| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: The Story of Jerry Sternin

Posted on 05 July 2018 by LeslieM

I am going to tell you today the story about Jerry Sternin, one man who is responsible for saving the lives of tens of thousands of children, not a generation ago, but on our very own watch. (He died in 2008.)

When Jerry Sternin arrived in Vietnam, the welcome was rather chilly. The government had invited his employer, “Save the Children,” the international organization that helps kids in need, to open an office in the country in 1990 to fight malnutrition. But the foreign minister let Sternin know that not everyone in the government appreciated his presence. The minister told him, “You have six months to make a difference.”

Sternin had traveled to the country with his wife and 10-year-old son. None of them spoke the language.

We were like orphans at the airport when we arrived in Vietnam,” he said. “We had no idea what we were going to do.”

Sternin had minimal staff and meager resources. And he knew that nobody wanted him.

The conventional wisdom was that malnutrition was the result of an intertwined set of problems. Sanitation was poor; poverty was nearly universal and clean water was not readily available. The rural people tended to be ignorant about nutrition.

That analysis was, in Sternin’s judgment, TBU — true but useless.

Millions of kids can’t wait for those issues to be addressed,” he said.

If addressing malnutrition required ending poverty, purifying water and building sanitation systems, then it would never happen — especially in six months, with virtually no money to spend.

Ignoring the experts, Sternin traveled to a local village and called together all the village’s mothers. He asked for their assistance in finding ways to nourish their kids better, and they agreed to help. As the first step, they went out in teams to weigh and measure every child in the village. Sadly, 64 percent of the children were malnourished.

He asked them, “Did you find any very, very poor kids who are bigger and healthier than the typical child?”

The women nodded and said, “Có, có, có.” (Yes, yes, yes.)

Then let’s go see what they’re doing.”

Sternin’s strategy was to search the community for bright spots. If some kids were healthy, despite their disadvantages, then that meant something important. Malnourishment was not inevitable.

Armed with that understanding, the mothers then observed the homes of the bright-spot kids, and, alert for any deviations, they noticed some unexpected habits. For one thing, bright-spot moms were feeding their kids four meals a day (using the same amount of food as other moms but spreading it across four servings rather than two). The larger twice-a-day meals eaten by most families turned out to be a mistake for children, because their malnourished stomachs couldn’t process that much food at one time.

The style of eating was also different. Most parents believed that their kids understood their own needs and would feed themselves appropriately from a communal bowl. But the healthy kids were fed more actively — by hand if necessary. The children were even encouraged to eat when they were sick, which was not the norm. What is more, these parents were washing the hands of their children before eating.

Most interesting, the healthy kids were eating different kinds of food. The bright-spot mothers tossed in sweet-potato greens, which were considered a low-class food, to their children’s dishes. They also put into the kid’s rice tiny crabs which they found in the Vietnam rice paddies and were considered adult food.

These dietary improvisations, however strange or “low class,” were doing something precious; adding sorely needed protein and vitamins to the children’s diet. Without knowing it, these parents provided important nutrients for their children: protein, iron and calcium.

Jerry Sternin refused to make a formal announcement, knowing that it would be futile. Instead the community designed a program in which 50 malnourished families, in groups of 10, would meet at a hut each day and prepare food together. The families were required to bring sweet-potato greens and crab. The mothers washed their hands with soap and cooked the meal together.

Dozens of experts had analyzed the situation in Vietnam, agonizing over the problems—the water supply, the sanitation, the poverty, the ignorance. They’d written position papers and research documents and development plans, but they hadn’t changed a thing.

Six months after Sternin’s visit to the Vietnamese village, 65 percent of the kids were better nourished, and they stayed that way. Within a short time, the program reached 2.2 million Vietnamese people in 265 villages. Malnutrition in Vietnam was diminished by 85 percent!

Today we face a battle where children are starving right here in America. Not physically but spiritually and morally!

We must find the bright spot kids in our society, learn from them and do everything in our power to stop the starving children. We must devote ourselves consistently to our children’s health and well-being. By studying each child and giving them what they need individually, we will change the future for our children.

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 Quest for Peace

Posted on 28 June 2018 by LeslieM

The recent high profile deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have put a renewed spotlight on depression and its connection to mental illness. In the wake of their suicides, it was revealed that both of them were battling depression compounded by an inability to overcome it. It is reported that major depression is a mental illness that affects more than 16 million adults every year. More concerning in is the fact that half of those affected never seek treatment for depression. We should encourage those who seem unable to emerge from the gloom and sadness that threatens all of us to seek a professional counselor for the help that they need. Modern medicines have been developed to adequately address the brain’s malfunctions and help people to enjoy a normal life.

Mental illness is only one side of the issue of depression. However, far too many people are succumbing to depression due to an inability to properly manage their emotions when life becomes overwhelming. It’s not that they are mentally deficient, but that they’ve bought into the idea that money, fame, possessions or achievement will give them satisfaction. The pressure to have more, to accomplish unrealistic expectations or to simply keep up with the proverbial “Joneses” is a never ending treadmill. Worry, anxiety and frustration will push one over the edge if not tempered by a realistic perspective and proper priorities. When what we can have or accomplish becomes our sole purpose for existence. We set ourselves up for discouragement when they fail to satisfy. Someone once remarked that Alexander the Great died in discouragement, having no more kingdoms to conquer.

We have a natural inclination toward a peaceful, balanced existence free from conflict and disorder. Maturity means that we are able to enjoy the good in life, survive and learn from the bad, and to realize that adversity and pain are as likely as joy and comfort. A good mental disposition helps us to navigate the varying landscapes of our progress through life. The peace that seems elusive is possible with the proper attitude and perspective. Isaiah 26:3 offers the Biblical approach to attaining true peace. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

First, note that God is the primary agent in the verse. Three times, He is referenced as the object around which the action is centered. He both supplies and maintains peace for those who set their minds on Him and trust Him. Next, man is the primary beneficiary. He is the one upon whom God graciously bestows the gift of peace. God makes available what man cannot attain on his own: true peace, perfect peace or peace-peace, as written in the original Hebrew text. The apostle Paul characterizes it “as a peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Then, the verse reveals that peace is the primary benefit. Among the many things we seek and desire, peace is paramount. We learn very quickly in life how weak and vulnerable we are. We lack complete control of our existence and are subject to circumstances beyond our control. Peace with God is necessary to finding peace with others and with ourselves. Thankfully, God gives us peace when we subject our thoughts, minds and lives to Him. Finally, trust is the primary condition that makes peace possible. The ability to believe, to have faith in and to rely upon God is required to access His gift of peace. When we give up control of our lives and turn to Him in humble faith, we have the assurance of divine assistance. God, not ourselves, must be placed at the center of our universe. Only then will we avoid the chaos, frustration and depression that follow a narcissistic and selfish existence. In this world of uncertainty and turmoil, look to God and embrace His perfect 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: My Favorite Title

Posted on 21 June 2018 by LeslieM

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29 NRSV)

On the day of my graduation from Seminary, I earned a degree, Master of Divinity, M.Div. for short, and I was able to put these letters behind my name.

On the day I was ordained I received a title, Minister of Word and Sacrament. I was able to put the title Reverend before my name, Rev. for short.

And people call me Pastor Jeff, which is what I prefer to any fancy title, and it works for me. But I must confess, there is another title I wear with pride.

When my children were born I became a dad. I remember when I dropped them off at preschool before I went to church, and their tiny little classmates would come up to me to show me a project or say hi and they called me “Rachel’s Dad” or “Nathan’s Dad.” For instance “Hey, ‘Nathan’s Dad,’ look at what I just did.” My heart was warmed by their cuteness and sweetness. But I loved the fact that they didn’t refer to me by any name or title, but simply by my connection to their friend, my child. At that moment, I wasn’t Reverend, Pastor, Minister or Master of Divinity, I was simply “Rachel’s Dad” or “Nathan’s Dad,” and that warmed my heart more than any other title that was given to me.

With the title “Dad” comes a job and as challenging as the ministry can be, being a dad has its challenges too. It requires an awful lot from us and pushes us to our limits. And when we come through these challenges, the love that keeps our family together gets even stronger.

I ask myself the question: “Can I love God more than my kids?” The Bible tells me that I must be willing to forsake even my own family. Frankly, I don’t know if I can do that. I know that this challenge pushes me to my human limits but the challenge is still there.

And then I realized something about God. He, too, has many titles and names. Adonai, Elohim, El Shadai are just a few names/titles of God. But Jesus teaches us to call upon in prayer with the words “Our Father.” And when Jesus called upon God in prayer he used the word “Abba,” roughly translated, “Daddy.”

I wonder if God’s heart warms when he hears his children call upon Him in prayer. I wonder if “Jesus’ Dad” is a title that filled Him with joy. I know that any God who would prefer to have us call him “Father,” “Daddy” or “Dad” must love us the way we love our children. And considering the magnitude of God, that is a lot of love.

As a Christian and a father, I realize that I am not forsaking my children when I love God more, on the contrary. When I love God, he loves me back. And the abundance of God’s love spills upon everyone who is near.

As a human being, I have limits. God, on the other hand, does not. And when my love is tested and pushed to the limits, I can tap into a source of love that is infinite.

As a Christian dad, I find that God’s love spills upon my children every time we pray, every time we worship, every time I am in their midst.

I know that Father’s Day can be a challenging day. I was fortunate to have a wonderful dad and I hope his legacy lives on in me as I am fortunate enough to be a dad. Not everyone is as fortunate as I and I realize this.

We have a Father in God who loves us very much regardless of our fortunes and misfortunes. He calls us to call upon Him in prayer as Father, Daddy or Dad. And, when he loves us, it spills and blesses all who stand in our midst.

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: Love of a father

Posted on 14 June 2018 by LeslieM

Why do we love? Do we love because of what we can get out of a relationship or because of what we can give into a relationship? God, our Father, has given us good examples of what a loving father is to be like. We have a Father in Heaven who loves us unconditionally and gives us wonderful gifts. We have a Father who cares for our pains, trials and triumphs. God tells us not to worry and takes care of our needs. God longs to hear from you, His child. Don’t miss your chance to do the very same thing for your Father in Heaven, who loved you so much He sent his Son to die for you.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask Him?Matthew 7:11 (KJV)

I don’t know about you, but Father’s Day really conjures up a lot of conflicting emotions for me. I am blessed to be the father of wonderful children. I am also equally blessed for having a good father in my life. I was not the best kid and I was not the worst kid either. While others judged and even pronounced me a failure, “My Dad” just kept on loving me. I attempted to run from that love, but like the “hound of heaven,” he would not let me get away. His influence in my life cannot be overstated. “My Dad” — he really loved me. And, by the way, I turned out okay (crazy, but okay)! I really don’t know if we can love our kids too much. But, I do know that love needs to be expressed and valued. Your children — regardless of their lot in life or their adherence to your desires — need to know your love for them is constant and secure. You can love them and not support the lifestyle they have.

The Lord is like a Father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.Psalm 103:13 (NLT)

So, if you are a father, turn the tables on your kids on Father’s Day. When they tell you how special you are, make sure they know how you feel about them. You might even say, “Son/daughter, I love you!” There is no doubt in my mind that my dad knows how much I love him. It is also nice to say why sometimes. Some of you may not have a pleasant memory of your father or you might not have any memories at all. This may be the time to start down the road to forgiveness and/or reconciliation, or it may be a chance to thank others in your life that have offered fatherly wisdom to you and tell them why you appreciate them. I can’t help but feel slightly convicted, for when have I shared this kind of a moment with my Heavenly Father? Maybe your prayers often reflect more of what you want and less of how wonderful the Lord is, or more of what you need and less of how thankful you are for what you have.

Father’s Day is almost here. Plan to tell your father why you love him and appreciate him. Also, if you have children, make sure you tell them that you love them and why.

Tony Guadagnino is the pastor for Christian Love Fellowship Church, 801 SE 10 St., Deerfield Beach. www.clfdeerfield.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: Religion bad for humanity?

Posted on 07 June 2018 by LeslieM

Not long ago, I invited a friend to Rosh Hashanah services. He declined the invitation, saying that he would not attend a synagogue, since “Religion is the cause of all wars, and the world would be at peace if it weren’t for religion.”

I asked him, what do you want from the Jewish religion? We are not sending gunmen to gun down at point blank civilian couples who have children waiting for them at home? His response was that all religions speak in the name of G-d, and that created all conflicts in history.

My friend meant well, but he is wrong. Rejecting Judaism because you believe in world peace and tolerance is like refusing to enter a Japanese restaurant because you love sushi. It just doesn’t make sense.

War comes naturally to people. It existed long before any religion. The two greatest killers in history—Stalin and Hitler — were not religious and did what they did not in the name of religion, but in the name of a secular utopian system they believed in. Conflict is inherent to human nature. We are selfish, possessive, envious, competitive and insecure. Cruelty is part of human nature.

Peace, on the other hand, is not natural to the human condition. It had to be taught and learned. And it was a religious idea.

The first and most powerful vision of world peace was presented to mankind by the prophets of ancient Israel. They predicted a time when “one nation will not lift a sword against another nation, and they will no longer learn to wage war.” In a world that saw war as an inevitable fact of life, the Jewish religion introduced a radical new concept: that war is ultimately undesirable and peace is the ideal state for which to strive.

Without religion, we would find other things to fight about, like parking spots and noise from the neighbors. We would fight over territory, wealth, race, tribalism, ethnic pride. But without religion, world peace would not have entered the human vocabulary. Our dream of world peace is biblically inspired. Ideals do not live in bubbles. Like people, they need parents to give birth to them and a home environment to sustain them. Peace without religion is homeless. It was Judaism that gave birth to the vision of world peace and still provides a framework to implement that vision.

True, religion has been used, and continues to be used, by many as a pretext for war. But this does not invalidate all religion, just as when football players brawl, it does not invalidate the game of football. Ridding the world of all religion would not end war any more than abolishing football would brawls. Mengele’s horrific medical experiments in Auschwitz, does not invalidate all medicine. It was he who used medicine to torture innocent people. In fact, religion still provides the strongest argument for peace between people: that we were all created by the same G-d. Without this belief, is there anything that really unites us all? Maybe we are essentially different? Maybe we are not one? What for Thomas Jefferson was “self evident,” may be not evident for others?

What unites us all is that we are created by one G-d who conferred upon each person infinite dignity. The more I recognize G-d, the more I recognize the oneness of humanity and all of creation, because it is the G-dliness in us which makes us one. If Darwin taught that existence was essentially a war between natural forces and only the “fittest” survived (“survival of the fittest”), Judaism taught that there is an inherent symmetry between everything in the universe. The more I am entrenched in my ego, the more I am separated from people. The more I am one with G-d, the more loving I am toward people, because it is in their face that I encounter myself, my Divine Self, which is part of your Divine Self. If I am truly one with G-d, I can never ignore the cry of a fellow Jew, and of a fellow human being.

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: . . . and that’s what mothers do

Posted on 31 May 2018 by LeslieM

Yes, I know Mother’s Day was a week or so ago, but it’s never too late, or the time is never inappropriate, to write a few words about our mothers. Their day brings to mind past memories and present realities like few other days; some bring joy and some bring sorrow. However we may think of our mothers, one thing is for sure, no matter how many mothers there are in the world, each one was made special by our God. The pages of his Bible are filled with a wonderful assortment of mothers whose stories invite us to take another look at our own mothers who taught us with their tears, with their humor, and with their love.

First, our mothers are often the storytellers in our families. They may not write anything down but they make certain our family heritage, traditions and beliefs are orally transmitted from generation to generation. The world of the Bible was a male-dominated world, but just beneath the surface was a world in which women played a vital teaching role. We see this in Second Timothy when Paul tells us that Timothy, from childhood, was taught by his mother and grandmother. This custom continues to the present day. We can experience the beauty of this custom if we listen to Dvořák’s Songs My Mother Taught Me. No English translation of the lyrics does justice to the original German, which tells the story of a mother, who tearfully tells her children the stories her mother taught her. I recommend Renée Flemings’ glorious rendition.

Second, our mothers often use humor to teach us, when they can’t get through to us, in any other way. The Bible tells the story of a woman who came to Jesus and sought a cure for her daughter who was plagued by an evil spirit. She was turned away because she was a Canaanite and not a child of Israel. She was undeterred and obtained the blessing she sought by using a somewhat humorous tactic. She replied to Jesus, “Yes Lord, but even family pets eat the crumbs that fall from the table of children.”

This story reminds me of an interview between a reporter and a prominent politician. The reporter asked who made the important decisions in the family. Without a moment’s hesitation, the politician responded that he made all the important decisions; but then, he looked questioningly at his wife and asked: “But honey, why in 25 years of marriage, have you never asked me to make any important decisions?” Her only response was a sly grin. As far as that Canaanite woman is concerned, I don’t know who her husband was, but, like the politician, he must have been putty in her hands.

Lastly, and in this, our mothers sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. They are charged by God to model the love He brought into the world. There is no end of instances in the Bible that show the primacy of love, whether to our God, our neighbor or ourselves. But on Mother’s Day, it is a good way to honor our mothers, by looking at the ways they modeled love for us. I remember a number of years ago we planned a family vacation at a lovely resort. We told our two girls they could each bring a friend to keep them company. When I was ready to zip up our suitcases, my wife came with her arms filled with stuffed animals for the girls. I was floored, “Darling, where do you think we can pack all those stuffed animals?” I don’t remember the details, but when we got to the resort and opened the suitcases, out popped those stuffed animals. You see, my darling had repacked everything until she found room. She knew what she was doing and she was right. She knew the girls would be sleeping in a strange place, with strange shadows and sounds, and would need something familiar to cuddle when they went to bed. I packed with my head and with reason, my darling packed with her heart and with love . . . she was a mother . . . and that’s what mothers do.

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: Commencement Inspiration

Posted on 24 May 2018 by LeslieM

I was privileged last week to attend two commencement events at which the speakers offered inspiring messages for the graduating students. A recurrent theme among the speeches was the fact that we can accomplish far more than what some may expect based upon perceived limitations or barriers. Just because you may be at a disadvantage doesn’t mean that you cannot succeed. A challenge will demand one of two responses from you: fear and resignation or courage and determination. We get to choose and thereby control what the outcome will be.

One of the events was a graduation ceremony for students involved in an entrepreneurial program that is designed to give them the necessary skills to bring their product or service ideas to reality. The keynote speaker was impressive. She has been suffering from seizures since childhood but has not allowed it to stop her from excelling in business and entrepreneurship, leading several organizations, and winning awards along the way. She currently serves as president of a foundation that aims to help children succeed in school and in life. She encouraged the aspiring entrepreneurs to be mindful of others as they strove for their dreams.

The other event was a high school commencement at a packed Palm Beach County Fairgrounds auditorium. One of the valedictorians challenged her fellow graduates to not allow anyone to limit their potential. She referenced a fellow student who was told early on that his unfamiliarity with the English language would prevent him from graduating. That student did indeed graduate, with honors! The valedictorian drew inspiration from her grandfather, who had come alone to America as a young man from Panama. He worked hard to establish himself and was able to produce a family and pass along strong values of faith, commitment and dedication. He would have been proud of his ivy-league university bound granddaughter.

It is encouraging to hear such optimism and hope directed to and arising from our youth. A steady diet of news headlines can lead to depression if you allow the world to be defined by media alone. Yes, there is evil and sadness around us, but there is far more good and joy to be found as well. Consider the laughter of an infant, the smiles of a bride and groom, or the excited chatter of graduating students. There is hope and expectation and promise all around us. The challenges that confront us should not be allowed to produce fear in us. They should serve to stimulate the courage to change the outcomes. We can do better as individuals and society, and we should strive to do better.

Jesus challenged His followers to live their lives with a focus on the good. They had turned to God and embraced His light, and, in turn, Jesus proclaimed them to be the light of the world. As they lived in simple faith and followed His instructions, they would be an example and inspiration to others. He further urged, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). God is well pleased when we seek to develop the potential that He has placed within all of us. We should all be inspired to be our best, to live our best, and to produce our best. God stands ready to assist us if we will yield to His way. The wisdom of Proverbs 37:5 advises, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2018. May God’s hand guide you, and His grace surround you as you pursue your dreams.

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: Lessons “on the course”

Posted on 17 May 2018 by LeslieM

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

I was fortunate to have within my last parish a parishioner who owned a golf shop. Not only did he line me up with a new set of clubs, but he gave me some free lessons from his computer-simulated golf course.

Jack was an accomplished golfer and it had been years since I had picked up a club, so he let me take a practice swing. I lined up on the ball, adjusted my grip and swung. I felt this wonderful sensation of a true connection. I thought to myself, “Jeff, you are a natural.” And then Jack shared with me the results. I sliced it and I sliced it good. The ball landed on a fairway alright, but not the fairway in front of me.

Then Jack adjusted my stance, my posture, my grip, my swing and then I swung. Everything about this felt awkward. There was nothing that felt right. But, when I completed my swing, Jack applauded, saying, “Congratulations, you are a chip and a put away from a par.”

I know that if I practiced and practiced, and spent a lot of time on the course, there may be a day when awkward would feel natural and natural would feel wrong. My muscle memory would be sound and I would have a completely different game. Alas, parish ministry doesn’t afford me a lot of opportunities for golf. But I never forgot that experience. When I did what felt good, it turned out to be wrong; and, when I did what felt wrong, it turned out to be right. Wouldn’t it be nice if every good action had a corresponding sensation? In life, that doesn’t always happen.

So what is a good example of this happening in life? I can paint a scenario that is all too familiar, unfortunately. There is the peaceful community disrupted by a random act of violence. Perhaps a gunman or a bomber unleashes a wrath of hatred that brings death and destruction to innocent bystanders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The perpetrator is identified and quickly becomes, in the eyes of the public, Public Enemy No 1. And, as a pastor, I know that my faith community is shaken to the core and it is obvious that the pain we are all feeling calls us to prayer.

In our tradition, we pray the prayer of the church with each petition ending with “Lord, hear our prayer.” And we pray the prayer out loud: “Lord, we pray for the victims of the most recent act of violence, for those who were killed, those who were injured, as well as their family and friends …Lord, hear our prayer … Lord, we pray for our community as we witness another act of violence. We pray for peace … Lord, hear our prayer.” And then I name the name of “Public Enemy No. 1.” I pray that God be merciful and comfort his or her family and friends in this time of crises. I can assure you, though the words “Lord, hear our prayer” are spoken, there are a few audible gulps and moans.

From the perspective of the one leading the prayers I must admit, it felt natural to pray for the victims. It did not feel natural to pray for Public Enemy No. 1. Yet, my faith dictates that this must be done. In spite of any feelings I may have, I am called to love my enemy. Like an awkward golf swing, it does not feel right but it is the right thing to do. It doesn’t feel comfortable. I must admit, if I prayed for God’s wrath to smite this perpetrator of violence it would have felt very comfortable. The problem, of course, is I would have “sliced it.”

I know that many people rely upon their feelings when they make a decision, saying or thinking, “It just felt right at the time.” Comfort can be deceiving and, oftentimes, we find ourselves facing ethical dilemmas calling us to do the right thing, not the comfortable thing.

It may not feel right to pray for our enemies, but it is the right thing to do. May God give us the strength to do the right thing, even when it doesn’t feel comfortable.

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: When we fail

Posted on 10 May 2018 by LeslieM

Something we all do every day is fail God. Even though it is the goal of every follower of God to live our lives perfectly as He did, the Bible tells us that we all sin and fall short of God’s glory. It also says that if we say we don’t sin, we are a liar. So accepting the fact that we all fail God at times, I want to focus on how we respond when we fail. Listen to me closely; you will never be able to live this life victoriously until you learn the proper response when you fail God.

The most important thing you can do when you fail is to accept responsibility for your actions. We are masters at blaming others when we fail. Man has not really changed since the Garden of Eden. When Adam failed, he blamed Eve. When God confronted Eve with her failure, she blamed the serpent. When you take responsibility for your failure, you become sorry for letting God down and go to Him with a broken heart asking for forgiveness.

None of us is immune from sin. That is why God gives us His special promise in 1 John 1:9. It tells us if we will confess our sins, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We must trust His Word, know He has forgiven us and move on to fulfill our purpose of serving and glorifying God with our lives. We are no good to God when we allow our sin to strangle us and to paralyze us.

The devil loves to use our sin against us, to hold it over our head. However, the Bible says that when God forgives us, He not only forgives, but also forgets. If God forgets, then we need to as well so that we can move forward and live victorious, productive lives for the Kingdom. Jesus tells us in John 8:44 that Satan is a liar, that he is the father of lies. When he speaks, he speaks his native language, lying. One of the lies of the devil is to use your sin against you, to tell you that you are no good. He will tell you that you are not worthy of God’s love and grace.

We try our best each day to live like Jesus. We are all faced with the temptations of this world. We are all faced with the traps the enemy lays for us. From time to time, we all fall into sin.

How we respond to our sin is critical. Running from God is a natural response, but the wrong one. We quit reading the Bible, quit praying, quit going to church, which makes us an even bigger target for the enemy. Instead of running away from God, we must run to God, accept responsibility for our actions, and have the guts to say, “I sinned.”

What I want you to understand today is not if we sin, but when we sin, what our response must be. When you fail, you must accept responsibility for your sins and ask God for forgiveness, and move forward with your life.

God has much for you to do. He has a great plan for your life. Let me assure you today that He loves you. Whatever you may have done doesn’t change that. Our failure does not change God’s love for us!

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: The Farmer

Posted on 03 May 2018 by LeslieM

A parable:

A farmer once married a princess and she moved to the farm. He was a nice man and treated her respectfully. The first day he taught her how to milk the cows; the second day, how to feed the mules; the third day, how to clean the horses. He gave her a comfortable bed near the stable, teaching her about the crow of the rooster that will awake her. Yet, his wife was miserable.

He consulted his father-in-law, the king, saying, “I am trying so hard to satisfy your daughter to no avail. She is miserable. What am I to do?”

The king responded: “You’re a fine and sincere young man. But you must understand: your wife grew in up in royalty; the life of the farm does not speak to her heart. You can’t offer her what she needs because you have no concept that it exists.”

This is a parable of the soul who married the body. The body is the peasant farmer, offering us Wall Street and condominiums and success, and power, and all other kinds of potatoes and tomatoes. Most of us live thinking that we are the peasant. That is why however much we have it is never enough … because we are feeding ourselves the wrong thing. It can be everything the peasant has ever dreamed of, but it’s still not enough because the princess has been raised on finer stuff.

Our bodies are nice and polite. They mean well. Our soul is anxious, so the body tells our souls: wait till you see what’s for breakfast. The body gives the soul the most delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, alas, we still have a void: the void of a soul yearning for something more.

So the body takes the soul on expensive cruises, on fancy vacations, builds for it fancy homes and marvelous cars, labeled designer clothing and precious jewelry. But the soul still feels a void. Because the soul grew up in royalty, the delights of the “farm” will not do the trick. The soul needs transcendence; it is searching for the Divine.

As the soul enters into a body for a lifelong “marriage,” its self-expression becomes severely limited, as it is living with a partner who does not even understand its language. And, unlike marriage, where you can run away from your husband for a few hours to get some fresh air, the soul can never leave the body to take a break; it remains confined within the body. Sometimes, like in a marriage, the soul is completely ignored.

Yet, just as in a physical marriage that it is only as a result of the unity between man and woman that they can achieve eternity, so it is with the marriage of soul and body. It is only in this world, while enclothed in the body, that the soul can transcend itself and reach heights completely impossible to reach if it would remain “single” in heaven. Only in this world, through its arduous work within and with the body, can the soul fulfill G-d’s commandments —the “children” created by the marriage of body and soul — through which it connects to G-d Himself.

And it is only on earth that we can experience transformation, completely going out of our fixed limitations and becoming a new person. In heaven, we are what we are. In earth, we can transform ourselves. An addict can experience recovery; an obnoxious self-centered man can become noble and kind; a crooked liar can become an honest human being. In this world, we can make real changes. True growth is possible.

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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