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

Above the Lines

Gazing out my office window, a ballet of chaos fills my lower vision. Thundering semis shutter, bellowing their disapproval at flea-like taxis. Herds of pedestrians snake between hulking, impatient SUVs. Toro Blancos snort in and out of their stall … gobbling up and disgorging their prey. Young legs climb to safety above the Interamericanna, while knees too old for stairs cross the pulsing vein of metal mortality. The stage below me presents a chaotic dance that somehow works.
If I lift my eyes even ten degrees, everything changes. Above the highlines rests a rugged and beautiful peace. Before combustion clambered along filled with its hurried and harried cargo, the scene looked very much the same. A caballero looking out from under his sombrero pintado loved the same mountains when this was a dusty path through the jungle. We have worried the hillsides with our wrinkled roads, but we have not aged them. A humble sort of quiescence floods my soul when I take time to lift my eyes. Mountains tell us the truth about man … and God. Mountains remind me that I am passing and God is not.
The setting sun runs the rim’s rugged shadow down over El Valle … reminding me that quickly I have passed half a century. The rains leave for their summer vacation and the verdant green becomes dusty brown. God’s Word is so accurate … “My days are like a lengthened shadow, and I wither away like grass.” Psalm 102:11
This Psalm, so replete with examples of human brevity, reminds us that our world is also passing. The hills seem eternal, but they are not. “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Psalm 102:25-27
Lifting my eyes above the lines reminds me of the timeless, changeless Creator who predated and outlasts all my earthly troubles. I say with another Psalmist, “I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1–2


The Rush of Life:

The buildout of our church’s new space has not been what I expected. Our contractors started early, showed up when they said they would, worked later than expected and are ahead of schedule. I’m super pleased with the job they’re doing!
The other thing that I didn’t expect was the onslaught of questions and options. The Elders and I have been thinking about this for a long time … but there are always a few things you didn’t anticipate. The tile has been our biggest issue to date. We knew that there were missing tiles and that it would be our responsibility to replace. We didn’t realize that almost all the tile in one unit was loose. The mall management supplied what spare tiles they could, but not nearly enough to do the job. Oh … and any extra of that tile in Panama was rounded up and sent to Siberia … or was it Mars. It is NOT available. We worked it out, but the quick rush of questions, the “need it now” urgency, reminded me of something from my childhood.
When I was just a little tike playing outside, I’d get thirsty. I must have been small, because I couldn’t turn on the faucet. Instead, I’d just suck on the garden hose until I got a mouthful of water. It probably wasn’t real heathy, but then neither were lead pipes, leaded paint or playing with mercury … all of which I survived. If it hadn’t been for all those toxins, I might be one of them-thar geniuses.
One time when I was trying to get a drink, one of my “helpful” older brothers was around the corner with the faucet on and the hose kinked. He removed the obstruction and I got waters in abundance! Hot plasticized hose water up your nose leaves a lasting memory.
That’s what this project reminds me of … not the “hot water up the nose” part, just the suddenly “getting more than you bargained for” part. We’ve been nursing along the idea of an expansion for over two years and now that it’s finally happening … it’s happening FAST! Sometimes that’s just the reality of life. It doesn’t stop the rush, but we can have peace in the midst of it, if we acknowledge Who is in control and allow Him to shepherd our soul …
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. Psalm 23:1-2
I like quiet waters much better.


New Old Discovery

Sliding doors are a popular way to conserve usable floor space. Besides that, the barndoor hardware look is very “in” right now. So everyone will sell them, right? Let’s just say, Sue and I spent two whole days this past week driving around Panama City trying to find that hardware. We hit every specialty door and hardware shop we could find. Then we visited the ones those stores recommended. It’s not that the hardware doesn’t exist in Panama … every store has it displayed … they just don’t sell it anymore. Maybe it’s already on the way “out.”
I had approached this trip with prayer. I truly believe that God takes interest in all our affairs and that He is pleased when we seek Him in all our ways. But mid-afternoon on unsuccessful day two, traffic was starting to make me feel like a demolition derby driver in a flag league. You don’t actually hit the other cars, you just see how close you can get. I was also starting to have self-inflicted whiplash from checking my blind spots. I was feeling discouraged and had resigned myself to not finding what I wanted.
We made one last stop at Casa de Materiales to check for replacement tiles. Yet another strike out on every item we thought they might have. Before heading home, we needed the facilities, so we walked next door to the Discovery Center. Even though I almost have their aisles memorized, we decided to take one last look. All we could find were the ‘high-quality’ door glides that fail under the weight of cardboard doors in mobile homes. We were literally headed out when Sue got all excited … “It’s them … it’s them!” I had so given up, that it didn’t even occur to me that she meant the glides we were looking for … the exact one’s I wanted, the whole kit! I guess that’s why it’s called the DISCOVERY CENTER!
Here’s another thing I keep rediscovering … when you’ve asked for God’s help, don’t give up. Maybe I needed to visit all those stores and then accidently find it where and when I wasn’t looking. All I know is that God doesn’t always answer how or when I’d like Him to, but He does answer. If I can learn it in the small things, there’s a better chance I’ll remember when the real storms come.
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

Spiritual Myopia:

Even though Roy faithfully attended church every Sunday … I can’t picture him dressed up. If I close my eyes, I see him in bib overalls. He was an electrician by trade, but a servant at heart. Before we left Illinois, I think he was at the church as much as I was. If you found a ladder stuck in some hole in the ceiling, that’s where Roy was … using his trade in retirement to support God’s work.
At a church camp work party, I was helping clean up around a new building. I had collected a handful of scrap electrical wire and saw an empty piece of conduit sticking through the wall. So, I folded the wires, shoved them in the pipe and forgot about it. At church a month later, I got slugged in the arm. It was Roy. He had worried over those wires, studied the plans and asked others at the job site about them. About the time Roy was totally perplexed, the wires fell out in his hand. I think he called me a “rotten stinker,” but somehow that cemented our friendship.
Roy’s glasses were unlike any I’d ever seen. They were trifocals with one band of magnification right across the top. I was going to ask about their purpose, but my own aging process explained. I was installing some overhead lighting and had just tightened a retaining screw down on the neutral wire. I let go, expecting the wire to hold the fixture in place … instead it went crashing to the floor. I had totally missed the hole and tightened the screw down on thin air. Then it dawned on me why Roy needed magnifiers at the top of his lenses. As an electrician, he had spent more time than most looking up.
Most of us focus on what’s close at hand and look a little into the future but remain quite myopic about what’s above us. The book of Revelation is a magnifier right across the top of my spiritual vision. It helps me look up and glimpse the glories that await those who trust in Christ. It reminds me that someday soon, Jesus will come again in glory. It reminds me, as Jesus said, to “stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28.


Driving as a Competitive Sport

Driving as a Competitive Sport: Games have never sparked much competitiveness in me. I was not driven to chase the ball. I would, however, engage at a high level when I believed my team was being treated unfairly. That still shows up in my driving.
Navigating the Interamericanna should be considered as an event in the next Summer Olympics. It requires many qualities associated with a sporting event; concentration, agility, honed reflexes, rapid response time and peripheral acuity. Those traits are all helpful and necessary in safely navigating in Panama. Competitiveness is the one sporting trait that isn’t helpful or productive … and I’ve got it.
Things begin peacefully. “This is not a race,” I remind myself. The internal coach tells me that the imprudence of others need not determine my speed. I observe the posted limits … roughly. I allow others to speed ahead and become police bait. I am tranquil.
Then, as I am passing a vehicle functioning with only three of it’s six cylinders, I see it. Not always, but quite often, it is a Toyota Highhander or a Volkswagen Runamok. Something about paying that much for a vehicle must make you believe you really are entitled. I digress … the point is, the driver of that gargantuan vehicle does not realize that it’s okay to take their foot off the gas and wait for a safe time to pass. It is much better, in their mind, to shoot the half-car-length gap between my vehicle and the basically stationary object in the other lane.
When I see this coming, something snaps. My team is about to be treated unfairly. A road-foul is about to be committed and since no referee is in sight, discipline falls to me. Perhaps there’s some Canadian in me … because a little part of me wants to check the offending vehicle into the sideboards. My more measured response? Close the gap … at all costs! Like Gandalf confronting the Balrog in Moria, my mind shouts, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” My accelerator synaptically follows suit.
I have invented several plausible justifications for my actions that you would all gladly adopt as your own … but I’m not here to justify, I’m here to confess. Confession is good for the soul … I hope it will be good for my driving. I don’t need to control the other driver … I need to control my anger directed at the other driver for his or her unsafe choices.
Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  James 1:20