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

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!


What Did I Do?

2015-11-01 Pastor's Corner

Oh no! Police lights in the rearview mirror! Your pulse quickens! You look at the speedometer, but you’re not speeding. You wonder if you have a tail light out. Did you make an illegal lane change? What did I do?!?

Nothing … you’re in Panama. This past Friday, I drove almost all the way from Gorgona to Capira with that scene out my back window. I did instinctively slow down, but then I saw the word “Bomberos” plastered across the vehicle’s hood. Those pretty colored lights don’t mean pull over in this country. They mean something more like, “Here I am … I’m official … see my pretty lights.”

And yet … we don’t want to forget what we’re supposed to do when we see them in the U.S. or Canada. That could be disastrous. When they have you out of the car face down on the asphalt, they’re probably not going to care what flashing lights do or don’t mean in Panama. Here we live by one set of rules, but it’s not wise to forget the rules of your country of origin.

For Christians, it’s even more difficult. We have to live with an eye on two sets of rules. We see that in 1 Peter 2:11-13,

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority …

God’s purpose for our being good citizens of both worlds is evangelistic. The witness of our lives is supposed to point people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Never lose sight of where your real citizenship lies … the Gospel is on the line.

Anticipating His Return

2015-10-25 Pastor's Corner

The rest … still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Now that we’ve spent over twenty weeks in Jeremiah … can you pick out where these verses come from? Surprisingly … not Jeremiah! They are from Revelation 9:20-21. These words about mankind’s recalcitrant refusal to be reconciled to God are spoken after the devastation of the Sixth Trumpet and the destruction of one third of the population of the earth.

There are certainly many reasons to be anticipating our Lord’s rapidly approaching return, but I am sometimes discouraged by the reckless novelty with which Bible prophecy is pursued. So much of what I read and hear seems to major on ferreting out what science experiment or secret society will be the catalyst for these events. I think Revelation is abundantly clear! God will be the undeniable catalyst … everyone will know and acknowledge that fact. If humans could in anyway attribute the coming global tragedies to natural or man-made causes … they certainly would. Consider Revelation 16:8-10:

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

The issue in these last days will not be atheism. It will be the ultimate expression of mankind’s ancient sin … “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21)

Hardships of Discipline

2015-10-18 Pastors Corner

During one of Judah’s most rebellious periods, under arguably its wickedest king … it enjoyed a great time of peace and prosperity. How does that square with God’s warnings that sin would bring discipline and judgement? The hardships of discipline are designed by God to bring people to repentance and restoration of relationship. But God has more than one tool in his tool box.

Once I did something that could have greatly angered my dad. It involved the misuse of a tool that I was not supposed to touch. When he discovered it … he didn’t say a word. He just gave me one look (a mix of disappointment and sympathy) and then went back to treating me with love. No punishment. Oddly that made a deeper impression than any spanking or rebuke. Sometimes a wise parent tries patience and kindness in the midst of disobedience to draw a child into a deeper relationship. God’s punishment of sin is meant to bring us to repentance … but so is God’s patience and kindness.

The famous description of man’s depravity in Romans 1 is followed by an often neglected warning against hypocritical judgement; condemning in others sins of which you are guilty. But the passage also contains valuable insight into our Heavenly Father’s parenting technique.

So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patiencenot realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:3-4

As with his people long ago, God does not always bring immediate consequences for our sin. His forbearance offers an opportunity to turn to him based on love rather than punishment. His kindness is meant to lead you to forgiveness.