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

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?

LED to the Light

I brought lightbulbs from the U.S. in my suitcase. They’re constructed of almost unbreakable plastic and boast a life of over 10,000 hours. They produce pleasant warm-white light in ample quantities, with little heat and a 1000 hour operating cost of about 96 cents. They are a tremendous improvement over the fragile glass, energy-sucking, heat-belching incandescent lights of my youth. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are revolutionizing the way we do light.
In 1962, Nick Holonyak, Jr. produced the first LED in the visible-light spectrum. It was not the first LED, that was produced in 1927. The reason we haven’t heard much about that inventor is because the light was in the infrared spectrum invisible to the human eye. At that time, there was no practicable use for an infrared LED, but we now we use it every time we pick up a TV remote.
It took eighty years getting from that first LED to a reliable, consumer friendly lightbulb. Holonyak may have been the first to glimpse the future. He said when his LED glowed red that he “saw the light.” He saw that there would be a revolution in how we light our world.
Consider these two Biblical references to light …
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23
There is an ultimate revolution coming in how the world is lit. I know it must come or we will be plunged into irreparable and utter darkness. I don’t know how far in the future it is, but I’ve seen the first installment and I long for it’s coming. I long for His Advent. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

The Punchline

My memories are a bit grainy, but so were the commercials. The company used pirates, gangsters, the French Foreign Legion, a death row inmate and even an amorous walrus to ask one iconic question. The ad I remember most clearly opened in the old west with a scene in silhouette; beneath a spreading tree, a man perched atop a horse, hands tied, a noose around his neck. The camera cut in close revealing a silver star glinting on his chest. The sheriff’s lynching party was made up of black-hatted, scruffy outlaws. The gang leader leaned in, sneering and asked … “Is that too tight?” The sheriff stoically answered, “Nope.” “Any last words?” snarled the gloating miscreant, “Nope,” replied the brave lawman. Finally, the smirking outlaw asked the punchline question we all came to anticipate, “Then whata you want on your Tombstone?” Cheesy commercials (pun intended) … but a great question. One day, those who know you best may be called upon to epitomize your life in one succinct statement. What will they say? How will you be remembered?
More importantly, what will be God’s pronouncement over your life? Men and women can be fooled, but the Bible confronts us with these sobering word, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.Hebrews 4:13
The Bible has a surprising number of epitaphs. They were not chiseled in stone over graves, they were laid down by the Holy Spirit in God’s Word: His eternal testimony over the lives of men and women. Some epitaphs drip with the despair of divergent lives devoid of God (1 Kings 26:16; 2 Timothy 4:10; Acts 24:25; Acts 26:28). Other epitaphs honor highly those who hounded God’s steps to the gates of heaven (Nehemiah 7:2; Daniel 6:4-5; Acts 9:36; James 2:23; Revelation 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:7-8). What do you want on your tombstone … and with God’s help what are you going to do about it?