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

A Healthy Hush

Growing up in a home with strong roots from the Old Country had its humorous peculiarities. My mother and her dad repeatedly used a German phrase with us kids. We knew its basic meaning was “Hush!” When our voices had reached full throttle, it meant, “Tone it down!” When we were verbally bucking a chore or protesting some perceived injustice, it meant, “Stop your whining!”

Now here’s the deal … the literal (and most polite) translation of that phrase is “Be, still … I’ll slap you naked.” It sounds like an awful threat, a bullying intimidation tactic, but it wasn’t like that. I can still see the twinkle in my grandfather’s eye when he said it. It was a genuine warning … but a good-natured and preemptive one. If we listened and corrected course, we were not in trouble. It was a humorous way of saying, “Remember your place … and who’s in authority here.” My emotion connected to that memory is a feeling of security. I’m so thankful for adults in my life who knew their place and reminded me of mine. I innately sensed that their power to correct meant they also had power to protect.

There is a phrase in Psalm 46 that begins with the command “Be still.” You’ve probably seen it on a plaque, a poster or a meme. Do an image search for Psalm 46:10. You will predominantly find the verse scrawled in cursive across some tranquil nature scene or a picture of a person sitting tranquilly in a tranquil nature scene.

Psalm 46 is certainly about peace and security for the God’s people, but the force of “Be still!” has more in common with my grandfather’s tone. It means “cease your striving” … “stop your raging.” The command was given in the face of international upheaval and military threat against the city of Jerusalem. In that setting, God commands, “Be still and know that I am God.” This is about positional security … peace based in the comprehension of God’s right and power to rule. In fact, the preceding verses say,

Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire. Psalm 46:8-9

I’m glad I have a heavenly Father who does not abdicate His role, His authority … His place. I am quite content to have Him remind me of my place. I feel most secure when I know that … He is God. Then I can say with the Psalmist, “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:11

Questioning Orders

General Eisenhower and the top brass were arriving that afternoon, two days ahead of the scheduled base inspection. PFC Shippley was rushing through one of the last jobs that needed doing. He was painting the yellow parking space lines right outside of HQ. Moving towards the last spot (right next to the base flagpole) he tripped over one of the parking blocks. Yellow paint exploded from his toppled can blanketing the entire spot. Panicked, Shippley began futilely mopping at his gaff with a tiny rag. His heart almost stopped as he watched the paint spreading into every asphalt crevice. Suddenly a thundering voice interrupted his coronary. “No … no … no, we haven’t got time for that!” Then came the brilliant command, “Just paint it in!” The inspection went perfectly; no one gave another thought to a solid yellow parking space next to the flagpole.

Fifty years later, Colonel Shippley returned the base to speak at a company reunion. During the drive in, he was astounded that so little had changed since the 1940s. His driver swung the car to a halt in the spot indicated by an orderly. Colonel Shippley stepped out of his car (dramatic pause) into a solid yellow spot right next to the flagpole. No had ever given that spot another thought … literally. For fifty years no body questioned … they just kept refreshing the stain.

This is a longer than I normally quote for my Pastor’s Corner, but I invite you to read it thoughtfully,

Since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 1 Peter 4:1-5

The life of a Christ-follower is not intended to be one in which we “just keep refreshing the stain.” In fact, we are to be militant against sin, armed with the knowledge that Christ suffered and died to set us free. As Paul wrote, Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15  In the Army, it might be safer not to question orders … but when our sinful past or the old crowd try to bully us into continued disobedience, we look to Christ and refuse.

Developing Your Palate

I was whipping up a batch of Thai Vinaigrette dressing for today’s potluck. Though following a rough recipe, I wanted to add a signature ingredient … something to make it my own. I mixed “it” in and tasted my creation. Instantly, I knew I had added a too much because the flavor was recognizable. Used in right proportion, this ingredient can add a spicy, exotic flavor that the average person can not identify. They just would not suspect that you added “it.”
The Chinese restaurant I worked at was known for its outstanding eggrolls. People would order them by the plateful … make a meal of them. We mixed the ingredients in a food-grade tub the size of a scrub sink. It was enough filling to make 150 rolls. In went the Cabbage, beansprouts, salt, pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, the meat of choice … and seven pounds of “it.” In every batch we put seven pounds of our secret ingredient. People would ask about it … but most never guessed. In three years, I had maybe four people discern the flavor. One lady came up and said apologetically, “I’m sorry … I’m not sure that this is okay … because it taste like it was made with ______  ______.” Her discerning palate had identified the secret in our recipe.
Your taste palate can be trained and developed. If you don’t believe me, take a coffee tour. People get paid big bucks to aspirate coffee and identify an “essence of roasted grain with rich chocolate overtones.” Your palate for truth can be trained and developed. In the book of Job, Elihu said, “Hear my words, you wise men, and give ear to me, you who know; for the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. Let us choose what is right; let us know among ourselves what is good.” Job 34:2-4
Secret ingredients are fine … unless they’re harmful. Oh, how the ears and eyes of Christians must test truth these days. Most false teachers know enough not to make their lie obvious. They mix just a little in with large doses of God’s words, but over time, the effect is deadly to the soul. Like some poisons, you just don’t feel right for several meals … and then it’s too late. I’m not being mellow dramatic. Lies can be deadly to your faith.
Develop a taste for God’s Word from beginning to end. It will train your palate to distinguish truth from error. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103
P.S. Thank you for reading to the end … the secret ingredient was the same in my dressing and the eggrolls. Join us for lunch and ask me. Better yet, see if your palate can figure it out 😊


Last Monday, the men at The Good Cup had a great discussion about creating an atmosphere where others feel welcomed. That requires intentionality. Welcome involves energy and resistance against the gravity of self-absorption. We have to be aware and engaged in thinking about the needs of others. It brought this article to mind and I thought it might be worth reprinting.

When I was growing up, going out for track meant being tested in all events and competing in the areas of least incompetence. So, despite being “solidly” built and somewhat uncoordinated, I still had to run the hurdles. I had to run right alongside the kid whose legs started just below his armpits. It was hard to get up out of the dust and challenge another towering obstacle while others were floating across the finish line.

Getting into church should not look like a series of hurdles. No one among us would want it to be. CBC regularly gets praised as a friendly and welcoming church. But can I tell you a secret gained from 25 years of ministry? The same church can get high and low scores on its welcome depending on who you talk to. Much like your experience with physical activities … your experience of a new church can be somewhat tied to natural competencies. It’s not universally true, but people who score higher on the extravert level tend to report churches being friendly. They float across social barriers and integrate more quickly into new groups. But let’s consider how we might lower the hurdles for those who don’t fit that mold.

In a national survey on church attendance, first-time guests revealed obstacles they experienced to feeling welcome. Here are three worth examining:

  • People took all the aisle seats making it hard or awkward to get to a seat
  • People were gathered in cliques talking and laughing … we felt ignored
  • People covered seats around them with their stuff … signaling we weren’t welcomed to sit by them

These could be hurdles for any guest … but especially for one who already feels vulnerable or shy. How could we help?

  • If you need an isles seat, please feel free to take one. But watch for the guest – stand, smile, shake a hand motion to the seats beside you.
  • Please enjoy your friends … that’s part of what makes Sunday morning great. But keep an eye out for the new person … the new potential friend.
  • Become more Panamanian in your personal space requirement 🙂 . Place your items on the floor beneath your seat.


Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:4


(Reprinted from 02-14-2016)

Who Makes the Coffee?

Ask that question in our home and the answer would be “Me mostly.” If you were holding a cup of my brew and asked the question, I’d say, “Café Ruiz.” That’s the brand we normally buy.

This past week, Sue and I got to tour the Ruiz family farm in Boquete. Our guide, Carlos, opened our eyes to what it takes to get coffee from the bush to our cup. It went something like this … Carlos speaking rapidly in one breath … “We cultivate the plant, we hand pick the beans, we float-sort the beans, we husk the beans, we ferment the beans, we wash the beans, we dry the beans (twice), we age the beans, we mill the beans, we sort the beans again, we grade the beans, we bag the beans, we ship the beans.” Then chuckling, Carlos showed us the label on a bag of foreign-marketed coffee. It read, “Proudly Roasted in Italy.” If you had asked me who made that coffee, I would have responded, “The Italians … I suppose.” But all those steps from plant to green-bagged beans … happened in Panama. All the Italians did was burn it. And, of course, there is another person routinely left out of the coffee equation. Who imagined and created a plant that produces beans rich in flavor, caffeine and flavonoids? God makes the coffee!

How often in life we consider the last two steps of a process and place all the credit there. Museums don’t display brushes, tubes of paint, finely crafted easels and expertly stretched canvases. None of the producers of those products are known or remembered … only the painting and the artist are celebrated.

What if we change the question? What if we ask, “Who makes the church?” Far too often, the growth of a church gets attached to a few key leaders. We suffer from a serious celebrity mentality in the world today … even in the church. But when any community of believers grows and flourishes, there are a hundred intangibles that nobody sees; invitations, acts of kindness and hospitality, quiet service, one-on-one discipleship, empathy, generosity, prayer. And … when something emerges that’s more than a prosperous and morally upright country club, there’s another answer to the question. Who makes a true church? Jesus Christ!

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19–22

Lord Jesus, build your church!