished

Thanks to Pastor Mike Witzend for the material in this table.



Dangerous Circumstances

2015-09-06 Pastors Corner

Our building is in the process of being painted. This week the hanging scaffolding passed our balcony. I was impressed by the way the two workmen lightheartedly bantered, joked and even sang as they went about their work. Their relaxed demeanor seemed extraordinary considering they were dangling 220 feet above the ground by two, 3/8 inch steel cables. The men who clean the windows of the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) don’t even use a platform. They simply strap on rappelling gear and swing a leg over into the dizzying void. In a video about their work I saw the same phenomena I’d witnessed from my balcony; relaxed chitchat, casual repartee between men dangling from threads 160 stories above terra firma. How can people do anything at that height but desperately grasp the rope and cry out for Jesus?!? How can they become comfortable in their peril?

They have learned to trust their rope. It was not that way the first time they climbed onto the platform or over the railing. They had to do that by relying on someone else’s testimony. But now they have personal experience that tells them their equipment will not let them down (literally). It takes the men who clean the Khalifa’s windows three months from start to finish … and then they start again. Almost every day of the year they trust their life to the rope. Eventually they look as comfortable on their thread as I might in my favorite chair.

If you meet a Christian who seems at peace in the face of trying or even dangerous circumstances … that didn’t just happen. It came with listening to God’s word (Romans 10:17) and then acting on what they heard (James 1:22). It came from repeatedly testing the rope of God’s faithfulness and finding it sound.



Don’t Waste Your Life

2015-08-30 Pastors Corner

Father, some cubby in your kingdom

To guard a switch, to light a darkened hall

Some task simple, some task small

 

But let me guard with holy diligence

The station that you put me in

Sleeping not, nor slipping off to sin

 

And when the wanderer stumbles to my path

Let me ready, steady, waiting be

To throw switch, to turn the key

 

No greater prize for life’s significance

But at the proper time and place

To show the light that leads to Grace

 

Reckon not wealth by World’s math

I’ll leave no heap of gold behind

But pass heaven’s gates and find

 

The souls for whom I did my little task

All my reward, this sweet taste

To hear, “Your life was not a waste.”

 

 My reflection on these words from Daniel 12:2-3 …

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.



The Family Perspective

2015-08-23 Pastor's Corner

It’s been cool having our family visit from the States. We were able to see Panama through four fresh sets of eyes. Those eyes discovered with wonder some of the same scenes and peculiarities that intrigued us. They discovered some things we’d never seen. But what interested me the most was hearing them discover things to which we’ve grown accustomed.

Sue and I have been blessed to see a fair amount of the world. One of the hazards of that privilege is that some things become routine that shouldn’t. I witnessed something anew through my brother-in-law’s experience. Several times, Andy commented on the disparity between how he lives and what he owns compared with the average Panamanian. Not that I’ve grown totally accustomed to the divide, but traveling in the Philippines, South Africa, Peru and Panama has definitely taken the edge off. I realized that I’ve started to see as normal houses that hardly looked livable to my relatives. It was good to hear comments again like …

  • They live with so little … why do I need all that stuff?
  • So many things we think are necessities … really aren’t.
  • I wonder what they think of how we live.
  • They seem pretty content even though they don’t have anything.

We not only need to hear thoughts such as these, we need to keep them close. We need to be thankful for the opportunities and privileges that we’ve had and others have not. At some point we need to realize that more is just more and may, in fact, become a stumbling block to our spiritual life. We need to live with an open hand and remember the warning of our Savior …

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” For the rest of the story read Luke 12:16-21



It’s Not in the Title

2015-08-16 Pastor's Corner

For twenty years, Sue and I lived in a community where a Master’s degree was almost as common as a high school diploma. I worked on a staff with three people with their Doctorates. Sue worked at Trinity International University among some of the most prominent theologians in Evangelicalism. How does that impact you? It can lead to a predisposition to stake your value as a human on titles and degrees. The drive to improve yourself is healthy and productive. Achieving excellence in your field is a noble ambition. But when your achievements elevate you in your mind to another class … you’re headed for dangerous territory in your relationship with God and fellow Christians.

Panama has made me more aware of my own tendency toward this type of judgment. I drive passed an old day-laborer trudging along, sun burnt and labor-bent and my mind classifies him and his contribution to the world as less significant than my own. God may not agree … and I’m certain He’s not pleased by the impulse.

It’s possible that the day-laborer has done a better job at pursuing God’s priorities. The Prophet Micah penned these words to Israel’s elite,

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.   Micah 6:8

None of these requirements are impingent upon higher education or “significant” employment. The man who has made his life with a machete or a shovel may have been more just, mercy loving and perhaps had an easier run at humility before his maker. Or … he could have been a drunken, abusive, womanizer. The point? We too easily absorb value systems that don’t square with God’s Word. I have been in the presence of unschooled men whose knowledge of and relationship with God made me feel a spiritual dullard. For an example of a man who got his priorities straight read Philippians 3.