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

Flatten the Curve

Okay … they weren’t talking about me. I’ve always had a famine-resistant body and this whole Covid thing has not helped. Less movement, more comfort-food cravings, and a general sense of fatigue … all things widely reported during the lockdowns. “Widely” reported … oops maybe a poor choice of words. 

The fatigue thing is real. There’s been more days than usual when I’ve just had to muscle through the necessary activities. Days when I told Sue “I’m tired of sitting still and to tired not to.” It made me feel a little better when I came across a host of articles discussing “Quarantine Fatigue.” Evidently, coping with long-term uncertainty and disrupted life patterns is mentally exhausting. So, maybe we can cut ourselves a little bit of slack. But somethings got to give and … I’m hoping it won’t be my buttons.

The main cause for weight gain is no mystery. You are taking in more calories than you are burning. Either reduce in-take or expend more energy. We all know that we should be exercising. That’s why the global sports equipment market is currently valued at approximately 126-billion USD. You might want to invest in the market rather than the equipment. You know there’s going to be a spike from people trying to shed their Covid-curves. If you still want to buy a treadmill, I can personally recommend a model that is perfect for … drying sweaters.

Our physical bodies need nourishment … and exercise. If our lifestyle is a mix of carbs, calories and couch … it’s going to show. I wonder if there’s a correlation spiritually. Scripture routinely compares God’s Word to spiritual food. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. A Christian that neglects the Word of God will be anemic and weak in faith.  “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17. I don’t think it’s possible to over emphasize the importance of imbibing God’s Word. You can’t spiritually overeat … unless you do nothing with what you take in. According to James, if you listen to the word, but don’t do what it says, it is a type of self-deception. James 1:22 If you’re feeling spiritually weighted down and lethargic, maybe it’s time to act on the truth you’ve received. God’s Word is intended to fuel your life and change the world.

Jesus said, “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The person our Master described as “foolish” was not one who failed to listen to his teachings … but one who listened and then failed to “put them into practice.” Matthew 7:24–27
 
 


Footings:

I showed Sue a picture of the Hebron offshore oil platform and her immediate response was, “That’s obviously photoshopped.” That was my first reaction also. It looks made up … it looks impossible. In reality, it’s a genuine Canadian construction marvel. Reading the stats only adds to disbelief.

Picture an American football field (including the endzones) balanced atop a 15-story building. That would be an impressive accomplishment, but the comparison pales to the reality. It’s not a football field precariously perched up there, it’s a small city. The production platform weighs 65,000 metric tons and towers 370 feet (113m) above the ocean’s surface. I’ll only geek-out with a few more relevant statistics. The platform resides 220 miles off the shores of Newfoundland in the brutal North Atlantic. It must withstand extremes including 100 mph winds, 80 foot waves, ice floats and small icebergs.

How can such a top-heavy structure stand, let alone withstand that kind of beating? It’s all about the footings. The structure below the waterline is massive and goes right down to the bedrock ocean floor. Huge silos surround and buttress the center mast … What’s below the water is almost ten times heavier than what you see (600,000 metric tons). The sight that dazzles and puzzles our eyes is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The platform stands and withstands because of its hidden mass.

Now let me ask you … do you know peace? I don’t mean are you out of harms way … living a quiet life. Can you count on maintaining a calm inner confidence in face of this world’s current turmoil or its prescient demise? Will you stand if the wind, waves and biting ice of adversity advance on your little piece of ocean? Times like these reveal the footings of our souls. Let me leave you with some Scriptures that have been speaking to me on the topic of peaceful resilience …

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength …’” Isaiah 30:15

“The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

If you’re not experiencing God’s peace that rises above understanding … and the storms of life … check your footings.
 
 
 


Redeeming the Time

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15–17

I had to memorize that at some point while growing up and still hear it in the King James … “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Two-thousand years ago, Paul said, “the days are evil.” Paul didn’t counsel his readers to obsess about the fact, but rather told them to focus their time on understanding and living out God’s will. He wanted them to redeem the time.

Here’s a suggestion about how you might redeem some time. Here’s one place you could reallocate time to spend getting to know God’s will better … so that you can live a life worthy of your calling in Christ Jesus.

Go onto your Facebook and click those three little bars. Scroll down to “Settings & Privacy.” You may have to expand this menu. Find the bar labeled “Your time on Facebook” and tap into that. You’re going to find a bar graph showing how much time you’ve spent on Facebook each day for the past week. In the text at the top, it will tell you your daily average. I’m pretty sure that number is only for the device you’re on … so between your phone, PC or tablet the total might be greater.

I sit down and start scrolling and it kind of anesthetizes my brain and swallows up time. Not only does it consume that limited and valuable resource but there’s something disturbing about the emotional impact of going from post to post. I might go from reading a Bible verse … to suddenly hearing a protester shouting the F-word … to something funny … to something tragic … to a post that’s simply banal. I can go from angry, to amused, to discouraged, to sympathetic in a matter of minutes. I have to wonder if it’s wiring my brain to be poly-polar. Then if I’m watching videos, I find myself losing patience with the topic and scrolling to the next and then the next. So, what’s that doing to my ability to concentrate, process and think deeply?

Redeem that time and devote … at least some of it to God’s word. I believe concentrating on longer portions of Scripture can actually train your brain to reason and follow a logical argument. Your Bible app will read you the entire book of Philippians in just 15 minutes. If you do that you will hear this encouragement …

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8–9

If you want peace in evil days … redeem some time from social media and go find God and His will in His Word!
 
 


REALITY CHECK:

We are facing forces and movements in our world that are completely beyond our influence. And yet our focus on such matters borders on addiction. You may not want to hear this … but sharing videos on Facebook will not stop the onslaught of globalization or the push toward a one-world government. It makes us feel like we’re doing something … but we’re not.  Christians know that it’s coming … God’s Word says so. So, what do I do … when there’s nothing to be done?

God’s people were stuck between what appeared to be two unconquerable foes; before them the impassable Red Sea, behind them the rapidly approaching Egyptian army. How did they respond? They started talking smack about leadership. “They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’” Exodus 14:11-12 It’s hard to blame them really … the text also says that when they saw the Egyptians, they were “terrified.”

What should they have done … considering there was nothing to be done? Moses spells it out … “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14

There are four elements to Moses’ instruction, and they were all issued as commands:

“Fear not” Cease dreading! The only way that happens is when we remember Who’s really in charge. It only happens when faith replaces fear. The Israelites were focused on their earthly leadership and had forgotten Who was leading them and what He had already accomplished on their behalf.

“Stand firm” The command here is literally “remain.” It can be translated to resist, stand against, and stand together. I wonder if “stand together” really was the point. Exodus 12:37 tells us that 600,000 men left Egypt and 13:18 tells us they “went up armed for battle.” Egypt was coming with all its chariots … but what could Pharaoh have really done against such an army? When God’s people panic and it becomes every man for himself, there is no strength.

“You will see the salvation of the Lord” It doesn’t come across in English translations, but this too was a command; ‘Look to see the Lord’s deliverance.’ God’s people were to be watching for, eagerly expecting God’s rescue. The Hebrew word here is Yeshua. Those of us who have met our Deliver should be eagerly looking for what He will do on our behalf!

“You have only to be silent” Again … a command … be silent! We are so worried about being heard these days … but what if there was more power in a certain kind of silence? (Isaiah 30:15)

Pharaoh is approaching, what will he see … a screaming, scrambling mayhem melting away down the seashore … or one body standing shoulder to shoulder, looking to God in tranquil silence? Which looks like faith? Which will tell the enemy we believe in our God?
 
 


Checking the Original

In our Covid confinement, Sue has taken to watching YouTube videos of the Russian painter Viktor Yushkevich. You should check it out … it’s way more interesting than watching paint dry. Oh … uh … anyway … it really is fascinating. What I love is how the paintings develop from dark and abstract to light-infused and intricately detailed. Shadow and confusion are swept away by tiny masterful strokes of light and color. Shallowness and chaos are transformed to depth and beauty.

While watching Viktor paint, you will see him constantly checking his original. Sometimes he’s duplicating one of his older works. Sometimes he’s referencing a photograph. His skill is not based in imagination, but in being able to transfer and translate what he sees onto the canvas.

I remember twice when I had to do a still-life in art class. Both times there was a problem; the still-life wasn’t still. Working over multiple class periods in a room that kept getting rearranged with props that kept getting jostled made it impossible to accurately transfer the scene onto the canvas. After a while I gave up looking at the original. The end product was “impressionistic” to say the least.

The Christian life develops from shallowness and chaos to depth and beauty. It is the Spirit who will finish the work … but He allows us to have a hand on the brush. Our part is to constantly gaze back at the original and transfer what we see onto the canvas of our life. If life jostles us to the point that we stop regularly referencing God’s Word or fail to apply what we learn … our life will trend towards shallowness and chaos. But little bits of light faithfully transferred to the canvas of our life will eventually create a work of depth and beauty. We will become a portrait of our Savior.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22–25

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18