| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: Love is a four letter word

Posted on 14 February 2019 by LeslieM


Have you ever heard of the term “tough love?” People will say, “I think that person needs some tough love.” There is a new saying that is true that I heard the other day, and I think it’s the opposite of that term “tough love” because “love is tough.”

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, and it is easy to love on special occasions like this. However, there are still many days left out of the year where some days are easy to show love, and some days we have to work hard at showing love to others. How about showing someone love who does not love you back or even someone that may not treat you the way you believe you deserve to be treated. Love should be a big part of our lives. Love is something meant to be expressed, not something to be kept a secret. It seems like people even have a hard time saying “I love you” when we should say it all the time, and we should also show it all the time. It is tough sometimes, but it is not impossible. Why is it that we can say that we love our car, job, dog or even our favorite restaurant, but we cannot say it to each other. We have a hard time saying I love you to the ones that really mean the most to us.

We have to understand that we need God’s help to love others in the same way that He loves us. We always want to put conditions on love, but God does not do that to us. We speak with our actions and say I will love you if you do this for me, treat me this way or buy me this, etc. God does not work on the point system and neither should we. God tells us to love others, period. There are no conditions on that love. God does not say love someone if they do something for you or make you feel a certain way. God says love each other, and, if God tells us to love, then we must be able to do it.

Love is so many things, but it is not conditional. Let’s look at what love is.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.

5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

NLT

Love gives us the ability to be sensitive to the needs, hurts and desires of others and also to feel with them, and experience the world from their perspective. Love gives us the ability to give with no conditions or expectations. Love builds up and encourages; it is determining what is best for someone and doing it. Pray and ask God to help you love the way He loves and He will help you. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day. I LOVE YOU!

Pastor Tony Guadagnino is the pastor at Christian Love Fellowship church, located at 801 SE 10 St., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, visit www.clfministries.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: Is your spiritual vision 20/20?

Posted on 07 February 2019 by LeslieM

Comedian Dennis Swanberg tells the story of his trip to the Super Bowl with his teenage son, Dusty. Their favorite team made it to the Super Bowl, so they planned a father-son road trip. They made the hotel reservations, mapped out the directions, packed the car and left; but they had a problem … They forgot to purchase tickets. Upon arriving, they found the game was sold-out. Dennis saw only one option; he had to purchase tickets from a scalper. The scalper sold Dennis two tickets for $800 and they entered the stadium. Finding their section, they climbed higher and higher… all the way to the very top! By the time they got to their seats, Dennis’ blood was boiling to think he paid $800 to sit on the top row of the stadium. Dusty, on the other hand, has A.D.D. and was already getting into the pre-game festivities and cheering loudly. Dennis’ blood pressure continued to rise, until Dusty spoke something to this effect: Dad, these are great seats! We can see everything the blimp sees!” At that very moment, Dennis realized the depth of Dusty’s statement and began to look at things in a whole new way.

A “blimp-size” vision! That’s what Christians need … the ability to see the big picture, and to gain a new perspective on life’s challenges. So, what would keep a believer from seeing life this way? Some have blurred-vision and they’ve lost focus of what is really important. Some have double vision and want to live for Christ while enjoying the pleasures of sin. Some are nearsighted and they can’t see beyond themselves. Some are farsighted missing the importance of doctrine. Some have sin cataracts blocking their spiritual vision. Some have spiritual Glaucoma and the pressure of bitterness is building inside them. Thankfully, others have experienced corrective surgery, and their spiritual eyes are fixed on Jesus! He restored their sight and they clearly see His love, forgiveness, acceptance, and grace.

During an eye exam, the optometrist measures our vision against the standard of 20/20. We measure spiritual vision against the standard of God’s Word. Since the two great commandments are to love God and to love people, it would seem that those with healthy spiritual vision should be exhibiting love for both. Other diagnostic tools might include looking for the presence of spiritual fruit as described in Gal. 5:22, examining the way a person views the church, treats his family, and shares his faith. These tools and others can help us to determine the health of one’s spiritual vision.

No doubt, that during your eye exam, the optometrist asked you, “Which is better, A or B?” The spiritual diagnostician might ask, “Are you looking backward or forward?” Looking in the rearview mirror focuses on the past mistakes and failures, instead of future possibilities. The Apostle Paul states in Phil. 3:13, “…Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Accept God’s forgiveness and believe the cliché, “The best is yet to come!”

Finally, the size of the vision is also very important. The Bible states in Phil 2:4 that “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If we are going to have a God-size vision, we must look beyond ourselves. One songwriter said it this way, “Let me see this world, dear Lord, as though I were looking through Your eyes.” Think about it, if Dusty Swanberg got excited about seeing what the blimp saw, Christ-followers should get even more excited abut seeing things from a heavenly perspective! Let’s try to see this world through the eyes of Christ and reach it with the love of Christ. Now that’s a God-size vision!

Dr. Gary A. Colboch is Lead Pastor at Grace Church (at 501 NE 48 St. in Pompano Beach). Contact info.: 954-421-0190 or pastor@gbcfl.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: “. . . stand ye in the ways and ye shall find rest for your soul.”

Posted on 31 January 2019 by LeslieM

Our God teaches us the things we need to know in many different ways. He is the God of Creation, and gives us the wonder we see with our eyes and feel in our souls when we look out at His world. He is the God of Order, and assures us that His world evolves exactly according to His design. He is the God of History and, although things may look bleak in the short term, the long view shows that He is in charge of the final outcome. He is the God of Love, and teaches us how to find rest in our souls by teaching us about Himself. And, to make sure we don’t misunderstand His teachings, He has given us many wonderful stories that reveal Himself to us. The story of the Wedding at Cana is such a story.

We have all read the story of how the wine was about to run out before the end of the wedding festivities and how this would have been a great embarrassment to the bridegroom. So what was our Lord’s response to this situation? He merely took jugs of water and miraculously turned them into jugs of wine! We learn something wonderful about our Lord’s character in the way He reacted to the young bridegroom’s predicament. We learn that our Lord knows, and is sympathetic to, what takes place in our lives and, when our best interests will be served, He will come to our assistance.

The next thing we learn about the character of our Lord has a lot to do with where the miraculous event at Cana happened — it happened at a wedding. We see our Lord perfectly at ease at such an event. He was no killjoy! Why? Because our Lord had a missionary spirit and He loved to share in the joy and happiness of all the people He encountered. Someone a lot smarter than me once said, “More souls will be led to heaven by people who have heaven on their faces then by those who have hell in their looks.”

And then, we learn something about the character of our Lord from the place in which the miracle happened. It happened in a home, a humble honest home in a tiny village in the Galilee. It did not happen at some great state event or in the presence of a vast crowd of people, or within the walls of a royal palace. Our Lord chose to be among simple people, in an ordinary home, to show us the side of His character that honors the places we call home, the places where nothing but our best is good enough – either for our families or for the friends we invite to the places where we live. Our Lord showed us the side of His character that wants to be one with us in our bodies, in our homes, and in all our days.

The story of the Wedding at Cana is a miracle story about something our Lord did at one time in Galilee but is doing again and again to this very day. It is a story that teaches us that when our Lord comes into our lives and reveals his divine character of joy, humility, understanding and love – he brings a miraculous new quality into our lives. And what do you and I get out of this story? Saint John tells us, “If you want a new life, then become a follower of our Lord, and there will come a change in your life which will be like turning water into wine.

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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CLERGY CORNER: Pursuing Peace

Posted on 23 January 2019 by LeslieM

The subject of peace is a recurring headline in the news of our day. Every modern president, including the current one, has tried to be the arbiter of harmony in the Middle East among antagonistic nations. And because nearly every peace accord that has ever been established has eventually been broken, peace, peacemaking and peacekeeping will always be in our news broadcasts, in the newspapers, and in our conversations. Interestingly, some of the instruments of our attempts at peace have been symbols usually associated with violence. Civil War army pistols were referred to as peacemakers and the military even named a missile ‘peacemaker.’

The role of United Nations Peacekeeping forces, as noted on their website, is to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace. Comprised of civilian, police, and military personnel, peacekeepers are additionally charged with assisting in political processes, reforming judicial systems, training law enforcement and police forces, disarming and reintegrating former combatants, and supporting the return of internally displaced persons and refugees. In recent years, however, reports from around the world have implicated peacekeepers themselves with criminal behavior, abuse and oppression in strife-torn countries.

Recent public clashes between groups representing opposing racial, political and ideological views have put a spotlight on the divides that still plague American society. Some of them have had deadly consequences evidencing an increase in the propensity towards violence. One of the regrettable consequences of social media is that words and images can quickly stir up strife. This proves that harmony, if it is achieved, should never be taken for granted but must always be watchfully maintained.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raised the issue of peacemaking, and probably shocked His audience that was accustomed to social and religious sectarian conflict. Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t get along very well. Publicans were a hated group and considered traitors for collecting taxes on behalf of the Roman government. The Law of Moses demanded an eye for an eye, blood for blood and life for a life. But Jesus offered a radical new perspective on conflict: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God(Matthew 5:9).

This week, we observed the celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a proponent of peace. Whether questioning the nation’s involvement in the Vietnam war and the quest for nuclear supremacy or pricking the public conscience to address injustice, there could be no doubt about what he believed. His preferred tactic for confronting the evils of racism was non-violent protest. Recognizing the greater power of words over weapons, he masterfully challenged America to consider her ways. Concerning peace, some of his powerful statements are enshrined in public memorials that inspire emerging generations to brotherhood and harmony: “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” “Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace.” “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

For his efforts, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He is regarded as the champion of the civil rights movement and is celebrated as one of America’s greatest citizens. His actions also fulfilled the qualifications Jesus identified in order to be considered a son of God. In a world where there is more that we have in common than in difference, it’s time for us to unite in brotherhood and harmony and make the pursuit of peace a clear objective. Only then can we expect to be called the sons of God.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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CLERGY CORNER: Get on the field…

Posted on 17 January 2019 by LeslieM

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.Matthew 16:24-25 NRSV

The college football championship is behind us. We are in the midst of NFL playoffs and in a few weeks the Super Bowl will be watched by millions. Even people who do not regularly watch football will be watching the Super Bowl.

Fanfare is a multi-billion dollar business. People spend a lot of time and money following their team. And, I must admit, I am a fan as well. There is something that does get under my skin. I know it is small and seemingly insignificant. When a fan uses the word “we” when she or he is talking about their favorite team.

Let me give you an example. I will use my favorite team as an example. I see a person wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey on a Sunday afternoon. I ask: “Who are the Vikings playing?” She answered: “We are playing the Packers.”

Clearly, I knew what she meant and I am certain that she wouldn’t appreciate a reaction like this: “I didn’t know you played for the Vikings. I just thought you were a fan.”

I say this because there is a big difference between someone who puts on a jersey to watch a football game and someone who puts on a jersey to play the game. I can say that fanfare is painless and football is painful but fans would be inclined to say: “That interception was painful.” I can assure you, the one who threw the interception was in much more pain.

Sports can serve as a great metaphor. Jesus calls us to discipleship and discipleship is much more than fanfare. A fan stays in the comfortable stadium seats or an armchair in the living room in front of a big screen TV. The player is on the field enduring a lot of abuse. We are not called to the bleachers; we are called to the field. Discipleship is not a “spectator sport.”

Churches have a tendency of measuring their success based upon fanfare. How successful is your ministry? “I will take a head count and let you know.”

I challenged a congregation I once served: “Do you want to ride the bandwagon or build it?” Fans come and fans go. Loyalties wax and wane. Fans jump from bandwagon to bandwagon.

Discipleship is hard work. But when I consider the love that God has for his people and when I consider the price God was willing to pay for me, discipleship is the most appropriate response.

Enjoy the end of the season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Before you comment on the person on the field, consider his commitment and consider the pain he endures. We are called to something greater than fanfare and, here is the good news. When we endure the battle we will emerge as champions.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: It’s time for new things

Posted on 10 January 2019 by LeslieM

It is a new year and that is always a good time for us to evaluate our lives and all the things we like and do not like that is a part of our lives. I am so grateful that God loves me enough to allow me to start over whenever I mess up and make a mistake. With God, I do not have to wait until New Years Eve to start over or to start something new in my life. God allows me to start new every morning if need be. Some things in life we want to (or need to) change are easy and we have no problem at all making the change. However, we all know that there are some things in life that are very difficult to change in our lives. Some things in life feel like we have been struggling with for years but, we can do it. God will give us the help we need to become victorious over things that we may tend to struggle with and have a hard time changing or letting go.

Philippians 4:13

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. NLT

If I can encourage you to do anything different this year, it would be to go to church, to read your Bible, and to pray and talk to God. If you already do those things, then I want to encourage you to do those things a little more and also at the same time encourage someone else to join you. I know at times we do not like change but I think that change can be exciting and fun. We are very thrilled about changes at our church starting in January. Right now we have church services on Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. and Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. One other thing you can do this year would be to get involved with community service projects right here in Deerfield Beach. Here at CLF Church, we will be feeding the homeless the first Saturday of every month. We also help people with code violations the second Saturday of every month. We even have a one-time emergency assistance food pantry to help people that find themselves going through a hard time financially. It is always exciting when God adds something to your life and I am looking forward to our community outreaches this year. I love our Sunday church services as well because I am always thrilled to meet new people and to have a great experience with God and having Him change lives, help people with hurts, and to introduce the God I know to some people that maybe do not know Him. Please pray for us as we pray for you. I want to pray the Bible verse below over your life and I believe that with God’s help you can do the things that you know you need to do and have wanted to do in your life.

Ephesians 3:16

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. NLT

Tony Guadagnino is the pastor at Christian Love Fellowship Church, located at 801 SE 10 St., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-428-8980 or visit www.clfministries.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: Motivation

Posted on 03 January 2019 by LeslieM

The great Jewish thinker, Maimonides, wrote in the 12th century: “Caring for the health and well-being of the body is one of the ways of serving G d.” And he immediately explains why: “One is unable to think clearly and comprehend truth if he is unwell.”

If your mind is cloudy, you may lack moral clarity to know what’s right. While battling with illness, we may not find the stamina to battle the ills of the world. That’s why we need to look after our bodies. A healthy body is not in itself our life’s purpose; it helps us fulfill our purpose. It is a vehicle that transports us towards goodness, but it is not the destination.

Jewish tradition provides no excuse for being unhealthy. On the contrary, it gives the best reason possible to live healthy: life has meaning and purpose, and each day is precious. Only if life has meaning is it worth taking care of. The risks of high cholesterol, heavy smoking and drug use are a concern only to one who values life. The threat of a shorter lifespan means nothing to someone who sees life as pointless.

We are the healthiest generation in recent history, and our life expectancy is reaching biblical proportions. This means we have more time and energy to fulfill our purpose — to elevate our corner of the world, and tip the scales towards true goodness.

Are you lacking the “motivation” to work out? Have personal trainers, buying exercise class cards, paying for a monthly gym membership and posting motivational quotes on your refrigerator not worked? Are you feeling guilty? Fear not! Perhaps a spiritual approach to working out can get you going. Deeper motivation and insight into the spiritual value of fitness can elevate your experience of working out, which will help you develop a positive relationship with it.

Your body is valuable — and not entirely yours

You were created by a power greater than yourself. Your body is not yours; it is divine “property” entrusted to your care and responsibility. Your body is, therefore, sacred. Thus, working out and keeping your body healthy is not just good for you; it is a critical component in your obligation of protecting and maintaining the treasured gift you were entrusted with: your body. Just as you are charged with protecting and preserving your environment and definitely not harming it, you must also not take your own body for granted. It is your cosmic responsibility to treat your body with respect in every way, which includes getting regular exercise.

Working out helps you to live a meaningful life

When you are healthy, you can concentrate on the things that are important to you. Most significantly, a sound body allows you to focus on your soul, enabling you to fulfill your divine mission in the world and live a meaningful life. Just as the body needs exercise, sleep, proper nutrition, and occasional vitamins or medicine, the soul needs nourishment. This nourishment includes an awareness and connection to a transcendent power, and a unique purpose in life. It’s important that your physical fitness have a spiritual component — an appreciation of the higher purpose of maintaining good health.

Exercise

When exercising think about your body as a sacred entity: You are fine tuning the “vehicle” of your soul’s journey on earth.

Happy New Year and good luck keeping your resolutions.

Special Thanks to my friend and colleague Rabbi Simon Jacobson from Meaningful Life Center — A great source of meditation and information from a Torah perspective.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: The greatest gift

Posted on 26 December 2018 by LeslieM

The custom of exchanging gifts during Christmas has long been a part of the season’s charm, and many retailers aggressively promote their products as the best and greatest gifts for friends and loved ones. Everything from the latest electronic devices to gift certificates, cars, jewelry and clothing are often touted as must-have items for those on your list. The reality is that in the days immediately after Christmas, many of those gifts are going to be returned in exchange for something else. What may seem like a great gift from the perspective of the giver may not be valued as such in the eyes of the receiver.

Over 2000 years ago, the world received a gift unlike any other. In the insignificant and humble confines of a manger, God unveiled the depths of His love in the person of Jesus. More than an act in time, it was a statement in eternity. Better than a solution to a problem, it was the answer to man’s condition. Much more than a mere present, it was heaven’s gift for earth’s need. In John 3:16, Jesus explained it this way, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

In this, we see the greatest love. History and literature are comprised of many supposed great love stories: Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Sampson and Delilah, Brad and Angelina. But none of them could ever be the greatest love, for they were all conditional and temporary. The Bible represents God’s love as unconditional and eternal. What about the greatest gift? Would that be money, diamonds, status or influence? Many would readily accept such gifts, but would they bring lasting satisfaction? Jesus is God’s only Son who made the ultimate sacrifice, His life, for mankind. There’s no greater gift.

Years ago, during her talk show, Oprah Winfrey was preparing to give away brand new cars to her studio audience. Her staff carefully selected the most deserving from the thousands of letters that were submitted. The audience on that day was there by special invitation only. The greatest invitation, however, is seen in God’s offer to “whoever.” His gift is available to all. Those who were chosen to receive new cars from Oprah had to meet certain criteria. The stipulation was that they had to be without a car, or badly in need of a new one and financially unable to purchase it on their own. The greatest stipulation though, comes from God. He only requires us to believe in His Son.

Our society is hooked on the idea of exemptions. IRS exemptions, diplomatic immunity, special privileges and duty-free status are advantages that we treasure. God offers the greatest exemption in sparing those who believe in His Son from spiritual death or eternal separation from Himself. The Bible teaches that eternal punishment awaits the wicked and those who reject God’s gift. Believers are promised the greatest benefit, however. We all know the advantage of a good insurance policy, paid vacations, performance bonuses and stock options when considering employment offers. We seek to get the most benefit out of our decisions and actions in life. God promises everlasting life to those who accept His gift. Eternity will be experienced and enjoyed with Him.

Whatever gifts you have been given this Christmas, embrace them and appreciate the expressions of love from those who gave to you. Consider God’s great gift as well and embrace all that it provides. Keep in mind that our gifts to each other will only bring satisfaction for this life, and only for a time. God’s great gift, however, will affect both this life and the next. His alone is the greatest gift, revealing the greatest love, providing the greatest invitation and greatest stipulation, and offering the greatest exemption and greatest benefit. Who wouldn’t want that? Peace!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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CLERGY CORNER: Prepare — Advent is here

Posted on 19 December 2018 by LeslieM

Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

Mark 6:31a (ESV)

It is a happy time of the year. With Chanukah, Christmas, and friends and families getting together, December is a month we look forward to. For children, it is the “happiest time of the year.” And I hope that you all are having a happy December.

Along with the happiness of December comes the holiday preparation. We have cards to write, presents to buy, cookies to bake, meals to cook and various parties for work, for school, among neighbors, families and friends. It is busy. And, in the business of December, we need to take a break.

For many Christian traditions, the period of time between Dec. 1 and Christmas is called Advent. Advent is also a time of preparation, but a different kind of preparation. Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus. Whether it be in the manger or in his glory, Advent is a season of preparation.

When we greet each other and ask “Are you ready?” Our answers usually are “The cards are written, the presents are bought, the cookies are baked, the parties are scheduled, yes, I am prepared.” Advent asks this question: “Are you ready for Jesus?” A fair response to this question is another question: “How do I prepare for the coming of Jesus?”

At Zion and many other Christian churches, we prepare for Jesus with worship. We hold an additional worship service during the middle of the week during Advent and we call this our Advent Vespers service. A vespers service is a quiet, contemplative worship experience with dim lights, candles, singing and prayer.

I remember introducing Advent Vespers to a congregation I previously served and the response I received was “Oh, great, another thing to put on my calendar.”

I found this response to be revealing. First, it tells me that our typical schedule is cluttered during December. We have a tendency to say yes to every invitation. It is alright to say no every once in a while. You have to make time. Nobody hands it to you on a silver platter.

Second, it tells me that holiday preparations have eclipsed “Holy Day” preparations. Not only do we need to make time for family, we need to make time for God.

Third, we have treated worship as an obligation as opposed to a privilege. It is a privilege to serve the Lord. We worship not because we have to, but because we want to.

Taking all of these things in mind, I realized that I need to change my approach. So, I said during the announcements: “Consider this an opportunity to retreat from the hustle and bustle of December.” While December exhausts us, Advent replenishes us. We move away from the noise of shoppers and piped in music at the mall to quiet and contemplative worship. We move away from the bright and blinking lights along the boulevard to dim lighting and candles. In every way, Advent is a break from the craziness of December, and people who have attended our Advent Vespers service have thanked me because they need that retreat in the middle of the week.

Advent isn’t the only time that we need to take a break. For those of us who observe Advent, it is a scheduled time for quiet contemplation and reflection — not a holy obligation but a holy privilege.

It is my prayer that when Christmas comes and goes and the New Year approaches that you schedule quality time with God. Take a break from the world and set yourself apart, as Jesus did.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: We like to give

Posted on 12 December 2018 by LeslieM

It is that time of the year when we give gifts to others. It is the time of year when we do not think about ourselves but others and what they want or need. God knew in His unlimited wisdom that we would need help with our lives. Not only do I find that I need God’s help. I have also come to realize that I need His help every day of my life. God does not always give me what I want, but He always gives me what I need.

ROMANS 12:6-8

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

NLT

Our goal in serving God is to be able to continue to serve Him throughout our whole lives. Growing up in church, I always heard the phrase, “stay full of the things of God.” It took me a long time to understand what that actually meant. When my car runs, it uses gas and I have to fill it up when it gets empty so it will continue to run and I can use it. So, when I give out things that God has blessed me with in life I need to find spiritual things in my life so I can fill back up the same way I fill my car with gas. The more love, compassion, peace and hope we give out, then the more we need to stay full of the things of God. We can read the bible, pray, go to church, or even sing hymns and worship songs to fill back up. What a great series of events to experience in our lives. We can continually give and receive.

When you get a gift, either you like it and use it or you do not like it and hide it somewhere. Gifts from the Father are to be used and not wasted or just put on the shelf. Gifts from God come as He wills (any gift at any time) for the profit of all. You should not only welcome the gifts from God but also expect them in your life. We all know it is better to give than to receive. However, if we do not receive, then we have nothing to give. We have a responsibility to use the spiritual gifts in our own lives. God has blessed our lives with many different gifts and there are many people that can use them. You have the gifts, you might as well use them instead of letting them go to waste. The good thing is that no one person has all the gifts. It takes many different parts to make one complete church body. Gifts do not clash or compete but they all work together to serve the same goal or purpose. Giving gifts is not about serving your agenda and making you happy. It is about serving others and bringing joy to others. We can all show others love, mercy, compassion and kindness. May God bless your holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tony Guadagnino is the pastor at Christian Love Fellowship Church, located at 801 SE 10 St., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-428-8980 or visit www.clfministries.org.

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