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

The Third Law of Laddernity

Everyone celebrates the famous Albert Einstein, but how many people appreciate the genius of Alfie Epstein. Just this past Wednesday I was contemplating his Third Law of Laddernity. Epstein’s law describes a phenomenon with which every tradesman and handyman is well acquainted. The precocious intellect stated the law rather urbanely, using terms like hypotonus, angle of acclivity and bangnacity … but I’ll try to put the law in layman’s terms. The force of gravity on small objects increases exponentially with every step you take up a ladder.

You’re trying to attach a hanger bracket for a shade to the ceiling at an elevation of roughly 1,400 hundred feet, and suddenly the screw jerks sideways, is torn from your hand and hurtles to earth at exactly the farthest point from your ladder. It is likely that the screw (did I mention it’s your last one) will come to rest under a heavy object too close to the floor to reach under. You believe this was just clumsiness … but it was actually the Law of Laddernity. If you are working alone, the effect quadruples! If your wife is out of earshot … determine the power of the affect by taking the obtuse angle of a ladder, multiplied by the number of steps, times ten to the thirty-forth power. Some jobs just weren’t meant to be done alone.

A person could have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ in total isolation … but that wasn’t Plan A. The Christian life was not meant to be lived in alone. I easily could produce dozens of Bible verses that speak to God’s design for Christian community. Maybe just one will do for now.

Epstein and his law are fictitious … but this law isn’t:

Carry each other’s burdens and it this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

 
 


Anti-Social Media

I have a confession … I tend to seek and then agree with opinions that match what I already believe. Judging from what I witness on network news and social media, I don’t think I’m unusual.

There’s a website that puts out five-minute op-ed videos that I really enjoy watching. The videos are conservative, small-government, pro-life, anti-socialistic and multicultural in a good sense. They often have people espousing views that you wouldn’t expect them to hold based on their ethnicity. One recent video featured a Bedouin from the Gaza Strip, who joined the Israeli Defense Force for love of his country. I didn’t expect that. I know we shouldn’t prejudge what a person will think based on their origin or ethnicity, but most of us do that too.

So the videos sometimes challenge me … but for the most part I like them because they have a reasonable, well-balanced, logical worldview … just like me (sarcasm, tongue in cheek). I just found a ten-minute video that says watching those videos, “will make you dumber.” The videos that make me feel affirmed, boil another guys blood. If we have a penchant for seeking, wallowing in and passing on only those things that line up with the way we already think, what hope do we have of objectively assessing any idea? Add to this the phenomena being called “Fake News” and it makes me despair of really knowing anything. What can be done?

Start reading your Bible more than you watch your favorite news source. But here’s a crucial proviso: you must pray that God will fill you with the meaning of His Word … and protect you against filling His Word with your meaning. I believe God’s Word is objective truth, but I need the Holy Spirit to guard me against subjecting His Word to my desires and will. Jon Wiziarde’s personal culture (we all have one) must bend the knee to the culture of Jesus Christ.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

 



The Contrast of Grace:

Ugliness and beauty are most themselves in each other’s company. On the backside of Cinnamon Pass, Colorado, headed for Silverton, Sue and I drove through a valley that had been ravaged by mining. It’s treeless, red mud slopes were littered with the rusting tools of someone’s fortune. The miners left it looking like the surface of Mars. Just around a bend was another valley so verdantly pristine that my eyes felt like a direct connection to my Creator. Man’s worst and God’s best in the space of half an hour.

I felt that way in my Bible reading this week. I slogged through the heart-sickening end of the Book of Judges. My Bible innocuously entitled the story, “The Levite and His Concubine.” It’s a drama so dark and bloody you couldn’t even show it on network television. God’s brutal honesty about the depravity of man and the consequences of evil. It’s ugly.

Just on the other side of that dark valley, you come to the Book of Ruth. Ruth isn’t beautiful all at once … like passing between those valleys in Colorado, there is a transition from the scarred to the sacred. The book begins with disobedience, tragic consequences and a woman so bereft she changed her name to “Bitter.” But in four short chapters, the full beauty of God’s providential love unfolds.

Noble, wealthy Boaz puts his reputation and fortune on the line to rebuild the name of a disobedient dead man. Boaz is a vivid Old Testament picture of Christ. What impressed me with this reading was how Boaz treated his destitute relatives. The Law of Moses required that he leave the edges of his field uncut and to allow the poor to pick up what the harvesters missed (Leviticus 23:22). Boaz went beyond law and showed grace to Ruth. 

Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” Ruth 2:15-16

Ruth went home after a day in the field with so much grain that Naomi instantly knew that some field owner had gone beyond the expected and deep into grace. Though I sometimes forget, that is the way my Father treated me in Christ … the gleanings, plus the full heads of grain and no rebuke. My worst, answered and abundantly covered by His Best. (See Romans 8:32)

 



Remodel?

When Sue and I have access to cable TV we invariably end up watching something like Property Brothers. I don’t know if home buyers are as moronic as they appear, or if they’re just made out to look that way by the producers.

The Property Brothers are experts at finding fixer uppers and turning them into dream homes. But the couples that appear on the show are always saying things like, “I don’t know if this can be done.” “Look what bad shape this is in.” “Don’t the famous expert brothers who have done this a thousand times have a clue how hard it will be?” They trust neither the brother’s expertise or experience.

Have they never watched the show? If they have, then they make another error … they don’t learn from the mistakes of past participants. In the last episode we watched, the couple decided to waive the home inspection to sweeten their offer to the sellers. The brothers warned them of the risks, but they persisted. Then in horror they exclaimed, “What? The wiring isn’t up to code in this one-hundred and thirty-year-old mansion?” Completely rewiring the house meant they had to give up some other part of their dream … and it took them over budget.

If the Bible were a reality show, people would make the same two mistakes. They would not trust The Expert on mankind, the Creator. Despite the fact there have been multiple episodes showing that He is capable and faithful of carrying out His word, they would wonder … “Can He really pull off the things that He claims He can do?”

They would also … as I have made … the mistake of not learning from the episodes of those who’ve gone before. Referring to the stories in the Old Testament, Paul says, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.”  1 Corinthians 10:11  The stories were recorded that we might learn to trust our Creator and not repeat the mistakes of those who did not.

When we neglect God’s Word or fail to take its lessons to heart … it ends up putting us over budget; Over budget in terms our stress levels, over budget in terms of our relationships … over budget spiritually.
 
 


Facebook Religion

I saw it again … the meme that says, “ ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ is written in the Bible 365 times … one for each day of the year!” I hate to tell you this, but it just isn’t so. A simple Bible search reveals that the word “afraid” only appears 205 time in the entire Bible. It does depend which version of the Bible you search, but none will give you that tidy number … 365. None of them will even get close.
 
The command “Do not be afraid” occurs 70 time in the NIV, with other translations showing similar results. Throw in “Do not fear,” and “Do not worry” you will find another 26 references. So, my grand total was 96 commands not to be afraid afeard or worried. I hate to be pedantic, but even out of the 96, I’m pretty sure they don’t all apply to me. The angel Gabriel saying it to Mary does not have a direct application to my life. Context matters!
 
I did check my findings on the web … and many people have arrived at the same conclusion. The most generous estimate I found was 119 references, but that person’s search included about a dozen synonyms for “fear.” Not all of those reference were commands. I found another article claiming, “there are nearly 400 verses telling the faithful not to have fear.” That’s possible (and would require more research) but the meme said … “Do Not Be Afraid” appears 365 times. I thought maybe there was still hope for the saying when I found a Facebook user who promised she would share a “Do Not Be Afraid” post each day of the year … her posts stopped, without explanation, at day 132.
 

So, what’s my point? First, I think Christians, of all people, should be careful with the facts … especially when it comes to God’s Word. An encouraging meme that isn’t true, will only encourage those who don’t study the Bible for themselves. Second, does the number really matter? If it only appears 70 times, does that mean I’m free to worry the other 295 days of the year? How many times does God have to say something before we believe Him?