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

Where’s Your Center?

2015-10-11 Pastors CornerI’m currently reading the classic adventure “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne. One thing that I appreciate about these older novels is that men do hard things without the lure of romance or sex. A group of men, venture into the unknown, withstanding extreme physical and mental hardship with courage, integrity and raw pluck. These books go on chapter after chapter … perhaps their entirety without a kiss or flirting or even a woman present. The only romance in the book mentioned above is that the narrator, Henry, often calls to mind his love for his fiancé Gretchen and it gives him strength.

But if Hollywood touches any of these classics, a love interest has to be introduced into the movie (sometimes at sacrifice of the plot). Gretchen would be at Henry’s sides battling sea serpents in the bowels of the earth. Henry and Hans would have to fight over Gretchen, and in the end Gretchen would have to save the ignorant brutes from their own testosterone fueled stupidity. The truth is that both men and women have done hard and valiant things throughout history. Sometimes separate … and sometimes together. The American West would not have been settled without stalwart women. My complaint is not the presence of women in adventure movies … it’s the implication that the driving force of history has been romance and sex.

The thing I don’t like about classic adventures is that they can go on chapter after chapter with no reference to faith in God. In fact, many view God as a person that real men put away in their youth and only return to in the direst times of extremity. This is an accurate portrayal of many men, but certainly not of all. While historians and Hollywood have tried to obscure the fact, Christian faith has been not only a companion, but the driving force in many world changing adventures. If anyone knows of a classic adventure novel where faith in Jesus plays a central role, please recommend it to me. In the meantime, I pray that Jesus is the central figure in all your adventures! Proverbs 3:5-6



Victors at Umpqua Community College

2015-10-04 Pastor's Corner

My heart aches for family and friends of the professor and eight students killed this past Thursday. It also hurts for those whose sense of safety has been forever shattered. I don’t wish to be opportunistic, but I do want to say something that many won’t. I want to share the truth about losing your life for Christ.

Multiple reports stated that the shooter asked victims if they were Christians. Those who said “yes” were executed, those who said “no” or refused to answer were only wounded. Amazingly … several news reports I looked at said the motive for the shootings was “unclear.” It seems pretty clear to me.

As I pondered the deaths of these students, I realized that the first student that was asked, “Are you a Christian?” probably had a good idea what was coming. Those asked subsequently had no doubt. Still, they said “Yes.” They consciously chose to identify with Jesus Christ knowing they would be killed.

The shooter left a document in which he reportedly talked about being “embraced by the devil” and “welcomed into hell.” We should not be surprised that such atrocities would carry the fingerprints of Satan. Jesus said, “he was a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44) Satan was behind this mass murderer, but he was not, nor will he be the victor. Those slain were his victims … but they did not lose, nor were they beaten.

Jesus guaranteed, “whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35) Revelation offers us further insight on our fallen brothers and sisters in Oregon:

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. (Rev. 2:10)

They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Rev. 12:11)



Pressure Washer in Paradise

2015-09-27 Pastors Corner

The azure bay glinted with a million flames of late afternoon sun. A ring of island sentinels stood unmoved against the pounding white surf calming the waters within their protection. Playful breezes from the sea cooled my sun-heated skin and teased the emerald palms above my head. Gazing into the fathomless crystalline heavens … sharing the wordless affection of my wife and best friend. And oh, the sweet sweet melody of … a 208cc Briggs & Stratton, single stroke engine whipping its hydraulic-pistoned companion into a 3200 psi frenzy!

Sue and I had retreated to a little resort in Boca Chica which in my opinion is one of the nicest places I’ve been on earth. Having just studied Heaven for several months of Wednesdays, I don’t use the word ‘paradise’ lightly, but this might be as close as I’ve come. Except for the workman at the neighboring resort power-washing the steps down to the dock … all 4000 of them! His maniacal machine roared and frothed hour after hour, a rather large and noisy fly in our beautiful ointment.

It really didn’t bother me as much as it could have. It was a reminder that something is coming that is better than the best our world has to offer. There is a place called Paradise prepared for those who have placed their faith in Jesus (Luke 23:43 and Revelation 2:7). We’re only given enough information about it to whet our appetites, but two things are very clear. First, it is a place without mixture. There will be no fly in the ointment of Heaven (Revelation 21:4); it will be wholly good. Second, its grandest pleasure will not be about the place, but the Person (Revelation 21:3, 22-23). I will be in the presence of my God and Savior and the raucous whine of sin will be forever banished from my heart.



The Master Artist

2015-09-20 Norman Rockwell

His paintings and illustrations gifted countless hours of entertainment to my youth. Recently I had the pleasure of perusing a book of his art. It was the same kind of giant coffee table edition that I could hardly manage to hold when I was a child. He was a master of color, texture and detail, who painted with humor and a thoughtful compassion for life. I got lost in it again.

I remember being regarded with vein aloofness by a girl in high school and thinking she belonged in a Rockwell. I was glad that I’d witnessed that piece of living many times in his paintings. Somehow it made the coldness seem less personal. It was just a way that girls could be. I don’t know how he managed it, but Rockwell could also express the noble emotions, like dedication, honor and resolve. Gazing up in respect at my father while he gazed respectfully at the raising of our nation’s flag … it was the kind of moment Rockwell so skillfully mastered. His greatest art was freezing the human face at moments when it reflected the human soul.

There is another artful volume that has captivated, not just moments, but my life. It is one grand canvas, covered by the Master Artist through a company of illustrators. Each under-artist communicates with the texture and words appropriate to his personality, but it is always the Master’s intent and story that is infallibly revealed. It’s stunning portrayals of what is really in the soul of man, draws my gaze again and again. We can be fooled by the face, but this grand Masterwork never errors in its assessment of the heart. It gives me the full spectrum of why someone might seem aloof … from pride to pain.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21 (see also 2 Timothy 3:16)



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.