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

Dreams of Redemption

Occasionally, I read a devotional that seems especially fitting to our times and world situation. I want to share such a one today. In my lifetime, I have never known the U.S. and Canada more polarized religiously and politically. The war of words in the media is often bitter and mocking. The feeling that I get, even from many Christians, is that they have written their opponents off as hopeless causes. I can certainly go there in my thinking but this devotional by John D. Barry challenged me to be praying for those who seem most opposed to the Gospel of Christ.

I’ve known people who seemed beyond saving—who seemed to have gone too far down the wrong path to ever turn to the right one. But in the Bible we see that this is not the case. God is capable of turning anyone’s heart. One of the most shocking examples is Nebuchadnezzar.
 
In a decree to all the nations he rules (and perhaps other nations as well), Nebuchadnezzar remarks: “It is pleasing to me to recount the signs and wonders that the Most High God worked for me. How great are his signs and wonders, how strong is his kingdom, an everlasting kingdom; and his sovereignty is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:2–3). He then goes on to recount a dream that Yahweh planted in his mind.
 
Before Nebuchadnezzar experiences redemption, he tastes humiliation and endures great trials (Daniel 4:28–33). But Yahweh does not intend to merely humble the king—He intends to make him a righteous man who can be used for His good purposes. We don’t know whether Nebuchadnezzar ever fully accepts Yahweh as his God and turns from his evil practices, but it does seem that he experiences repentance: “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and then my reason returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and the one who lives forever I praised and I honored” (Daniel 4:34). In return, God restores him.
 
We can never predict how God will use people, and at times we may be shocked by whom He uses. Some people we think are lost may end up being found after all. Let’s dream of redemption for those who need it most.

 

What people in your life need redemption? For whom are you praying? Have you lost hope about anyone God may still redeem?

 
 


Off by Degrees

Wednesday and Friday of this week a great team of people showed up to help with preparations for using our new entrance. Emptying out the back of the sanctuary to make way for more seating revealed how badly the rear wall needed painting.

Finding no old paint cans for reference, Sue and I headed off to the store with a clear vision of the color in our heads. We perused the color swaths and agreed on one we were sure was “very close … although a bit warmer.”

Friday, I was summoned from my office to give and opinion. The freshly painted wall glowed with a stomach upsetting sort of orangish glow. Trying to stay positive, I said, “Well it looks better than before.” One of the crew responded, “Eh … not so much.” The paint color was “Totally Tan” but they were calling it “Fake Tan” and “Spray on Tan.” I felt bad about wasted money and volunteer time, but it was clear that even the paint crew thought the color needed to go. When someone proclaimed that the color was “Trump Tan” … I finally agreed.

I’ve done a lot of painting in my life and know that it’s hard to predict the final effect based on a two-inch color swatch. Still, I was amazed that our memories had led us so far from the desired color. Saturday morning, I was rummaging through some painting supplies and found an old roller pan. It was filled with a thick layer of our original color. I peeled out a large swath from which we were able to get a match. THANK YOU … to those who came out to help us cover “Intolerably Tan.”

When it comes to major wrong turns in life, they seldom happen overnight. The shift in a person’s behavior might seem sudden, but it was more likely a long time coming. The change took place by shades. When their new color finally hit the public wall, people were shocked … sometimes appalled by the contrast. That’s why we all need to keep going back to some immovable point. God’s Word lived and taught in God’s community is that point.

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:12–13
 
 


Spam … Delete

There are days when I feel like I don’t know much, but here are a few things I do know …

·        My student loans are not going to default

·        My car warrantee is not about to expire … nor is it eligible for renewal

·        My window order is not on hold pending important information

·        My criminal records are not about to be made public

·        My AC/plumbing/ductwork/dishwasher repairs are not warrantied

·        I did not miss your call about a lucrative job offer

·        I was not just chosen for the Who’s Who of International Businessmen.

IT’S ALL SPAM … and I’m not talking about the almost edible canned meat. These are ploys marketers have tried to get me to respond to their offers. Why don’t I bite? Because of what I know. My knowledge of my affairs allows me to hit delete with impunity. But … these spam attacks must be awful for people who don’t know the status of their loans, just repaired their AC … or have a hidden past.

That last one is perhaps the cruelest. If you’ve walked away from a rough but hidden past … you might panic. Even if our memories contained nothing to convict us, the more susceptible among us might wonder, “Is there something I don’t know about?” Not only do I have no memories of illegal activity, the FBI assured the Panamanian government (and me) that I have no criminal record. Its wonderfully freeing to know what not to believe based on an authoritative source.

In our spiritual life, Satan spams us all the time. “You’re alone in the universe,” he mutters. At that particular time, I do feel lonely. His attack and my disposition combined leave me reeling with uncertainty. I can’t trust my feeling in this matter, I must turn to an authoritative source. I hear my Savior saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Matthew 28:20  The truth of God’s Word exposes my thoughts of abandonment as Satanic Spam … DELETE!
 
“You are a hopeless sinner … you are beyond redemption!” Ah, but what did my friend Paul write, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15–16  Sense of hopelessness regarding sin? Spam … DELETE!
 


Putting the “Holy” Back in Holidays

First of all … Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends. The Holidays are upon us! Thanksgiving and then Christmas!

This time of year, I still picture Fall blazing yellow, orange and red … just before raking mountains of damp slimy leaves beneath the skeletal remains of once beautiful trees. Sorry, just trying to not to get too nostalgic.

With only subtle cues that the seasons are changing, time slips by unnoticed. So … Thanksgiving and Christmas pounce on me unsuspecting again this year. I wonder if the debate is still raging in the States about the public use of “Merry Christmas?” I think it humorous that secularist want to wish us “Happy Holidays” instead. They have obviously overlooked the meaning of the second word. According to Wikipedia (and several other online sources),

        The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”). The word originally referred only to special religious days.”

So, if you’re going to be up North for the holidays, I say run with it and put the Holy back in the Holidays. Can you imagine the conversations?

Cashier: “Happy Holidays!” You: “Thank you for remembering … this is a holy time. All this food is for our family feast celebrating how good God has been to us this year!”

Cashier: “Happy Holidays!” You: They are holy days aren’t they. What could be more holy than commemorating God coming to earth to live among us and save us from our sins. That is worth celebrating!”

Wherever you are for these Holy Days … try to work your faith into conversations. Maybe we’re the ones that forgot how holy the holidays are. Maybe we lost “Merry Christmas” because we were too shy in speaking about Christ.

 
Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory … Luke 9:26
 


What Difference Does It Make?

The past three Sundays have taken us on a tour of Eternity. But what difference does our hope of heaven really make? For that I turn to my friend, mentor and former pastor, Dr. Ken Langley. During his 2016 series on Revelation, when he got to Revelation 21 and 22, he preached a sermon answering that question.

He began his message by wondering aloud why the Church in our day talks so little of Heaven. He says, Other generations of the Church viewed earth as heaven’s womb … viewed earth as dress rehearsal for heaven. Heaven is what gave earth and its life meaning, purpose and a sense of direction. Maybe these days we’re just too enamored with the world to care much about the subject. What difference does it make?” He answers the question with four reasons:

Heaven Comforts Those Who Grieve (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Heaven Crowns Faithful Service: The Bible speaks several times of crowns received by those who believe in and faithfully serve Christ … a Crown of Life (James 1:12), a Crown of Rejoicing (Isaiah 35:10 and 51:11), a Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), a Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) and a Victor’s Crown (2 Timothy 2:5 and Revelation 2:10). Although Matthew 25:31-40 does not use the language of crown, faithful servants are greeted by the King of Kings with these words of reward and welcome, “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

Pastor Ken points out that earlier in the same passage, Jesus seems to imply that “the reward for good work is more work.” While many picture Eternity as an endless vacation filled with our best-loved hobbies, the Bible paints a more rewarding picture. Revelation speaks of reigning with Christ and serving in the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:25-26 includes these intriguing words about the New Jerusalem, “the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it … The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.”  Here’s the third “C” from Pastor Ken’s outline …Heaven Continues Our Best Work. Pastor Ken, who is one of the most diligent workers I know said, “I don’t want to be a couch potato or a cloud potato … give me some worthy work!”

The final reason Heaven matters is a hope I return to often … Heaven Compensates for Suffering in this Life. For this, Pastor Ken turned to Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (See also, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17).

P.S. Pastor Ken has always been better at alliterations than me: Here are four more reasons from his outline that he didn’t take time to expound: Heaven Captivates the Christian Mind; Heaven Conforms Us to the Image of Christ; Heaven Confirms Choices Made in this World; Heaven Concludes Life’s Journey.