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

Trophy Bag

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A cloudy sky hung low over the slate grey waters of the Pacific Ocean. The verdure of the shoreline glowed in the subdued atmosphere and fled by as our chartered Panga sped toward shore. It had been an enjoyable day, but long. Our lines were in the water, but it had been some time since our lures had any takers.
 
My sleepy absorption in the gorgeous Azuero coastline was suddenly interrupted by the distinctive “braazzing” of a spinning reel. The boat sprang to life as Arthur and Rick called for me to take the pole. Once I had the stout rod in hand the fight began. The struggle was fierce. Either it was fighter or it was three times larger than anything I’d caught that day. The captain looked at the flex of the pole and hollered, “You’ve got a real fish now!” I struggled to find the rhythm, “pull up … reel down.” Something large crested momentarily above the boat’s wake and voices called out the suspected species of the finned warrior. With every instant of battle, my anticipation mounted. What dastardly denizen of the deep was I fighting? The spinner was visible close behind the boat as I finally started to feel that I had gained the upper hand. The deck hand bent over the back of the boat obscuring my view. Finally, he turned revealing the glittering specimen. The result of my valiant struggle? A fifty-three-pound plastic bag of sea water.
 
Thankfully that wasn’t the only catch of the day. We took home four very tasty Yellow-fin Tuna. I also caught something else … my first sight of dolphins and whales! I’m so thankful for those experiences and the friendship of men like Rick and Arthur. Joking about my “trophy bag,” Rick quipped, “Things aren’t always what they seem.” So true … sometime we fight for things that we believe will satisfy, only to come up empty.
Isaiah 55:1-3
asks, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” The passage teaches that the one true need of man can be obtained without money. Men and women can have a relationship with their Creator simply by asking.


Toddler Christianity

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He broke free from his parents and headed straight for the ride. The toddler was already doing an awkward limbo under the turnstyle before his mother caught hold of him. In a few moments they returned and paid the fee. He made a beeline towards a little camouflaged jeep and beamed as the attendant buckled him in. Sue and I watched with amusement as the car swung around the track in our directions. Cherubic cheeks, a broad smile and crinkled eyes betrayed the simple joy of his experience. His parents were enjoying the moment also, so much so that they paid the girl at the booth for another round.
 
But … all good things must come to an end. The car halted and the father stepped forward to collect his child. The boy began to crawl toward the other side of the jeep. He clung to the safety bar and began to wail as his father gently pried him from the ride. The child’s face was transformed into a canvas of grief and loss as he gazed back at the object of his desires. I felt sad that such a moment of joy ended with pain. I wondered what his tiny mind would remember of the experience; joy or loss. Why do we come out of the womb programed to want … more?
 
Lord save us from toddler Christianity … teach us to experience contentment in the midst of abundance or privation, because our ultimate hope and joy are fixed on you.
 
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
(See also 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Habakkuk 3:17-18)


Zipping through traffice

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You can hear Rod Serling’s thin, wiry voice in the back of your head…“You’re travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of … torturously slow traffic; a journey into a cramped little world of bumpers and taillights. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, Lane Closure!”
 
I see the flashing arrow of doom and because I was raised to be conscientious and polite behind the wheel, I move over at an appropriate and safe distance. All drivers of a similar constitution do the same … leaving the closed lane empty for a space of some thousand meters. There is another class of drivers on the road; ones who have always suspected that they are more important and should be moved to the front of the line. They see the open lane as our tacit agreement with their inflated self-assessment. They speed gleefully ahead, careening in at the last possible moment. As we watch them, our ire rises and we try to turn our cars into an impenetrable wall of resistance against these pretenders to the throne. Both sides end up frustrated, perplexed, delayed and sometime with crumpled fenders.
 
It has been proven that if drivers stay two abreast and take turns at the bottleneck, traffic is safer and flows significantly faster. It’s called zippering. Zippering is safe, polite and would get us all where we’re going faster. Doing what’s best for the other guy would be best for us. The downfall of this technic is that it has to be observed by all or at least most of the drivers to work. I don’t know that I’ll ever see that lived out on our roadways. We can at least strive to live it out in the Body of Christ … the church.
 
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
(See also: 12:16; 13:8; 14:13; 15:17)


If It’s Not Broken … Replace It:

 

broken wheel

I noticed it first taking the curves in the mountains heading toward the city. The steering felt loose and the car seemed to float a little on right hand turns. It wasn’t terrible, just a little harder to keep in the lane. It only added a little exhilaration to our drive. 
 
As soon as two essentials lined up (time and money) I headed to the shop. The mechanic ran our SUV up on the lift and quickly identified several problems. The main issue was with the left hand linkage for the stabilizer bar assembly. It wasn’t broken … it wasn’t there! Almost every other bushing in the steering linkage was shot. I guess Panama is hard on your steering.
 
Have you ever seen a car with one of its wheels facing the wrong direction? That’s what we were headed for … and it could have resulted in worse than being stuck on the side of the road. We do drive an SUV …Suddenly Upside-down Vehicle. I thank God for the resources to take care of the problem.
 
Have you ever felt a little drift in your life? Like you’re having a harder time keeping life on track. It doesn’t feel bad at first, just a little fading over the center line. The rougher the terrain, the higher the speed, the more curves get thrown at you … the more dangerous life feels. Soon, your white-knuckling through situations as your pulse and BP rise. You feel as if your careening through life and just might lose control. Things could end up … upside-down.
 
Have you checked the stabilizer linkage for your life lately? It could be damaged … or missing. Isaiah 26:3 promises, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Is your life controlled by a foundational trust in Jesus … or something else? If that trust is there, is your mind “stayed” … fixed on him?


Falling for Jesus

Net falling
On Saturday, July 29, 2016, Luke Aikins jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. This was nothing new … he has done it over 18,000 times. This 25,000 foot plunge over the California desert varied in only one detail; this time, Luke wasn’t wearing a parachute. It wasn’t absent mindedness, this was a purposeful and calculated choice. Friends described Luke as the only man crazy enough to attempt this jump and cautious enough to survive.
 
This time he was not relying on his chute for a safe landing, but on a net. The net was 100-foot square and suspended between four cranes, 20 stories above the ground. In theory it would provide enough space to cushion his fall, without allowing him to bounce out of it. One test mannequin proved that he would not bounce out … the dummy went straight through. Luke showed little concern and said, “That’s why we practice.” As observed by his friends, Luke is not reckless. Other precautions were very obvious in the film of his descent. He had other jumpers who were with him for the first few minutes of the jump. They seemed to surround him as if to keep him on target. Gravity was the key player, but when Luke could finally visually see the target, he tucked his arms accelerating through the heavens straight toward the net. It all paid off … a perfectly safe landing!
 
There is something of our faith echoed in Luke’s jump. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus we are promised that our future is secure, but we cannot see our destination (Hebrews 11:1). We need guides to keep us on track (Hebrews 10:24-25). The inexorable gravity of heaven draws us, but we have no control over the time of our arrival (Romans 8:22-25). Luke diligently scanned the approaching earth for his target. We should do the same (2 Corinthians 4:18). Life passes quickly and our salvation approaches, let us, in faith, press straight for home (Hebrews 3:6; 3:14; 4:4; 12:1-2).