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

Growing Like a Weed

Its large glossy leaves are deep green and deeply veined. They spread off in all directions from a singular reddish-brown stalk creating deep shade. When one of these plants first appeared in our yard, I thought it looked quite attractive. Our landlord however, pointed it out and said emphatically, “Whenever you see those cut them down.” He was right, Morinda Citrifolia is a beautiful … weed. It’s more commonly known in these parts as a Noni tree. It’s widely eaten in the east and some make great health claims for its fruit, but I don’t expect it has a lot of western fans. Consider this description from Wikipedia, “The fresh fruit’s strong, vomit-like odor has made it a famine food in most regions.”  In fact, two of its other names, both referring to its odor are “cheese fruit” and “vomit fruit.”

Now every plant has its purpose, but there are several reasons I put this one in the weed category:

  • It volunteers a little too readily not to be suspect
  • It will set up shop in neighborhoods where other plants wouldn’t
  • It pops up quicker than Dollar General stores in the South.

Every week, I can find several new Noni plants around the yard. They grow out of a crack, the side of a dead stump, in shallow soil … almost anywhere. And here’s the real sign of a weed … they grow incredibly fast. If left alone they are taller than me in a month. There’s a reason we have a saying, “He’s growing like a weed.” Weeds grow in shallow and depleted soil, without cultivation and more rapidly than other plants in the same area. So, Noni is on my weed list.

Why is it that the things we want in our yards need encouragement and cultivation, while those plants we count as nuisances are almost impossible to eradicate? Why is that true for our hearts … for our souls … for our character? As I think through my life almost everything productive and pleasant is there because of training, discipline and perseverance. What grows easily, what comes naturally are qualities that choke out more noble intentions. At onset, these life weeds appear relaxing, entertaining, beautiful, but they tend ultimately toward disorder, disillusionment and disharmony. Don’t settle for what naturally sprouts from a shallow and depleted heart. Cultivate a life of useful fruit for Christ and the world. Listen to the encouragement of Paul,

Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9–12
 
 
 


Lay It Down

The project is 98% done. Regular sheetrock was never intended for outdoor use. So that’s gone and there’s a gleaming white, water-resistant PVC ceiling on the porch. Had I ever installed the product before? No, but what’s that got to do with trying? Thankfully, it came out surprisingly good … but the process reminded me that I am prone to a bad work habit.

Replacing a ceiling requires a ladder and certain set of tools. You can either find a way to keep what you need nearby … or make a hundred extra trips up and down those rungs. So, picture me perched atop the ladder, squeezing a cordless drill between my knees, a pencil over one ear, a sharpie over the other, a box-cutter and a tape measure in one hand, a carpenter’s square and a piece of ceiling material in the other. Add to that montage of other accessories precariously balanced on top of the ladder’s last rung. The bad habit I revisited? Hanging on to too many tools.

I don’t see it coming. I am just trying to be efficient. But suddenly, I’m holding on to so many things I can’t work … or my labor is seriously impaired. Sometimes it even gets dangerous, like one job when I snatched to rescue my falling drill and almost punched the wood bit all the way through the palm of my hand…that left a scar.

When Sue’s around, she sees it happening before I do. She is a helpful wife and a great assistant. She’ll ask, “Would you like me to hold that?” “Would you like to set something down?” Here is the odd and embarrassing truth. Although I realize she’s right … I feel an instant surge of obstinacy. “NO! You’re talking to one of the greatest circus performers of all time. Juggling fifteen sharp objects while balancing on a 3 by 12-inch platform high above the earth … that’s what I was born for baby!” It just gets ridiculous. I might as well make the trips or take the help when it’s offered … because sooner or later, gravity wins. Let’s take a break from the story for some sanity …

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28–30

It may not be physical tools, but most of us are carrying too much. It is exhausting, unproductive … and sometimes downright dangerous. When the God of the universe says, “Can I hold that for you?” Swallow your pride, trust His promises and … lay it down!

 
 


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!