| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: “This could be the start of something big”

Posted on 29 August 2018 by LeslieM

Aretha Franklin, God rest her soul, sang many wonderful songs and one of my favorites is “This could be the start of something big.” It is certainly not one of her greatest hits, but the reason I am drawn to it is because it is a song for optimists, a song for those about to start a new and exciting adventure in their lives. There are many new starts in each of our lives – a new interest, year, job, home, town, friend, or love, and each one offers us an opportunity to use our talents in new ways and to learn new things about our world and the people we encounter.

Most of us have young people in our lives who, at this time of year, are starting a new and exciting adventure in their lives – a new school year. Now, I am the first to concede that the life lessons we learn are not all taught in our schools. My parents and grandparents had limited schooling, but they taught us many of the things we needed to know about life, family and relationships. Our schools, however, are our formal places of learning. It is in our schools that we are taught how to make a living, how the world works, how our human history progresses, and what we did, thought and created along the way, as well as what we need to know in order to co-exist, with civility, in the future of our multi-cultural and multi-ethnic world.

What should we expect of teachers when we turn our young people over to them and ask them to advance their education? When the course of study involves one of the many skilled trades that are vital to the effective functioning of our world, then the skills to be taught are obvious. If something needs to be built, teach them how to build it; if something needs to be installed, teach them how to install it; and, if something needs to be repaired, teach them how to repair it. Walt Whitman wrote of the nobility of this work and the dedication that is necessary to do it well: “I hear America singing / the carpenter, the mason, the boatman, the shoemaker, the wood-cutter and the ploughboy / each singing what belongs to him or her and to none other.”

When the course of study involves the natural world, or one of our many scientific disciplines, then a critical skill that needs to be taught, or enhanced, is the power of observation. Men like Aristotle, Copernicus, Ben Franklin and Alexander Fleming, used their powers of observation; they looked at the world, and into the heavens, and saw things differently than what their predecessors had seen. Were it not for them, we would still think the Earth is flat and that it is the center of the universe. We would still be reading by candlelight and helpless against infectious diseases. And, finally, when the course of study involves the liberal arts – religion, literature, language, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, fine arts and creative writing – the critical skill that needs to be taught is imagination. Without imagination, none of us are able to see how all our studies fit together in an operational whole.

That brings us to the most awesome gift we receive from education – the gift of curiosity, and curiosity is the responsibility of those who learn as well as those who teach. The skills of dedication, observation, imagination are all tied together by curiosity and make us lifetime learners. We become optimists with the ability to see and understand our world, and our place in it, as well as God’s will for us and the strength we need to follow Him. Learn something new every day, it “could be the start of something big.”

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: Don’t let it spoil!

Posted on 23 August 2018 by LeslieM

Damaged goods, spoiled food and a tarnished reputation each have one thing in common. That which was once purposeful and beneficial has lost its value, and become undesirable and unusable. The rise of the #MeToo movement has revealed the spoilage in character of men who were once respected by the public. Their inability to maintain integrity has caused pain, and brought shame, to their victims of harassment and abuse. Some viewed as leaders in their fields have been diminished in the public view for the numerous accusations from women, and men, who have found the courage to come forward. Many of their friends, acquaintances, business partners and fans have distanced themselves, or turned against them. They have learned the painful truth that the dirty deeds done in the dark eventually become exposed by the light.

This past week the issue hit closer to home as a grand jury report out of Pennsylvania revealed numerous instances of abuse at the hands of clergy. How tragic and disheartening when men in positions of power and influence are accused of heinous actions. How much more reprehensible when the victims are innocent and impressionable children. When the perpetrators are from the ranks of those who should be champions of morality and ethics, the pain is indescribable and the damage incalculable.

Centuries ago King Solomon made a powerful observation that speaks to this propensity. In Ecclesiastes 10:1, he noted “Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.”

Admittedly, the actions of many of the accused amount to much more than a little folly, but they perhaps began as small indiscretions and seemingly tiny desires. The point is that they resulted in spoilage of character and loss of integrity. Anyone who gives thought and expression to every desire that appeals to them will soon come to ruin. Self-control and maintenance of integrity is necessary for all of us to enjoy healthy relationships with our fellowman.

No one wants to be involved with a person they cannot trust. Despite the erosion of morality in society, the world still needs and longs for people of integrity. In a recent Leadership Retreat in which I took part, we, the students, were reminded that integrity is the essential component looked for in leaders whether they be in the military, business or the church. Dwight Eisenhower once stated that “Without (integrity), no real success is possible no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army or in an office.” And in Proverbs 11:3, it is noted that “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.”

The maintenance of our integrity begins with self-awareness. We should be honest with ourselves about ourselves. As we learned in the retreat, “A few moments of brutal honesty are worth a lifetime of self-deception.” Self-awareness should lead to self-management. What do we need to control, correct or cancel? Self-management then leads to character, competence and credibility.

It is easy to trust people who are disciplined, honest and considerate of others. The No. 1 word of the Year in 2005, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, was “Integrity.” The scandals of the day brought the issue to the forefront of the public discourse. It may well be near the top of the list in these days. King Solomon viewed it as precious and as valuable as the perfumer’s ointment.

The lesson of his observation is that we should maintain our character by guarding our integrity. We can’t allow flies to intermingle with it and cause it to putrefy. Don’t let it spoil!

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: Bringing back the harvest

Posted on 15 August 2018 by LeslieM

You shall observe the festival of harvest, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall observe the festival of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. Exodus 23:16 NRSV

The transition from summer to autumn is something we all experience. Even if we live far from the closest farm or in a place where the trees remain green and the weather remains hot, we know it is autumn because school is back in session and football is back on TV. There is an energy that comes with this change of season and we see attendance pick up in church as well.

The word autumn and fall are used interchangeably everywhere, even in places where leaves do not fall from the trees. In rural America, another word can be used in lieu of autumn or fall — harvest.

Harvest brings back memories of my youth in rural Minnesota. My town’s entire economy revolved around the single time when farmers gathered their crops. In the rural Midwest, we put the word “culture” in agriculture because our culture was so dependent on the farms that surrounded us.

During the summer, we followed the crops. I remember my grandma and grandpa, retired farmers, would hop in their car and drive out to the fields just to see how the crops were doing. In the café, you would hear people talk about crops the way some people talked about their favorite sports team.

Looks like a rough year for beans.”

How ‘bout that corn?”

Tough year for sugar beets but I have high hopes for next year.”

Even town people earned money doing work for farmers.

Harvest was a happy time. Even during difficult years, God always found a way to provide and we were grateful. We celebrated in church with worship and potluck dinners. Even though our liturgical calendar did not specify a day of celebration, we artificially inserted the harvest and, truth be told, it was right up there with Christmas and Easter. Well, not quite, but pretty close.

My kids are native Floridians. Even though Florida is every bit as agricultural as any state in the midwest, my kids grew up close to the beach and far from any fields.

My wife and I would joke: “I think they think fruits and vegetable grow in boxes in the produce section of the grocery store.” (If we didn’t make an effort to show them the contrary, they probably would have believed that).

I love the autumn with the change of routine and the slight change of weather. I love the excitement that goes with the beginning of school. Even as an adult, I love the smell of a brand new notebook or a box of crayons. I enjoy a good game of football, as much as the next guy. But I do miss the harvest. I miss the spiritual component of autumn that reminds us all that God’s providence is abundant. And I do believe that it is time to bring it back.

For our friends in the Jewish faith, the High Holidays definitely have roots in the agricultural cycle of God’s people. There is a connection between the New Year and the harvest that is scriptural. God commands his people to celebrate!

When I look at our liturgical calendar, the calendar that sets the seasons of our liturgical year, we are in “ordinary time” until Advent. Ordinary time? Give me a break. Yes, Thanksgiving is generally connected with harvest, of sorts, but it is not officially recognized as a liturgical holiday, at least not for Lutherans.

If we bring back the harvest, we bring a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving back to our culture. We recognize the link between our Creator and the food that we have on the table. We stand to gain and lose nothing in the process. The need to bring back the harvest is so self-evident to me, that I cannot believe that we didn’t do this sooner. God is the Lord of the harvest, let us celebrate as God commands us to do.

It is time to bring back the harvest!

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: Equipping God’s People

Posted on 09 August 2018 by LeslieM

They always say that time goes faster and faster as you get older. They always say that we should enjoy our children while they are small because the time goes by very fast and it is gone before you know it. I never really understood those statements until I had my own children, and I started getting older.

My wife and I did not start our family until we were in our 30s. And now (just a few years later —haha) our son is 19 and our daughter is 17. Our son is entering his sophomore year at Bradley University in Illinois and our daughter is in basic training at Fort Jackson for the Army. Both of our children are out of high school now and following their dreams, and I just think – WOW! As a parent, I want the best for my children. I want them to do well and be successful. I want them to be safe from all the bad and evil things that are in the world today. But, I do not want to be their God and make all of their life’s decisions for them. I want them to learn and grow and be able to take care of themselves so when mom and dad are not around they will know how to make wise decisions and do the right thing.

Matthew 7:9-11

9 You parents — if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?

10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!

11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

NLT

As my wife and I began to raise our children, it was then that I began to realize how much God truly loves us. The very same way that we love our own children is the same way that God loves His children. God wants the very best for us. God wants us to do well, and learn as we go through life and get educated so we will make the right decisions. God wants to protect us from the bad and evil things in this world. The Bible teaches us that safety is not in the absence of danger but in the presence of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18

17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.

18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.

NLT

The same way we pray and hope that our children listen to us and make the right decisions when opportunities come is the same way that God feels about us. God wants us to listen to Him and make the right decisions when the opportunities come. The best ways I have found to learn from God is by reading your Bible, praying and going to church. There are also benefits for our children to obey their parents and do what they are told to do. We have benefits of obeying God and by doing what He has asked us to do. As we pray for our children to be happy, healthy and holy, let’s also pray for ourselves as well.

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 Greatest Sermon

Posted on 01 August 2018 by LeslieM

There was once a new rabbi who came to his first pulpit. And, on the first Shabbat that he was there, he delivered a good sermon. Afterwards, everyone congratulated him. They all loved the sermon.

The next Shabbat, everyone came to shul, ready to hear the rabbi’s words. But he gave the same sermon. I don’t just mean a similar sermon, I mean the same exact sermon, word for word. No one knew what to say, so they went home quietly.

The third week, the rabbi got up to speak, the congregation was perfectly still, and lo and behold, again the same sermon, word for word.

This time they had to do something, so the president and the search committee were designated to go and speak with the rabbi. They made an appointment and came into his office.

Rabbi, it is so wonderful to have you here and we want you to feel very comfortable, but there is just one thing that is causing some concern. The first week you were here, you gave a very good sermon, and the second week, you gave the same sermon, and this week again the same exact sermon?!”

The rabbi was unperturbed.

Well, of course, I gave the same sermon; you’re still acting in the same way!”

The first thing that our Patriarchs and Matriarchs understood about communication and education was how wrong this rabbi was, how detached he was from his audience. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebeccah, Jacob and Rachel, and Leah, knew that sermons, speeches and lectures will never do the trick. It’s all about the HEART.

Years ago, I came across a one-liner that had a profound impact on me personally: “Every rabbi has only one sermon — the way he lives his life.” It’s all too true. We can preach from today until tomorrow, but if we don’t “walk the talk” and live the game we purport to play, we will leave our audiences unmoved, cold and apathetic. The most eloquent orators will fail to make an impression if their listeners know that their message is hollow and isn’t backed up by genuine personal commitment.

As parents, we face the same challenge, we can have the best speeches in our minds, but, if we don’t walk the walk, than our most important audience will not grow. Our most important audience is our children and they demand HEART! When children see the way we parents behave, that inspires them to follow us.

So enough of the advice giving and the preaching; now, let us begin by watching our behavior and leading by example. Now, go inspire a generation.

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 Power of Hope

Posted on 26 July 2018 by LeslieM

An experiment was once undertaken by researchers seeking to determine the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. They used lab rats for the project and divided them into two groups that were placed into two separate tubs of water. One group was left in the water and within an hour had all perished. The other group was taken out of the water for short periods of time and then returned. They were able to last for over 24 hours. The researchers determined that it wasn’t the periodic rest but the hope of rescue from the water that kept the second group of rats swimming longer.

The same power that hope holds for unthinking rodents is found to be present in the lives of cognitive humanity. If there is one faint flicker of hope in the greatest of challenges, we will fight to survive and more than likely emerge victorious. Someone once declared that “hope is the poor man’s bread.” It is what keeps us living and longing for a better day. Life and experience have proven the veracity of the maxim that “where there is a will there is a way,” and there are many persons whose lives are a testament to the invincible power of hope.

Famed Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl had studied the theories of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. He followed in their footsteps, examining life and human behavior. His experience in Hitler’s concentration camps led him to postulate his own ideas about the basic drive in human beings. Having lived through and survived the terror of the camps, he rejected Freud’s pleasure principle. Victims faced an abundance of pain and suffering in the camps but never any pleasure. He similarly rejected Adler’s idea that power was man’s basic need. In the camps, they were victims of the cruelest behavior, and the idea of power was inconceivable.

Frankl surmised that what had enabled people to survive the concentration camps was hope. They believed that life had meaning, and that one day their difficulties would end allowing them to live purposeful lives. We can lose many things in life and still find a way to live and the strength to go on, but, if robbed of hope, we lose the very will to exist. Death inevitably steals our loved ones, but we persevere. Money and material things are fleeting, and we learn to hold them loosely. Illness diminishes our health as we grow older, but we manage to survive nonetheless. To live without hope though, is to live in an unending nightmare unable to awaken to a more calming reality.

Psalm 27:13 (KJV) records King David’s conclusion about his life and experience with God. “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” It is a powerful proclamation made from the perspective of review and relief. David is convinced that had he not possessed hope when facing an unnamed crisis, the outcome would have been disastrous.

He offers us encouragement to similarly entrust our lives to God’s oversight and intervention. We will all face fainting circumstances, the kinds which bring fear and claw away at our confidence and security. But powerless though we may be in the face of adversity, we have an all-powerful ally who responds to faith in those who look to Him.

Hope cannot exist in a vacuum, it does not thrive in an empty space. It is inextricably linked to the knowledge of possibility and the awareness of help. The lesson of the lab rats and the concentration camp survivors is that hope must be placed in someone or something greater than the individual and more powerful than the difficulty.

David identifies whom our hope and expectations should be placed upon. May we never lose our hope, for God is always available.

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: Sometimes, God says “no”

Posted on 19 July 2018 by LeslieM

Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) NRSV

The author of the above text, the apostle Paul, reminds us that prayers are answered, but not always the way that we want them to be answered. Sometimes, God says “yes.” Sometimes, God says “no.” Persistently Paul asked God to remove the “thorn in his flesh.” And God said, “No.”

When 2 Corinthians appeared in our lectionary a few weeks ago I felt that this is a good time for a reminder. Christians need to be reminded, now and then, that God says no on occasion.

I certainly am not the first pastor to address this and I know that I won’t be the last. It occurred to me that the greater problem is not the fact that God’s answers are unpredictable. I think the greater problem is that our response to God is predictable. When God says yes, we are predictably pleased. When God says no, we are predictably disappointed. What is rare, but not impossible, is the person who hears God’s no and responds with contentment. It is not to say that doesn’t happen, it is just to say that it is rare. For the most part, we feel entitled to a yes from God. That is the imperfect part of our human nature.

I remember hearing this story when I was younger and one could tell it in a number of different ways, but it is pretty much the same story.

A little boy asked his mom: “Mom, can we have hamburgers for supper?” His mom answered “no.” The little boy was disappointed. Then, when supper time came around, mom loaded up the car and took her family for pizza, the little boy’s favorite pizza place.

The same little boy, a few weeks later, realized that his favorite program was on TV. The little boy asked: “Mom, can we watch my favorite program on TV?” His mom answered, “no.” The little boy was disappointed. Then prime time came along and mom loaded up her car and took him to see a movie, a movie he was excited to see.

The little boy, once again, asked his mom: “Mom, can I go with my friend to the park?” His mom answered, “no.” The little boy was disappointed until his mom started loading up towels, blankets, chairs and his pale and shovel. It looked like he was going to the beach and his mom said he could bring a friend.

Then the little boy thought for a while and said, “When mom says ‘no’ to something good, she says ‘yes’ to something better.”

I thought about this simple story and reflected upon my life. I thought about all of the people in my life who bring me joy. I thought about where I live, where I serve and the joy that comes with being at Zion Lutheran in Deerfield Beach. If God would have said “yes” to every prayer I prayed, none of these blessings would have come to fruition. I am grateful that God said “no.” That is not to say I haven’t been disappointed. It is to say that disappointment is only temporary while God’s Grace is eternal and, as the Lord revealed to Paul, sufficient.

Every person should take inventory of her or his life and consider the disappointments and blessings. I think we would all be blessed to discover the many times when God said “no” to something good only to make it possible to say yes to something better.

Maybe that is why the Lord’s Prayer has the petition “Thy will be done” as opposed to “My will be done.” God seems to know better.

Thank God for all the times God said “no.” Thank God for all the times God said yes to something even better.

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: Try happiness

Posted on 12 July 2018 by LeslieM

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.— James 5:13 (NLT)

No one is exempt from going through bad times, but please do not forget that we have many good times also. Whether everything is great or it totally stinks, God should always have our attention. Last Sunday when I went to church, I knew I was in for a great day. How could I not be? I was in God’s House, the “Happiest Place on Earth.” However, as I looked around at this happy place, I started to think. In this happy place, there was a crying child, a man who just lost a family member to Cancer, a young woman going through a divorce and a preacher that felt each of their pain. I couldn’t help but think, even in God’s House, the happiest place on earth, there is still suffering and hurting people. Check out Psalms Chapter 20 (Awesome):

1 In times of trouble, may the LORD respond to your cry. May the God of Israel keep you safe from all harm.

2 May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem.

3 May he remember all your gifts and look favorably on your burnt offerings.

4 May he grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.

5 May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory, flying banners to honor our God. May the LORD answer all your prayers.

6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed king. He will answer him from his holy heaven and rescue him by his great power.

7 Some nations boast of their armies and weapons, but we boast in the LORD our God.

8 Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm.

9 Give victory to our king, O LORD! Respond to our cry for help.

Psalms 20 (NLT)

For some, our happiest place is with our family and friends, or taking a walk on the beach. We cannot escape suffering; no matter how hard we try, we are not exempt. Sometimes, suffering is used for correcting; sometimes, it is used for God’s glory; sometimes, it is used to build our character, and sometimes one person suffers for another’s benefit. Yet, there are times when we really don’t understand why others or we ourselves are suffering. Like Job from the Bible, we must seek to trust God and endure because we win when we do! We have a happy place found in the presence of the Lord. If God could hear Jonah’s cry from inside the whale, then I am sure he can hear your cry. One thing is for sure: if we are suffering in any way, then we should be praying and talking to God a lot. What do you think?

Perhaps you are in a season of hurt or suffering right now. In this moment, it may not be clear why your suffering is happening. Your role in this season is to spend time with and reach out to God, knowing that He will help you through this trial with His strength. In this way, at the end of the day, you will be able to rejoice in who God is. James 5:13 says we should pray and praise God during the good times and the bad times. In good or bad times, we better be spending time with God. Try happiness … it is found in the presence of the Lord.

Pastor Tony Guadagnino is a pastor at Christian Love Fellowship Church, located at 801 SE 10 St. in Deerfield Beach. www.clfdeerfield.com.

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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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