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

Breaking Free

Breaking Free pic

The documentary featured people who were radically changing their appearances. One man was in the process of having his entire body tattooed with reptilian scales. He gazed at the camera through contacts that made his eyes dark reflective slits. His tongue was forked due to “cosmetic” surgery. A dentist had filed his teeth into fangs. A woman on the show had implants beneath her upper lip giving her a cat-like maw. A plastic surgeon was adding nylon whiskers to her self-deception. Chameleon and cat both called the process “evolution.”

Before and after pictures were heartbreaking. Some father’s beautiful little girl, turned sideshow lioness. A handsome young man, now a hideous lisping reptile. I felt a deep sense of sadness and sympathy for the subjects of the documentary. I remember wondering, “How much to do you have to hate yourself to so eradicate your identity?”

This is society untethered from its creator and his good purposes. No Reasoning Source for our universe means no ultimate purpose or direction. Man separated from his creator; man void of an owner’s manual may be reinterpreted according to any whim. Who dare define me? Why two sexes? Why not eight?

Near the end of the Nineteenth Century The poet William Henley penned these famous lines, 

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

The poem is a rejection of all but natural realities. These verses spurn the Biblical teachings of Salvation and Punishment. But Henley’s mastery and self-determination go out the philosophical window if he is wrong about one question … “Is there a God?” The same holds true for the autonomy of our age. If God exists, our first life pursuit should be to know him and embrace his design for our lives.  Jeremiah 9:23-24; Psalm 2:1-6

 



You’re Still Invited

supperSometimes we correct one another based on our experience and culture rather than on solid data. For instance, I might ask you to go out to Sunday Dinner. I mean … “Church is over, let’s go eat.” I grew up referring to the mid-day meal (especially on Sunday) as dinner. Others insist, that dinner
should only be used to refer the evening meal. “You know, ‘Breakfast, lunch and dinner.’” What about supper? “Oh that’s just another word for dinner.” How sure of yourself are you on this one?

Supper does refer to the evening meal; no debate. It comes from the old French souper which literally means “evening meal.” Linguistically, it has ties back to the evening meal that Jesus shared with his disciples the night he was betrayed.

Dinner (now hold onto your seats) comes from the Latin disj?j?n?re meaning “to break one’s fast.” What!? Dinner means breakfast? No … it was never used that way. It has traditionally referred to the largest meal of the day, either lunch or supper. How you use the word dinner may reveal something about your ancestral roots. People with rural agricultural ties are much more likely to refer to the mid-day meal as dinner. Because, that’s when they had their largest meal. In the late 1800s, Noah Webster wrote, “The dinner of fashionable people would be the supper of rustics.” I’m a rustic … but I’m a linguistically vindicated rustic. If I ask you to Sunday Dinner at Noon and you correct me … that’s okay, you’re still invited.

Sometimes we judge sin based on our experience and culture rather than on the solid foundation of God’s Word. Growing up, I heard that it was a sin for a man to pluck his eyebrows. This caused me great consternation since I had witnessed a couple of generations of untamed brows. Funny thing is, that’s nowhere in the Bible. It is in the Quran, but not the Bible.

The Bible really does identify certain actions as sin (Exodus 20; Colossians 3:5-6). The Bible also says that we’re to confront in order to restore when we see a brother or sister sinning (Luke 17:3; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 3:12). Just remember … God’s Word must be the deciding rule by which we identify sinful actions, not culture or tradition.



Action!

They wereaction-clapboard one-man armies blazing and kicking across the movie screens. The first two that I remember distinctly were Bronson and Eastwood. Maybe memory has just blurred all the movies together, but I only remember one plot;
  • Good guy’s family is killed by bad guys,
  • Good guy looks sad,
  • Good guy single handedly destroys entire crime syndicate.

I think they usually turned in their badge first.

The second wave of cinematic memories came along during my high school and college years … Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Segal, Gibson, Van Damme and Willis. Some were decent actors … and some had muscles. Some learned to act along the way … and then there was Chuck Norris. Thespian or not, they were all tough and they all took on the world … ALONE.

Though the Bible has its Action Hero moments (David vs. Goliath or Samson vs. a thousand) the preponderance of the Bible’s victory stories happen in community. Even where one figure stands out so predominantly, like Moses for instance, if you read carefully you will find a list of men and women that God sent just when their support was needed (Aaron, Miriam, Jethro, Phineas, etc.). Even though God plus one is a mighty army, He did not design us for isolation. Faith is best lived out in community. The Lord Jesus taught us to pray in the plural. The majority of the New Testament is written to the tight-knit organism called ‘The Church’.

And in him you (plural) are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.   Ephesians 2:22

Come in from the cold Rambo … spiritual warfare is not a one-man battle.



Hidden Slavery

HelpMeTrafficking

Ah, the uncomplicated ease of growing up in a rich and developed nation. My public education left me with the impression that slavery was a thing of the past. It had been abolished … it was illegal to own another person. I was happily ignorant of the fact that while I played in the sun, children (and adults) in other parts of the world were forced to work in mines, dimly lit factories and even in the sex trade. That last one was probably the biggest and latest shock to my naïve sensibilities.

Slavery takes many forms and is known by many euphemisms, but it is still going strong. I just want to unmask one form of slavery that hides in plain view. In case you didn’t know, the sex trafficking of humans is the fastest growing and most lucrative form of slavery today. Maybe we’ve all seen enough TV to realize that most prostitutes don’t choose their profession, but many of us are still happily naïve about the realities of the sex industry.

Pornography in all its forms is slavery. It is gaining wider and wider acceptance in our society. It’s rapidly being mainstreamed and normalized. The proliferation of web-connected devices has made it more readily available and to increasingly younger ages. What many people don’t realize is that pornography is in bed with the slave trade. The biggest lie of pornography is the lie of consent. Is some pornography produced by people who freely consent? Undoubtedly, but you will never know which you are viewing. There are no scrupulous producers of pornography; what they can’t pay someone to do, they will coerce someone to do. And it’s all mixed together on the internet. If you have viewed or payed for pornography, you have touched the sexual slave trade. That’s a jolting statement, but it’s true.

One slave you may have overlooked in the equation is yourself. The Apostle Peter wrote …“a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”(2 Peter 2:19)  If this is an area of your spiritual walk where you feel enslaved, I will do my best to help. With men, I can sympathetically share my own struggles and strategies for victory. For women, Sue and I will do our best to connect you with resources to help you find freedom.


The Strange Things Pastors Do and Why They Do Them:

Film at 11
Okay … there’s no film. This is print media. But if you followed your pastor around with a camera you might catch him doing some strange things on the premises. Here are a few …
  • On my knees with a razor blade scraping wax and paint off the floor tiles.
  • On a ladder fixing damaged ceiling tiles or running sound cables.
  • With a hammer drill putting up closet doors.
  • Staring blankly at the kitchen … I’m mentally rearranging.
  • Straightening, hiding ecclesia-clutter (all the stuff that accumulates at a church).
  • Washing windows … washing anything that needs washing.
  • Buying carpets at PriceSmart to capture some of the dust that blows under the doors.

Don’t let me fail to mention that Sue is right beside me, doing the same things. I’m so thankful that we’re wired the same way. I’m admitting that part of this is due to our personality bents. But I’m also glad she shares my vision for a clean and inviting worship space. I like to come into that kind of environment and I think others do too. Actually research by the Rainer Foundation bears this out. People form instant opinions about a church if it is cluttered or dilapidated.

Now … do I think a committed Christ-follower will be put off by such things? I hope not. I do want a nice worship space for all of you, but I also want to remove barriers for the seeker and the disenfranchised. I will not dumb down the Gospel to reach out … but I don’t mind cleaning up the church.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Colossians 4:5