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

Time’s Up!

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Well, now that we we’ve got our Permanent Residency Card and our E-card for Panama, it’s time to go get our four-year driver’s license. No hurry though, the expiration date on our current license reads “12/03/2016.” We’ve got like nine months … right? WRONG! Wrong country, wrong system, wrong date = wrong Wiziardes!
The U.S. records dates ordered by Month/Day/Year. This is known as the Middle-endian dating system. The majority of the world uses the Little-endian system, placing the day first and then the month. Only a handful of nations use the Big-endian system … and it would be the minority if it weren’t the favored system of populous China. I personally like Canada’s solution. According to Wikipedia, they use all three. No wonder the world likes them J. Anyway, all that to say … instead of having nine months, our Panamanian driver’s licenses are EXPIRED.

So what calendar are you living by? By which time system do you recon life? While it’s not often expressed, one popular scheme (Existential Materialism) measures time like this … “Get what you can, while you can, because this life is all you get.” Another says, “Careful how you live, what goes around comes around.” That’s Karma. But what does God’s word say about time?

God’s Mercy: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

(2 Peter 3:9)

Our Brevity: You sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

(Psalm 90:12; see also Psalm 39:4 and Job 14:5)

Our Mission: As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 

(John 9:4)

Let’s get on God’s time system. If you haven’t yet, start by accepting his patient mercy … while there’s time!



Undercover Boss

 

Undercover Boss: Undercover BossHave you see the show? A CEO goes undercover in really bad makeup. He or she pretends to be a newbie employee at their own company. Invariably they meet employees from these basic molds:
  – One who is performing well above their pay-grade.
  – One who is getting by, but struggling with some huge personal tragedy.
  – One who just isn’t a good representative of the company’s values.
  – One who has totally lost sight of the privilege of being employed.

The climax of the show comes when the boss reveals his or her true identity to the employees they had worked alongside. The excellent employees are usually a bit surprised at the boss’ praise and generosity. The burdened employee is relieved and encouraged. The poorest performing employees seldom own up to their bad attitudes and habits.

Can you imagine if Jesus appeared on Undercover Boss? Or maybe it would be called Undercover LORD. We call him “LORD” in our songs and prayers, but it’s easy to forget what that title implies. Here are some synonyms: Master, Ruler, Sovereign, Potentate, Monarch, King.

Is that the position He holds in your life? Are you a good representative of His Kingdom and its values? Have you ever embraced the privilege of being His servant? Jesus cares about the burdens you bear … and He notes those who serve Him faithfully. There is a moment of revelation coming. Read the preview in Matthew 25:31-46. It starts,

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne …



Hi My Name Isn’t

Hi MyName Tag Isnt Name Isn’t. The adult class I led at my former church, chose to wear nametags. They saw it as a way to welcome guests and break down the barriers for people who didn’t attend as often. There were always mornings when non-conformists wouldn’t “tag up,” but that was okay. It actually helped us learn each other’s names and guests could more quickly connect with established members.

One Sunday, I noticed a visitor introducing himself to our regulars. He stuck his hand into a group of guys and confidently said, “Good morning Scott!” The person he was addressing chuckled out, “Hi … but my name is Roger.” He turned to another man in the circle and ventured, “So John …” At that moment laughter erupted from the group and the man he was addressing said, “I’m so sorry, I’m Kenny.” The four friends, guffawed and pounded each other’s shoulders. I realized what had happened, but it was too late. In friendly jest, several of the men had switched nametags. They apologized and explained to our guest, but finished out the morning wearing the wrong tags.

Their harmless prank had not been intended for the guest … and that was the biggest issue. They had no intentions concerning guests. They were not thinking of them at all. They had forgotten that the nametags were a vital part of our welcome. A good tool turned (unintentionally) into a glaring sign that said … “It’s hard to get in.” Our guest never returned.

CBC was wearing nametags when I first arrived in September of 2013. They helped me get on a first name basis with people much more quickly. I also noticed that guests often had a printed tag on their second visit. That seemed like a great way to say … “You’re wanted here!” I still think they’re a good idea, especially in our community where people come and go so frequently. Let’s make nametags an intentional part of our welcome. Thank you for your effort of “tagging up” each Sunday.


Machetetiquette

MachetetiquetteMachete is my new word for a behavior I’ve observed on the roadways of Panama. I combined two words which are defined below with the help of Merriam-Webster:

   – Machete: a large, heavy knife that is used for cutting plants and as a weapon.
   – Etiquette: the rules indicating the proper and polite way to behave.
 

Panamanians seem to have rules indicating the proper and polite way to carry a machete. A machete has a handle. Most of us carry things by their handles. Not so for the Panamanian and his machete. Here are some carrying positions I’ve observed:

  • Held by the blade, point and sharp edge towards the carrier – handle down
  • Held by the blade near the handle (sometimes wrapped with cloth) – handle facing out
  • Held by the handle, but upside down and facing back
When a Panamanian is holding a machete in the normal position they’re usually using it. I haven’t had the chance to ask, but I’m pretty sure that’s the point. There is a way to carry a machete that says, “I’m just carrying this. I’m not
intending to use it.” All of the holds I’ve described above recognize that a machete could be used as either a tool … or a weapon. They signal non-aggression.
 

Words have a lot in common with machetes. They can be helpful tools or harmful weapons and we need to be conscious of how we carry them. The careless use of words can signal aggression when none is intended. As we continue to think about how to improve our welcome, let’s put our words into the mix. I have no negative circumstances in mind, but offer the encouragement the Apostle Paul gave the church at Colossae:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5–6



Hurdles

Hurdles

When I was growing up, going out for track meant being tested in all events and competing in the areas of least incompetence. So, despite being “solidly” built and somewhat uncoordinated, I still had to run the hurdles. I had to run right alongside the kid whose legs started just below his armpits. It was hard to get up out of the dust and challenge another towering obstacle while others were floating across the finish line.

Getting into church should not look like a series of hurdles. No one among us would want it to be. Hear me loud and clear … CBC regularly gets praised as a friendly and welcoming church. But can I tell you a secret gained from 20 years of ministry? The same church can get high and low scores on its welcome depending on who you talk to. Much like your experience with physical activities … your experience of a new church can be somewhat tied to natural competencies. It’s not universally true, but people who score higher on the extravert level tend to report churches being friendly. You might say, they see what they are.
 

In a national survey on church attendance, first-time guests revealed obstacles they experienced to feeling welcome. Here are three worth examining:

  • People took all the aisle seats making it hard/awkward to get to a seat
  • People were gathered in cliques talking and laughing … we felt ignored
  • People covered seats around them with their stuff … signaling we weren’t welcomed to sit by them
 

 These could be hurdles for any guest … but especially for one who already feels vulnerable or shy. How could we help?

  • If you need an isles seat, please feel free to take one. But watch for the guest – stand, smile, shake a hand motion to the seats beside you.
  • Please enjoy your friends … that’s part of what makes Sunday morning great. But keep an eye out for the new person … the new potential friend.
  • Become more Panamanian in your personal space requirement :). Place your items on the floor beneath your seat.
 

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4