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

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
 
 


The Law of Joy

The Law of Joy: Morning’s grey light had just begun to dawn when the sermon started. Every person old enough to understand was there. The scrolls were opened and read and explained … and read and explained. There were no complaints about the hard pews – the people were standing. Standing, attentive, engaged, eager to listen … to what some had never heard. It was high noon when Ezra the priest finally rolled up the scroll containing the law of Moses and by then the people were weeping. It was not because of the length of the sermon … it was because they recognized the depth of their sin. A generation of exiles were back in the promised land, being exposed anew to all that God expected and all that they had not done. Their tears were genuine tears of repentance.
 
What came next might surprise you. The leaders told the people to stop weeping and go have a party. They were to break out “choice foods and sweet drinks” and invite those less fortunate to party with them. Nehemiah, the governor said the most extraordinary thing …
 
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10
 
God, through His prophets, had so often begged his people to repent. Here’s one beautiful example where they did. Then, He told them to dry their eyes and go throw a party. This too, was part of the law. Far from being somber and melancholy, the relationship God sought with His people had built in times of pleasure seeking. Not lawless hedonism, but times of taking pleasure in God’s good gifts in God’s good presence (Deut. 12:7; 14:24–26). As odd as it may sound, joy was commanded.
 
Sorrow over sin is right and good … if it turns us back to God. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret …” 2 Corinthians 7:10. The sorrow of repentance is not meant to endure but to lead to Joy. That Joy is one of the greatest sources of strength in our relationship with God. Have you sinned? Turn back … and then rejoice! Rejoice in the God who forgives!
 
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” Romans 4:7-8
 
 
 


Seeing is becoming.

I’ve always been fascinated with the effects of light. I used to stare at brightly lit scenes, close my eyes and examine the negative images in my head. The detail can be incredible. Later in life when I got into photography, I noticed that a camera flash fired in a totally dark room created a vivid enough image on your retina to allow you to navigate safely through the space … even though you had been plunged back into utter darkness.
 
Last week near the end of the sermon, I said that gazing at the glory of Christ has transformative effects on your life. By gazing … I do not imagine an experience like John’s, but the encounters we have with Jesus as we seek to know Him in His Word. Long concentration on His attributes, or some flash of insight that the Holy Spirit brings; these stay with us even in our darkness. God blesses the reading of His Word and deepens our knowledge (cognitive and experiential) of who Jesus is. As we see Jesus truly, as His image and character are burnt into our hearts … we become more like Him and carry His image into a darkened world.
 
Again, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Pastor John Piper writes about this verse,
 
We become like what we treasure enough to spend time focusing on. Some say, “Seeing is believing.” This text says, “Seeing is becoming.” You become like what you behold. 1 John 3:2 says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now. It does not yet appear what we shall be. But we know that when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” To the degree that we can see Him now, we are changed into His image. When He comes to be seen in His full glory, our transformation will be completed. And it all happens because of seeing Him—gazing steadily at Him.
 
Start gazing!
 
 
 


Time

One-twelfth of 2018 is nearly gone! Just eleven more precious months. Approximately …
  • 345 darting days
  • 8,016 hurried hours
  • 480,960 molten minutes.
The numbers sound large … but they are not. In the impatient years of youth, my parents used to warn, “The years really fly by.” Because of the accompanying smiles and laughter, I thought they were joking. They were not!
 
In the twenty years of ministry at my former church I performed over 150 funerals and about as many weddings. You gain a certain perspective about the speed of life from being immersed in such events. At one wedding I was exclaiming about it making me feel old to perform a ceremony for a girl that I’d taught in Jr. High Bible study. Her mother turned with a comically perturbed expression and exclaimed, “Get over it! How do you think I feel?” She didn’t have to say another word. I could almost see the images flashing by behind her pupils … the natal unit, the first day of school, her daughter’s first crush, prom … all flying too quickly for belief.
 
Once I sat in bemused disbelief listening as family members of a deceased 90-year-old exclaimed, “We just didn’t see this coming.” In a way, I got it. I think that “irony of disbelief” was where my parents’ laughter came from. Our essence stands motionless a few feet from the tracks as years whistle by like an express train. We live in the balance between the feeling of eternal youth and relentless erosion. It is wise to be aware that life has a limited warrantee and that our expiration the date is in God’s hands.
 
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16
 
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12