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

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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?


Tenacious … or Stubborn

Three weeks ago I extolled the tenacity of a robin that would not give up on its efforts to nest above our patio. We should be so persistent in our desire to draw close to God.

Same bird … new illustration: While I still admire the robin’s stick-to-itiveness … I’m starting to wonder about it’s intelligence. As I mentioned before, we’ve been removing the nest because the house is on the market and being shown. But really … I’ve knocked that nest down so many times I was beginning to feel like Atilla the Hun. The bird just wouldn’t give up.

It obviously had a nest blueprint in its birdbrain (no offense intended). Each attempt followed the same pattern. It arrived with several beak-loads of mud to form its foundation. Into this it cemented sturdy twigs and then laid in a lining of softer grass. If allowed to continue, it would have eventually feathered its own nest … literally. Down plucked from its body would have formed the final protective cushion for the eggs.

This bird had enough perception to distinguish between a blue garden hose and a snake. But it didn’t know when to move on. A brush completely crowding out the nesting location finally convinced it to relocate. There’s tenacious … and then there’s stubborn.

It’s scary how often in the Old Testament, God called His people stubborn. A few were tenacious in seeking His presence, but most were characterized by an obstinate bent toward evil. I’m just about into the book of Judges in my daily Bible reading and I know the cycle that’s coming; sin … painful consequences … repentance … deliverance … more sin. Judges 2:19 sums their character up like this, “They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” Lord help me to recognize and move away from sinful patterns. Lord help me only be stubborn in seeking your pleasure and presence.

Our Thoughts Captive

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5


Our thought lives are so important … that they aren’t supposed to be our own. The verse from Paul includes a chain of command. First, we are to master our thoughts … instead of being mastered by them. But we don’t take our thoughts captive to do our bidding. This isn’t the power of positive thinking. We’re simply taking prisoners for our Commander. Every thought is to be captured and examined against the standard of Christ and then subjugated to that standard. It is not gentle process, but a ruthless and radical one. Paul used the language of battle. The first part of the verse reads … “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” … we take captive every thought and make obedient to Christ.

From 2001 to 2006 the U.S. Army used the recruiting slogan … “An Army of One.” It was eventually replaced because it appeared to devalue teamwork … but there was a positive idea behind the motto. The byline of some posters read, “Smart, Strong and Prepared.” Thoroughly trained and well-equipped soldiers know their part in the conflict. Each man is an army within the army. Each must to go in well versed in the goals and objectives of central command.

The battlefield of the mind is a dangerous, potentially deadly conflict. Unexamined thought patterns lead to retreat, desertion and collateral damage. Enemy thoughts allowed into secure areas wreak havoc in our lives. The reason so many Christians fall prey to the devil is simple … they don’t know the objective and goals of their Commander. The only way we can realistically capture and subdue every thought to Christ … is if we know Christ’s will for our lives. This doesn’t happen magically or accidentally. Christ’s first battle plan, given to His closest lieutenants was, “go and make disciples of all nations, … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20 They carried out His orders so diligently, that 2000 years later we have Jesus’ commands in a neatly bound field manual. You can use it to renew your mind … or you can be conformed to the pattern of the world dominated by the enemy of our souls. Romans 12:2


Prayer Bombs

In July of 2007, I got to do something my father had dreamed and talked about his entire life; I attended AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin; one of the world’s premier airshows. The show boasted an unimaginable range of experimental, acrobatic and military aircraft. Many rare … and a few classified.

Sue and I had just finished a ride in an Bell H-13 helicopter just like the ones used in the T.V. series M.A.S.H. We were walking back toward the main strip where the flight displays were being staged. There above the crowds, we spotted a thin black line hanging at a 45-degree angle in the azure summer sky. The line didn’t seem to be moving but it was quickly lengthening. We were at a total loss as to what we were seeing. Suddenly a roar broke like thunder and the line blossomed into a gigantic jagged boomerang shape, banking sharply up into the heavens. The enormous B2 Stealth Bomber heading directly at us had almost been invisible until it turned. The aircraft was flying so fast that we didn’t hear it coming. Even sophisticated radar installations would have difficulty detecting it due to its ingenious shape and classified surface coatings. In other words, it would be on you with its payload before you knew it was coming.

How unlike prayer. We’re constantly telling each other, “I’m prayer for you” but we’re not. It’s not a lie … it’s good intentions combined with a busy life and a bad memory. Prayer unintentionally becomes show and noise with no payload. If you’ve ever promised prayer without delivering, I have a couple of suggestions.

First, if you hear of a grief or a need from a friend, ask if you can pray for them right then. I’ve never had anyone turn me down … even unbelievers. Don’t worry about elegance or instructing them, simply and honestly pray for their need. They will feel loved and you will be much more likely to remember to pray for them later.

Second, do some stealth praying. What would happen if we all picked a couple of people at church and in the community and prayed for them without broadcasting it? What if we established the pattern first, got it into our schedules and when we saw a need for encouragement, let them know? Here are some prayers from the Bible that you could begin to pray for others: John 17:17; 3 John 1:2; Ephesians 1:17-19; Ephesians 3:16-19



The warbling notes of its song make me think of home. It sounds like a North American Robin … except this bird rolls it’s “rrrrs.” It must be Panamanian. In the past weeks its song has been constant and repetitive; at five in the morning, at Noon, at dusk … close at hand and far away. Trill answering trill.

The other constant has been its nest building. On one beam of our veranda, a little brown bird is knitting together its casita of twigs and grass. Because the house we’re staying in is on the market, the gardener has knocked the nest down repeatedly. He barely has the mess swept up and the bird is back with another beak full of materials. The feathered builder is relentless and impossible to dissuade.

We are not the first to have our home become a nesting place. The temple in Jerusalem was evidently very popular. According to Psalm 84, “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.” It’s a mundane view of the temple that I hadn’t considered. The mighty ornamental building … with sparrows and swallows tucking their nests in around its massive stone and atop the bronze columns. I wonder if there was a division of junior Levites tasked with the endless job of nest removal.

You might be surprised to learn that the Psalmist mentions the nesting birds with a tinge of envy. In the time he was writing, to be at the temple was to be nearer the presence of God. He longed, like those little birds, to be always in the house of the Lord. He began his song, “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” He could think of nothing better than being close to his God … “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

I don’t have to go to a temple to have access to God. Jesus Christ died on the cross to give me open access to His presence. But I want the same heart as the writer of Psalm 84. When it comes to staying close to God, I want the tenacity of a nesting robin. I want a heart that relentlessly seeks God … a heart that cannot be dissuaded.