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

Too Big to Land

airplane-1and2

Since “real” commercial airliners are too large to land in Wichita, Kansas, getting there required a jaunt on a jet so small that Sue hit her head on the overhead luggage compartment. It wasn’t a problem for me since I never actually stood up. I just stayed in a seated position and waddled off the plane.

Before boarding one such flight, the crew member at the gate actually announced “We’ve finally got the oxygen replaced, so we can begin boarding.” I thought, “Now that’s a small jet … the last passengers used up all the air.” Then my mind started musing on possible announcements for such a small aircraft:

  • “We’ll begin with boarding rows 1 through 2.”
  • “Today your captain’s flight instructor will be …”
  • “Please return your seatback by ½ inch to the full upright position.”
  • “Seatbelt extenders for your toddler can be procured from a flight attendant.
  • “This aircraft has three emergency exits. One is in the lavatory, so please exercise caution while flushing.”
  • “We’re passing through the cabin with the inflight snack. Please wait until everyone has been served before asking for a second peanut.”
In case you haven’t figured it out, this blog isn’t heading towards a deeply profound conclusion. I’m just saying that when life has you cramped, a little clean humor can go a long way towards ameliorating the situation. It doesn’t have to be funny to anyone but you. In fact, be sensitive to the fact it might not be received as humorous by frustrated and fatigued people. I do believe God created us with ability … even the need to laugh.
 

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” A warm smile and a relaxed demeanor might just be key to your Christian witness on a planeload full of “crushed spirits” … and bruised knees.



Wait for the Leaves

 
El Capitan pic
One of my favorite sites in Panama is the gigantic and stately tree ten minutes from Gorgona as you’re heading toward Panama City. We’ve named it “El Capitán de Capira.”
 

I haven’t nailed down the seasons here in Panama, but for that beautiful tree, December should be renamed DecemBare. One week it was full and green, the next it was completely unadorned. It seems to be the one tree in this country that thinks it’s winter. It also seems to spend about half the year naked and half royally robed in green. Last year, we actually mourned a bit thinking that it had died. Now that I know it’s just dormant, I can patiently wait for its beauty to return.

If you’re marriage seems bare and lifeless …instead of leaving, wait for leaves. Relationships can go through dormancy and even hard winters, but that doesn’t mean their vitality can’t return. An extensive study conducted by The Institute for American Values followed the relationships of a large sampling of couples for five years. Special attention was given to couples who reported being “very unhappy” with their relationship. At the end of five years, the pollsters checked back and discovered that the two-thirds of couples who had stayed together reported being “very satisfied.” Interestingly, 80% of those who divorced reported being no happier after ending their relationship. The couples who had remained married attributed their success to a myriad of factors, but the only global common denominator was that they “stayed.”

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Our faithful and loving God honors faith and love. Pray, work on communication skills, humbly give and forgive … and wait for leaves.


Trust God in the Thunder

 

fireworks

From our balcony, we gazed into the color infused, light punctuated hours of the fading year. We flew untethered through space as stars sizzled and crackled before our faces and brilliant quasars throbbed out their stunning light from the farther reaches of Coronado. Light glimmered off the bay an upside-down Milk Way brightening the night from below. Glowing paper orbs of orange and yellow floated lazily through the heavens like planets running their extraterrestrial course. The atmosphere thundered with the glorious spectacle of Panama’s New Year’s fireworks!
 
Fireworks have always been a joy for me. All the better when they’re free and abundant. Panama and our 19th floor condo have added the pleasure of seeing the display face to face as the shells burst at the height of our balcony. But los fuegos artificiales come is varying degrees of splendor. The higher shells are preceded by the sharp crack of the explosive charge that lifts them to their impressive apogee. Other shells whimper their “why bother” pop and live exactly up to that expectation, hardly making it off the ground. Ah … but occasionally there is a deep, hollow, whispering thump and then you know to look for something spectacular. It is the percussion of a heavy charge lifting a shell to lofty heights, shattering the darkness with ethereal wonder.
 

If fireworks had feelings, the most beautiful shells would be those most abused in delivery. A fuse ignites the powder at the bottom of the tube in which the shell is tightly packed. At ignition, the shell resists movement for just a millisecond and is subjected to extreme heat and pressure. The fiery trial has its way sending the shell flaming, hurtling toward the heavens. The scorching fire of the blast sets the soul of the projectile ablaze, eventually shattering its shell and giving full vent to its beauty.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.     James 1:2-4

 This year when trouble thunders, trust God to take you to new heights of faith and maturity.



A Christmas Message from Linus:

LinusThis year marks 50 showings of the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Fifty years … but I wonder how many people have noticed this. I read about it in a piece entitled, Just Drop the Blanket, by blogger Jason Soroski. In commenting on Linus’ delivery of Luke 2:8-14, Soroski writes,

Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up. Until this moment. When he simply drops it.

In that climactic scene when Linus shares what “Christmas is all about,” he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional. Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words “fear not.”

What do you fear? What’s your blanket? Does the Christmas message have any power to help you let go? As we move past Christmas on our calendars, let’s not forget the prophesied Messiah bears, among other titles, “Wonderful Counselor … The Prince of Peace.”

I would think that owning the title “Prince of Peace” would have the power to dispense that to his followers. He certainly spoke as if he did …

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Our Prince has power to give us peace in the midst of worldly troubles … but according to the second passage, that peace is only “in” Him.

Father, grant us the grace to drop our fear and the blankets we use to cover it and cling to our Prince of Peace. Help us to live under His reign and be lights of peace in a dark and fearful world.



StrAngels

 
Angels
Angels can be problematic. There is a risk of making too much or too little out of their existence. Angelic appearances are highly concentrated in the Nativity narratives … so it’s fitting that angels are represented at Christmas time.
 
Part of the problem is that angels, while abundant during this season, are not well represented. What I mean is that the angels we see in Christmas displays and on trees have little or no resemblance to what the Bible teaches.
 
Resemblance … is a good place to begin. First of all, angels are not typically visible to human eyes. They were created and exist as spiritual beings in the spiritual realm (Hebrews 1:14). The Bible says very little about their actual appearance. One conclusion we can draw is that they are awesome beings. There may be some distinction among heavenly beings, but one of their Hebrew names is Seraphim, which literally means “burning ones.” The New Testament brings this across, In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.” There are several places where an angels appearance is so imposing that the humans first response on seeing him is to worship. Angels are always swift to redirect all praise and worship to God alone. John reports in Revelation 22:8-9, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel … But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”
 
 Him? Another thing that’s odd about Christmas representations of angels is that they are predominantly feminine. The universal testimony of Scripture is that when angels make themselves visible, they either take the form of or are mistaken for men. Why that would be, I can’t say, but it is obviously God’s design as reported in His Word. Does anyone know where I can purchase a fearsome, shining manly angel for my tree?