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

The Other Wiseman

The Other Wiseman
Have you ever wondered about the Wisemen? Was there really just three? What was it like following ‘the star’? While we don’t really know, it is interesting to think about.
 
Sue’s family had a Christmas tradition of reading Van Dyke’s story, “The Other Wiseman.” That’s how I became acquainted with the story of Artaban. Van Dyke built on the Biblical story of the visiting Magi and specifically the tradition of the three wise men. Artaban, his story goes, was delayed by stopping to lend aid to a dying man. That postponement put Artaban permanently behind. He arrives in Bethlehem after Joseph and Mary have fled with Jesus to Egypt. While there, Artaban uses some of the treasure intended for the infant king to save a child from Herod’s soldiers. Always one step behind the movements of Jesus, Artaban spends thirty-three years and almost his entire treasure searching, doing acts of mercy and saving lives. The old Wiseman finally arrives back in Jerusalem in time for Jesus’ crucifixion. Having never met Christ face-to-face, he spends the last of his treasure to rescue a girl being sold as a slave. While in the Temple, a falling roof tile strikes the old man down. As he lays dying, Artaban finally hears the voice of the King he so longed to meet … “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
 
I do not think that Van Dyke believed that you could work your way into God’s presence. I think he was pushing Christians to ask whether our lives truly reflect the values of the One we say we’ve met. Many who feign a bow at the manger have never encountered the Savior King. Have you?


Advent

Advent
Advent is shortened from the Latin, adventus. It simply means “coming.” The dictionary defines it as “the arrival of notable person, thing or event.” Even if you didn’t grow up in a more traditional church, you can probably put two and two together. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas when we remember the birth of Jesus. Even if you grew up in a liturgical church, you might nod in agreement to that definition of Advent. That’s where the emphasis usually rests.
 
But take one step further back. When the earliest manuscripts of our New Testament were converted into Latin, adventus was used to translate the Greek word parousia.Parousia does not refer to Christ’s first coming, but his second. As the beginning of the church calendar, Advent was originally a solemn time of looking ahead to the Lord’s coming at the end of time. Early observances included fasting and spiritual reflection concerning an individual’s readiness for the Second Coming of Christ.
 
Over the years, the Advent season has migrated in many churches to solely a remembrance of Jesus’ infant arrival in Bethlehem. Although that will be our main focus of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, I encourage you to also take that look ahead. I think this sentence from Wikipedia says it very well:The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.”
 

Had Jesus, the Immanuel of Bethlehem, not gone to cross to bear the rightful sentence for our sins … none of us could ever hope to face him at his Second Coming. His gift should be more than enough to make your Christmas Merry!

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.                    1 Thessalonians 5:23-24



My Adoption

2015-11-22 Pastors Corner

After years of infertility, some missionary friends of ours decided to adopt in the country they’re serving. The path they traveled was fraught with hurdles and heartaches. They were examined by doctors and psychologists. Their home was inspected and they were forced to plow through miles of red tape on numerous occasions. But finally, they have a beautiful five-year-old girl.

I was amazed by the last step in the process. It must have been the most daunting of all. Once they had been approved by everyone else, they had to be accepted by the child they were trying to adopt. They had done more than she could ever imagine to bring her into their family. All the expense was theirs. They didn’t chose her based on her talents, fortune, looks or aptitude … the adoption process was fueled by their desire to love on an unloved child. But after all the love they had invested … in the end she had to ask to be part of their family.

I wept as I read the news of that last step in the adoption process. No human analogy is perfect, but this spoke to me of God adopting me as his child. He did all the work. He did it not based on anything in me, but on his propensity to love the unloved. He broke into my world and paid all the fees … and they were staggering! But in the end he did not force me to love him. I had to accept being accepted into his family.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:11-12

Ah the beautiful mystery of God’s foreknowing adoption and our choice in receiving the gift! For more on your adoption, see Ephesians 1:3-14



Time is Flying

2015-11-15 Pastors Corner

Here in the Tropics, we have few seasonal markers to tell us what’s coming. Standing in the checkout line, I looked up and realized that I was staring at a Christmas candy cane. I thought, “Why do they have that out?” Then I remembered that it is almost Christmas. Yikes! How did that sneak up on me? Well … I had no cooling weather and changing leaves. No TV at the condo advertising Holiday entertainment. No Black Friday circulars in the mail … no mail (that’s still wonderfully weird). Here in Panama, I’m going to have to be more attentive to the passing of time.

Most of us have hit the age where it’s starting to be more evident that life is flying (has flown) by. Our joints know the weather is changing before we do. Our Doctors are younger than we are. We wonder if the change that fell out of our pocket is worth picking up. We’re the target audience for life insurance … NO MEDICAL EXAMINE REQUIRED! There are signs. And yet … many live as if they had all the time in the world. Moses wrote this ancient wake up call,

Lord … You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.” For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning— though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. (Psalm 90:3-6)

In a society that does all it can to stave off or at least ignore the brevity of life, these words might be called morbid cynicism. But God’s Word calls them “wisdom.” Psalm 90 encourages us to count the days of our ephemeral existence and run for refuge to the Eternal God. It culminates in this humble prayer,

Teach us to number our day aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom. (Verse 12)



Panama Holiday Week

2015-11-08 Pastor's Corner
Being here for two years now, we’ve become aware that Panama takes its holidays very seriously. This concerned me since I had to go into the city this past Tuesday. There was really no need for concern … because the city had come to the beaches. Corridor Norte on the way to the airport was empty. Only when we returned did we run into the streams of humanity emptying from Coronado, Gorgona and up the coast. November is packed with people and celebrations!

2nd – All Soul’s Day or Day of the Dead

3rd – Separation from Columbia

4th – Flag Day

5th – Colon Day

10th – First Call for Independence from Spain

28th – Independence from Spain

I’m sure it will be a while before I start to grasp the significance of all of these dates. But something simple struck me … November is a month that begins with death followed by multiple celebrations of freedom. It made me think of the progression of my own life.

Colossians 2 says that once I was dead in my sins. But then God made me alive with Christ and forgave all my sins. In the liberation movement of all ages, He disarmed the powers and authorities that had ruled and dominated my life and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross!  John 8:36 says, “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!” This is the supreme story of death followed by a life of freedom … and it’s worth celebrating!