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

Time for Thankfulness

Just this week, I asked Google, “What time is Thanksgiving Dinner?” I had to ask because my family’s tradition was … you eat when it’s ready. Maybe it was just my hungry childhood inpatience, but it seemed like we were always waiting on something or someone: a miscalculation in turkey cook time, that member of the family hadn’t arrived yet … again, etc. So, I had no recollection of a traditional time to eat the festive meal.

According to one article turned up by Google, the most popular time for Thanksgiving Dinner is 3:00 pm. It’s okay to argue … because your family tradition should have been the gold-standard for the rest of the world. Why not at noon or 6:30 pm? The article provided a list of plausible reasons. I quote …

  • An earlier meal creates a more relaxed celebration, plus there’s plenty of time to digest before going to bed.
  • An earlier dinner accommodates traveling guests and lets them return home at a reasonable hour.
  • Football! Dinners are scheduled to coincide with the end of the early afternoon game, or to begin well in advance of the late afternoon game
  • The Historical Answer: “Dinner” was once the main meal of the day, served around one or two in the afternoon, while “supper” was a much lighter meal, or even just a snack, eaten around sundown.
  • Bonus: Sue remembers their mealtime being tied to watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade together as a family.

Like I said … I mostly remember waiting. And when we finally set down? Mom would put the whole affair on hold until we each listed something for which we were thankful. This was acute torture … not to mention how hard it is to talk with all that preparatory saliva. But my mom was right, there should always be time to slow down and offer thanks. Thankfulness is mentioned 133 times in the Bible and that number would increase greatly if you included synonyms. Slow down and take time to be thankful … at 3:00 pm this Thursday … or any other time, every day of the year.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

 
 
 


Dreams of Redemption

Occasionally, I read a devotional that seems especially fitting to our times and world situation. I want to share such a one today. In my lifetime, I have never known the U.S. and Canada more polarized religiously and politically. The war of words in the media is often bitter and mocking. The feeling that I get, even from many Christians, is that they have written their opponents off as hopeless causes. I can certainly go there in my thinking but this devotional by John D. Barry challenged me to be praying for those who seem most opposed to the Gospel of Christ.

I’ve known people who seemed beyond saving—who seemed to have gone too far down the wrong path to ever turn to the right one. But in the Bible we see that this is not the case. God is capable of turning anyone’s heart. One of the most shocking examples is Nebuchadnezzar.
 
In a decree to all the nations he rules (and perhaps other nations as well), Nebuchadnezzar remarks: “It is pleasing to me to recount the signs and wonders that the Most High God worked for me. How great are his signs and wonders, how strong is his kingdom, an everlasting kingdom; and his sovereignty is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:2–3). He then goes on to recount a dream that Yahweh planted in his mind.
 
Before Nebuchadnezzar experiences redemption, he tastes humiliation and endures great trials (Daniel 4:28–33). But Yahweh does not intend to merely humble the king—He intends to make him a righteous man who can be used for His good purposes. We don’t know whether Nebuchadnezzar ever fully accepts Yahweh as his God and turns from his evil practices, but it does seem that he experiences repentance: “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and then my reason returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and the one who lives forever I praised and I honored” (Daniel 4:34). In return, God restores him.
 
We can never predict how God will use people, and at times we may be shocked by whom He uses. Some people we think are lost may end up being found after all. Let’s dream of redemption for those who need it most.

 

What people in your life need redemption? For whom are you praying? Have you lost hope about anyone God may still redeem?

 
 


Off by Degrees

Wednesday and Friday of this week a great team of people showed up to help with preparations for using our new entrance. Emptying out the back of the sanctuary to make way for more seating revealed how badly the rear wall needed painting.

Finding no old paint cans for reference, Sue and I headed off to the store with a clear vision of the color in our heads. We perused the color swaths and agreed on one we were sure was “very close … although a bit warmer.”

Friday, I was summoned from my office to give and opinion. The freshly painted wall glowed with a stomach upsetting sort of orangish glow. Trying to stay positive, I said, “Well it looks better than before.” One of the crew responded, “Eh … not so much.” The paint color was “Totally Tan” but they were calling it “Fake Tan” and “Spray on Tan.” I felt bad about wasted money and volunteer time, but it was clear that even the paint crew thought the color needed to go. When someone proclaimed that the color was “Trump Tan” … I finally agreed.

I’ve done a lot of painting in my life and know that it’s hard to predict the final effect based on a two-inch color swatch. Still, I was amazed that our memories had led us so far from the desired color. Saturday morning, I was rummaging through some painting supplies and found an old roller pan. It was filled with a thick layer of our original color. I peeled out a large swath from which we were able to get a match. THANK YOU … to those who came out to help us cover “Intolerably Tan.”

When it comes to major wrong turns in life, they seldom happen overnight. The shift in a person’s behavior might seem sudden, but it was more likely a long time coming. The change took place by shades. When their new color finally hit the public wall, people were shocked … sometimes appalled by the contrast. That’s why we all need to keep going back to some immovable point. God’s Word lived and taught in God’s community is that point.

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:12–13
 
 


Spam … Delete

There are days when I feel like I don’t know much, but here are a few things I do know …

·        My student loans are not going to default

·        My car warrantee is not about to expire … nor is it eligible for renewal

·        My window order is not on hold pending important information

·        My criminal records are not about to be made public

·        My AC/plumbing/ductwork/dishwasher repairs are not warrantied

·        I did not miss your call about a lucrative job offer

·        I was not just chosen for the Who’s Who of International Businessmen.

IT’S ALL SPAM … and I’m not talking about the almost edible canned meat. These are ploys marketers have tried to get me to respond to their offers. Why don’t I bite? Because of what I know. My knowledge of my affairs allows me to hit delete with impunity. But … these spam attacks must be awful for people who don’t know the status of their loans, just repaired their AC … or have a hidden past.

That last one is perhaps the cruelest. If you’ve walked away from a rough but hidden past … you might panic. Even if our memories contained nothing to convict us, the more susceptible among us might wonder, “Is there something I don’t know about?” Not only do I have no memories of illegal activity, the FBI assured the Panamanian government (and me) that I have no criminal record. Its wonderfully freeing to know what not to believe based on an authoritative source.

In our spiritual life, Satan spams us all the time. “You’re alone in the universe,” he mutters. At that particular time, I do feel lonely. His attack and my disposition combined leave me reeling with uncertainty. I can’t trust my feeling in this matter, I must turn to an authoritative source. I hear my Savior saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Matthew 28:20  The truth of God’s Word exposes my thoughts of abandonment as Satanic Spam … DELETE!
 
“You are a hopeless sinner … you are beyond redemption!” Ah, but what did my friend Paul write, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15–16  Sense of hopelessness regarding sin? Spam … DELETE!
 


Putting the “Holy” Back in Holidays

First of all … Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends. The Holidays are upon us! Thanksgiving and then Christmas!

This time of year, I still picture Fall blazing yellow, orange and red … just before raking mountains of damp slimy leaves beneath the skeletal remains of once beautiful trees. Sorry, just trying to not to get too nostalgic.

With only subtle cues that the seasons are changing, time slips by unnoticed. So … Thanksgiving and Christmas pounce on me unsuspecting again this year. I wonder if the debate is still raging in the States about the public use of “Merry Christmas?” I think it humorous that secularist want to wish us “Happy Holidays” instead. They have obviously overlooked the meaning of the second word. According to Wikipedia (and several other online sources),

        The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”). The word originally referred only to special religious days.”

So, if you’re going to be up North for the holidays, I say run with it and put the Holy back in the Holidays. Can you imagine the conversations?

Cashier: “Happy Holidays!” You: “Thank you for remembering … this is a holy time. All this food is for our family feast celebrating how good God has been to us this year!”

Cashier: “Happy Holidays!” You: They are holy days aren’t they. What could be more holy than commemorating God coming to earth to live among us and save us from our sins. That is worth celebrating!”

Wherever you are for these Holy Days … try to work your faith into conversations. Maybe we’re the ones that forgot how holy the holidays are. Maybe we lost “Merry Christmas” because we were too shy in speaking about Christ.

 
Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory … Luke 9:26