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

Introducing Today’s Speaker:

wiziarde-family-circus-posterWelcome to the pulpit a speaker raised on the central plains of the United States. His maternal grandfather (Heinrich) fled Russia during the Bolshevik Rebellion. His paternal great-grand-father (Robert) came to the States with a French Boys’ Choir and jumped ship (he was an undocumented singer). Robert went on to distinguish himself as a published author, playwright, composer and voice teacher. The middle of his three sons carried on the performing tradition, first appearing as a solo high-wire artist (Koko the Balancing Clown) with circus’ like Whitehall and Ringling Brothers. He later formed his own traveling circus … this may explain a lot about today’s speaker.
Our speaker felt the call to ministry at age seven, but his first years of paid employment were in the restaurant industry; the last three of which were spent as a Chinese Chef (he was never actually Chinese … but he loved learning to prepare their cuisine). Though he truly loved this latter job, its grueling hours and miniscule remuneration convinced him to get a college education.
He initially pursued a Performing Arts degree which led to some interesting experiences: preforming a self-choreographed dance in front of 500 people, a short stint as a ventriloquist, many theater performances and most significantly his appearance as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. This was significant because while he was playing the lion, his future wife was playing the piano (she was the accompanist … there are no talking pianos in that play). Anyway, they fell in love and when he finally got the ‘Noiv’ he asked the pianist to marry him. Shortly before meeting his wife, your speaker changed his degree to Religion and Philosophy, surrendering to God’s persistent calling into the ministry.
You probably have heard much of the rest of his story … but your speaker is still amazed that somewhere in that strange and winding past God had planned to bring him to Pastor in Panama.
Truly … Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.  (Proverbs 19:21)

A Picture of the Church


christ-community-church On August 25th, 2013, I stood before the congregation that I had served for almost twenty years and announced that Sue and I would be concluding our ministry at Christ Community Church and going to Panama to serve for six months at Coronado Bible Church. This was to be our first step towards fulltime ministry somewhere in Panama. I described for those listening some of the images from the past that flooded my mind.

Maybe the pictures are the easiest to describe … young dewy eyes filled with hope and longing standing in front of me at the marriage alter. Holding a couple’s first cooing child and praying a silent blessing. Rushing to the hospital because a mother was in distress and seeing God’s perfect, pink, naked answers to prayer just minutes old. Scenes from the beginning to the end of life and everything in between crowd my memory. Names and faces of saints ushered into glory like a hallway I can walk through in God’s fine art exhibit. Hours and hours of profitable ministry and opportunities missed stand side by side in the gallery. There I remember forgiving and being forgiven … exhorting and being exhorted … discipling and being discipled. And I think of all the lessons I’ve learned from your lives. How seeing your walk in the present, despite the pain of your past, has given me hope for the future. I have seen proven, in flesh and blood, that “God works all things together for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Because of you, I have confidence that “he who began a good work in me will be able to complete it” (Philippians 1:6). Whatever enters my life, it can be lived out for my joy and God’s glory. I don’t care what others may say … you can’t get that in any human organization. What I’ve experienced here among you is the mystery and the beauty of the Body of Christ. You have proven the words of Jesus that “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age …” (Mark 10:30). You truly have become to us brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers.
Sue and I feel privileged in having begun to build these same relationships here in Panama. We have already experienced … and look forward to experiencing here the mystery and the beauty of the Body of Christ. See you in two weeks!

Keep Your Distance

Fourteen years after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, the Jewish exiles in Babylon receive a message from God through the prophet Ezekiel. It came as a vision of how to construct a new temple when God brought them back to Israel from captivity. God reminded the people of why Jerusalem with its temple was destroyed and why they were sent into exile. Here is the rather strange charge from Ezekiel 43:8,
“They placed their threshold next to my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them, they defiled my holy name by their detestable practices. So I destroyed them in my anger.”
What does that mean? In the last few decades of the Kingdom of Judah, some of their kings actually built shrines to foreign gods within the courtyard of YHWH’s Temple. The doors and doorposts of these shrines were right next to those leading into the Holy of Holies where God had promised to dwell among the Israelites. Holy means, “set apart for special use.” It was bad enough that the Jews worshiped other gods, but to do so within the temple courts showed utter contempt for the holiness of God’s name (his reputation).
Back to the plan for the new temple. The new temple, where God’s glory was to reside, was to be quite small; 172 feet by 172 feet. It was to sit in the center of the Temple Mount where only the priests were allowed. That was an area of almost seventeen acres. All of that was to be surround by the Holy Precinct; land dedicated to God and his service. That area was a staggering fifty-three square miles (137 km sq.)! God’s message? “I am holy … keep your distance.”
When Jesus died on the cross, Luke 23:45 tells us that “the curtain of the temple was torn in two.”  No more would man be separated from God. The grace of God poured out through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ, made a way for us to approach the Holy God (Hebrews 4:15-16). In fact, God now dwells directly in and among his people through the Holy Spirit. Wonderful news! God is still Holy … how should the knowledge of His constant presence affect our daily lives?

The Soul Enemy

Who’s the worst, most evil villain you can remember from a movie? I saw some horrendous ones in my high school days. One circle I ran in had an informal social planner we’ll call Alex. He was constantly reading horror stories, reading magazines about the special effects for horror flicks and introducing us to the latest movie he’d discovered. I remember watching one movie with Alex laughing uncontrollably while one person after another was murdered. He claimed he was laughing at the absurdly bad special effects, but deep down I think Alex was a horribly frightened person. For him, laughing at evil was a twisted sort of therapy. I had to walk away from that group of friends … or at least beg off of movie nights. I came out of the womb wired to care for people. I just won’t be entertained by watching them be hunted, tortured or murdered (even pretend). I can’t imagine the images our youth are burning into their minds. I can’t imagine where this “entertainment” will take our world.
Here’s the tragic truth … the most insanely evil character you can imagine is a cartoon imitation compared to the real enemy of your souls. The usurper Satan would prefer to be feared and worshiped in the place of, or on a par with his Creator. If he can’t get that, his next choice is laughter or ignorance. If he can’t steal the outright title of “lord” in someone’s life, he’s fine with not being taken seriously. As long as he can pull the strings and shape the hearts and minds of future generations, he’s more than pleased. Perhaps his greatest trick on Western society has been foisting himself off as an imaginary character who is good fodder for our entertainment. If you’re amused by evil … be afraid … be very afraid!
(Reprinted from January 19, 2014 blog)

Trophy Bag


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.