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

Soul Armor – Part 2

     Do not be anxious about anything …   Philippians 4:6

Oh Please! Get Real! Are you serious? Just a few of the tamer responses I can imagine to this command from God’s word.
 How can I …
  • “not be anxious” (NIV) or
  • “not worry” (several other translations) or
  • “be careful for nothing” (KJV)?
Is that even humanly possible? Even more challenging, the command is, “do not worry about ANYTHING.” Granted, I worry about many inconsequential things … but surely there are some exceptions to this rule. Does God expect me to face financial ruin, my loved one’s fatal diagnosis, my child’s disintegrating life or my culture’s headlong spiral toward oblivion … without being anxious?
Consider an infant girl … surprised suddenly by the appearance of her father’s face from behind a blanket. Can you picture it? Her eyes blink rapidly, her chin tucks, her head trembles, her hands jerk … her first response is involuntary. But what comes next … does the child descend into a fit or wailing or burst into sweet laughter? Our first response to trials is no more voluntary. God understands; He wired us to respond to our surroundings and to act. Even the fear response is part of God’s good provision for preserving our lives.
The secret to understanding this command is in the second response. Built into the Greek phrase translated “do not be anxious” is the idea of prolonged apprehension. An English word that communicates this well would be “brooding.” In His kindness, our Creator bids us not carry our first response of shock, fear or anger … into brooding anxiousness. Do not continue in anxiousness, “but in everything” or “rather in all situations …”
Sorry to keep you in suspense … but tune in next week. 🙂


Soul Armor – Part 1

According to a report entitled, “The State of Mental Health in America –2017,” access to mental health care has increased, but so have mental health issues. Depression rates in youth continue to rise year after year. The report estimates that one in five U.S. citizens have some level of mental health condition. The study decries the lack of professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses) reporting that the least resourced state has an average of only one mental health professional per 1000 citizens. If we take that lowest rate of coverage against the U.S. population, that means there are at least 321,400 mental health professionals in the U.S. That outnumbers churches! It also outnumbers mental health professionals in every region of the world with the exclusion of Europe. With such abundant resources, why aren’t we in better mental shape?
That’s a complex question with a multifaceted answer far beyond the scope of one Pastor’s Corner. I believe the decline in mental health is rooted in what we’re ignoring. Psychology, if traced to its Greek roots (psyche—logia), literally means a “study of the soul.” But today’s dictionary definition reduces the field to brains and behaviors …“the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.” Let me humbly suggest that society will continue to grow more unstable as long as we marginalize or ignore the soul. We are more than heads and chemicals. We are beings created by God for a relationship with him. Modern Psychology in it’s materialistic bent cannot have the ultimate answer. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I unpack this passage that promises armor for our psyche,
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

Pyrotechnic Praise

The polychromatic spectacle filled my vision to utter periphery. No colors on the palette compare with variegations of fire against an inky black sky. But the experience was not all for the eyes; crackling reports, sizzles, bass notes perceived with both the tympani and the sternum … all this mixed with exclamation from the enraptured crowd. Tactile and olfactory: the rain of husks and ash, the smell of Chinese paper and gunpowder. Standing at ground-zero of a fireworks display is immersive … and joyful.
Yes, I said joyful. I found myself with a long lingering sense of delight. My wife kept laughing at me all evening, because the smile had not faded. I couldn’t explain it myself. I’ve always liked fireworks, but this was … joy. I found myself wondering as to the source of this feeling; lightness mixed with deep satisfaction. Why do we enJOY anything?
Doubtless someone could answer my question in a very scientific sounding way, explaining the stimulation of the optic nerve, the firing of synapsis and the pumping of endorphins. Another might turn to psychology, explaining the number of combined positives that it took to move me above average on the hedonic treadmill. Yet another to sociology, claiming my experience was rooted in the shared culture experience. There is no doubt some truth and worth in all such explanations but they are not The Truth.
The truth is … joy is the latent witness to our Creator. After testifying to God as the creator of all things, the Apostle Paul asserted, “In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
God’s kind provision for mankind … and the fact that they experience that provision with joy is an ongoing testimony to His existence and involvement in our lives. Paul said that to unbelievers. How great should the testimony of joy be for those who believe?  Next time you find yourself deeply enjoying some good thing, in joy remember your Creator and let your joy turn to praise!  (See also Psalm 65:8)

“I pledge allegiance to … what?”

Dad was gazing with obvious love and pride at our nation’s flag. I was staring at him with the same emotions. My mind can still look up at him through five-year-old eyes and beyond him the Stars and Stripes fluttering in the evening breeze. Sometimes I think my love of country is partially transferred love for my father and what he loved. Something caught rather than taught. It’s strange to reimagine the memory. It could have looked quite different.

History is simple when you’re a child, but Betsy Ross did not stitch the first U.S. flag. Our first official pennant as a newly founded nation was stitched together by soldiers at Fort Stanwix, New York on August 3rd, 1777. They gave up their shirts for the white stripes and stars; the officer’s wives gave up red flannel from their petticoats; and Captain Abraham Swartwout sacrificed his coat for the sea of blue. Congress paid Capt. Swartwout for his coat … our nation still has the receipt. The exact design of that flag is lost to history, but it probably resembled the Serapis Flag hastily constructed for John Paul Jones during the 1779 Battle of Flamborough Head. Similar designs were seriously considered for the U.S. flag.

If Prime Minister Pearson would have had his way, a strikingly different flag would be flying over Canada. It took the examination of almost 5,900 suggested designs and 308 speeches in the House of Commons to resolve the “Great Flag Debate.” Queen Elizabeth the Second proclaimed the current red and white maple leaf design on January 28, 1965. Had they chosen Pearson’s Pennant, the inaugural crowd still would have sung “O Canada” and “God Save the Queen.”
I am thankful to God for the land in which I was raised. The more I know of the world, the more humbled I am by the privilege of being raised with sufficient food, ample opportunity, abundant freedom and prevalent peace. But there is something healthy in realizing that our treasured symbols are changeable … ephemeral. So are the countries which they represent. Love your country, but fix your allegiance on something that cannot fail.
The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. Daniel 2:44

What Does It Say?

Hey … what do a Huey Helicopter, an AWACS Plane, an ancient grist mill and an alien spacecraft all have in common? The question sounds like the intro to a rotten joke. Well the answer is rotten, but it’s not funny. These are all suggestions for what the prophet Ezekiel saw when he was by the Kebar River in Babylon. Ezekiel 1:1-28
As a child, I heard a radio preacher explain that Ezekiel’s vision was of a Bell UH-1 (a Huey) which was in active service at the time in the Vietnam War. The blades and rotors explained the intersecting wheels. The fact that it could fly in any direction without turning was further proof. The four-faced living creature was obviously the helmeted pilot. And then there was the sound … he made a lot out of this verse,
“I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army.” Ezekiel 1:24
People who take such an approach all assume that Ezekiel saw something that he could not comprehend and strained at words to convey his vision. They’re right. Where they go wrong is not listening to the man who had the vision. Ezekiel did see something humanly incomprehensible. That’s why words “like” and “appearance” occur so often in his descriptions. What he saw had no direct point of reference to anything he had seen or experienced. He could only describe it in similes. BUT … he knew exactly what he was describing and he told us plainly, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown …” Ezekiel 1:28
A Huey Helicopter would elicit wild descriptions from someone born 600 years before Christ … but that’s not what Ezekiel saw. He saw a vision of the Glory of God and it was unfathomable. The “appearance of the likeness” was utterly inexplicable!  You wouldn’t have words either.
When you listen to someone teach Bible prophecy (or any part of the Bible) make sure what they’re reporting is internally consistent to the text. What does God’s Word say? Are they teaching that or their own ideas?