| Clergy Corner

Things promised and present

Posted on 16 October 2019 by LeslieM

All things are yours, whether . . . the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ and Christ is of God. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Sometimes, we shrink the truths of the Gospel down to things promised. To be sure, we have been promised an eternity with our Lord, and this eternity will be a place where there will be no more sorrow or sin, pain or persecution, fear or unfaithfulness, disease or death. In a word, it will be the paradise that was lost in the Garden of Eden by the sin of Adam and Eve. The apostle Paul describes this as the beatific vision of God: “Now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

But what about now? What does the Gospel promise us in this present life? What blessings can we expect before we cross the Jordan and enter into our eternal rest?

This article would indeed have no end if I were to try and set before you all that we have been given, for “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Here are just a few things, which I pray will be both a comfort and an encouragement to you. We are . . .

Unconditionally loved

Completely forgiven

Perfectly accepted

Totally empowered

Supernaturally strengthened

Utterly united to God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit

We must always remember that the Gospel is not only a promise of eternal life. It also impacts our everyday life as well. As the apostle Paul wrote in the passage that opens this article, Whether things present or things to come, ALL THINGS ARE OURS!” And what was Paul doing, but simply advancing a truth that God had already set before His people.

The upright shall have good things in possession. (Proverbs 28:10 KJV)

Christian, it is important to remember that even a life full of “good things” does not mean we will not experience difficulties. Jesus promised that we will experience troubles in this life (John 16:33). The unbelieving world will present problems for the Christian, from intense pressure to intentional persecution.

And if that was not trouble enough, the believing world will present its problems too. Why? Because we are still sinners in moment-by-moment need of a Savior. We say things we ought not say; do things we ought not do; and think things we ought not think, making life difficult on ourselves and those around us. But remember this too: After the promise of problems, Jesus assures us, “But be of good cheer! I have overcome the world.” Because Jesus was an overcomer, we, too, are to be overcomers, regardless of the challenges and difficulties we face on this side of the grave.

In closing, as a child of the Most High God, you currently have good things in your possession. To live out this truth is to live a life marked by joy and thanksgiving to the One who has so graciously given it to you. And above all that you have been promised, you have the presence of your Lord Jesus everywhere you go. When Jesus walked with His disciples, they had Him with them physically, but not every moment of every day. But when Jesus left this earth, He sent His Holy Spirit and promised that His Spirit would dwell within us every moment in this life . . . and in the next. “Surely I am with you always,” He assures us, “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

May this truth set us free to love our God and to proclaim His incredible promise to a world that desperately needs to hear it.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that . . . Amen!

Tommy Boland is the pastor for Cross Community Church located at 841 SE 2 Ct. in Deerfield Beach. For more information, call 954-427-3045 or visit www.thecrosscc.org.

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October is clergy appreciation month

Posted on 10 October 2019 by LeslieM

The following quote was found in the 1996 Sept./Oct. issue of the Saturday Evening Post, “In 1992, layperson Jerry Frear, Jr., was brainstorming with church colleagues about how they might be of help to their minister when he glanced at a calendar and noticed that it was almost Groundhog Day. ‘I thought, if they have a day for groundhogs, there ought to be a day for the 375,000 clergy people in America,’ Frear says. So…for the last seven years the second Sunday in October has been set aside to show appreciation for our clergy.”

Focus on the Family is credited with building on, expanding, and popularizing pastor appreciation week, by calling October “Clergy Appreciation Month.” Hallmark saw a market and wanted in on the action and the first “Pastor Appreciation” greeting cards were sold in 2002.

Those who only observe a minister from a distance may feel his job is an easy one. Too often, people misconstrue that a pastor works one day per week, studies only one Book and mooches off generous people who host him occasionally for supper. That may be true for a few “so-called” ministers, but that is far from the truth for those pastors who are serving the Lord with their whole heart.

Pastors who truly love people will invest themselves into the lives of their congregation. They will weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. They sympathize and empathize with those God has entrusted to them. In doing this, many pastors struggle to separate work from personal life. They cannot just leave the office and forget the events of the day. They take the needs of others with them, agonize over them in prayer and wrestle with them through many sleepless nights.

Pastors and their families live in fish bowls and get observed and scrutinized from every angle. Pastors attempt to lead those who are frequently resistant to change. They listen to those who have strong opinions, and love those who announce how they would have done things differently. Serving others can at times be overwhelming.

The data reveals that 95 percent of those who enter vocational ministry will NOT retire from it. Hundreds of pastors are leaving the ministry every month; many pastors say that the ministry has negatively affected their marriage and family; and many pastors admit they would quit, if they had some other career option. The majority of pastors admit to walking a very lonely road that lacks deep friendships and the suicide rate among pastors is rising rapidly.

Whether you think your pastor needs it or not, let me encourage you to do something special to encourage them during the month of October. A simple note, a word of encouragement, an affirmation of support goes a long way toward inspiring your pastor. Show your appreciation by praying, encouraging, attending, supporting, participating, and protecting him when others speak evil. Throughout the year, give him a gift card to take his wife to dinner. Offer free childcare, wash his car, give him a gas card, bake his favorite cookies/pie, etc. The little things say a lot and are even more appreciated, when they are unexpected.

So, during October, be a blessing to your pastor, as well as, in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, November and December. Your simple prayer or word of encouragement may be the thing that keeps him from being part of 95 percent that leave the ministry. I close with a special shout out to all of my pastor friends… thank you for your faithfulness and keep your eye on the Prize (Phil. 3:14).

Dr. Gary A. Colboch is Senior Pastor at Grace Church located at 501 NE 48 St. in Pompano Beach. For more information, call 954-421-0190 or pastor@gbcfl.org.

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The Processionary Caterpillars

Posted on 03 October 2019 by LeslieM

Jean-Henri Fabre (1823-1915) was a French naturalist. He was the author of many works on insect life, remarkable for their vivid and minute observations and received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1910. One experiment he performed on Processionary Caterpillars struck a profound chord in my heart, allowing me to appreciate what Rosh Hashanah can mean for us today.

The Processionary Caterpillar is so named because what makes this little furry insect unique is its instinct to follow the caterpillar in front of it in a procession. Processions consist of 300 caterpillars or more, often fooling predators into thinking the caterpillar processions are snakes. It is a fascinating and charming sight to behold, as they move along nose to tail and in the likeness of a miniature train, with their eyes half-closed, searching for food.

Jean-Henri Fabre took a giant flower pot and placed an abundance of the caterpillars’ favorite food (juicy green leaves) at its center, and then he enticed the lead caterpillar to start circling around the circumference of the flowerpot’s rim. The other caterpillars followed suit in a tight single-file process. Fabre then succeeded in getting the lead caterpillar to connect up with the last one, creating a complete circle, which moved around the pot in a never ending procession; the head of one caterpillar touching the rear end of the caterpillar in front of it. Each caterpillar followed the one ahead, thinking that it was in search of food.

Fabre was certain that after a few circles of the pot, the caterpillars would discover their predicament or tire of their endless progression and veer in another direction. But they continued their circle. Fabre thought that after a day or two, growing hungry and tired, one of them will break out of the circle and head for the food. But, quite unbelievably, seven days and nights passed and not one of them would break the pattern to fetch the food in the center of the pot, less than six inches away.

The end of the story? Each one of the caterpillars died of exhaustion and starvation. 

Not one of the caterpillars stepped out of line. So they all died.

Human Caterpillars

Is it not true that so many of us humans, in our own way, suffer from similar patterns? How many of us often fall into their very pattern of following the masses at the expense of our own food laying right there in middle of the flowerpot? Deep in our hearts we often know that we should or should not be doing something or saying something. But we just fall into the “herd mentality” trap. We know that what we have been doing for so many years is really not nourishing us, but we can’t get ourself to leave the cursed circle. We’d rather die than step out of line.  

We’ve all seen footage of people breaking out into a stampede on Black Friday and trampling others at Target. Viewers often make fun of these groups, wondering how so many customers could be so stupid. But the crowds aren’t really thousands of individuals making dumb decisions. The crowds are just crowds; that’s what crowds do.

We are programmed to follow herds, explained superstar Israeli economist Dan Ariely in his new book, Dollars and Sense, and businesses make use of this mentality. Have you ever been stuck waiting with a group outside a music venue when the spacious building could easily let you all in? They might be keeping you there to get passersby to come to the show.

We assume that, if other people are doing something, then it’s a good idea.

“That’s what we are designed to do,” Ariely says “It’s not something we are aware of.”

This tendency can be dangerous. When fires break out in crowded movie theaters, everyone often runs to the same door and gets stuck in a bottleneck, even when there are two other side doors going unused. It’s very hard to say, ‘Everyone’s running in that direction. Let me sit here and think and look carefully around.’

Like wildebeests on the Serengeti running from lions, our species depends on a tendency for many people to act like one big animal.

This same mental tendency helps us build skyscrapers together and distribute food around the world. It just also means we can be indiscriminate about which groups we join. If you’re in a group, your mind isn’t always your own.

Yogi Berra

The legendary baseball player, Yogi Berra, who died in Sep. 2015, was once asked by his wife: “Yogi: you were born in Missouri, you live in New Jersey, and you played with the New York Yankees. So when you die, where should I bury you?” 

Yogi replied: “Surprise me!”

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur says: Surprise yourself. Step out of line! This year, give yourself permission to cross the imaginary or real lines that hold you hostage. Transcend the mold.

Surprise yourself. Don’t be predictable. Do it differently. People put all types of limits on themselves, inspired by fear and trauma and status quo. This year — break out.

LeShana Tova

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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Are you ready?

Posted on 26 September 2019 by LeslieM

When it comes to being on the alert and ready at any moment to do the job, it’s hard to beat the Pony Express. This historically famous mail service between St. Joseph, MO, and California depended on constant movement and readiness. Relay stations were established every 10 to 15 miles. A rider would shout aloud as he approached a station, giving the station master very short notice that he needed to be outside waiting with a fresh mount. We have this service’s intriguing example of what it means to be ever watchful. (Today in the Word, Dec. 1997, pg. 17).

Matthew 25:1-13 details a parable of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus gave to His disciples to teach their need to be watchful and ready for His return. Two groups of virgins were distinguished by their preparedness: those having extra oil were considered wise, while those who only had what was in their lamps were considered foolish. All of them were waiting expectantly for the Bridegroom to come. Verse 5 relates: while the Bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. When he finally came, only those who were ready (who could light their lamps because they had reserve oil), were able to go with him to the wedding.

The need for preparation extends to any area of our lives and Christian walk where we anticipate opportunities for advancement and advantage or have an expectation of God to manifest His blessings upon us. Will you be ready when an opportunity knocks at your door? Are you prepared for God’s blessing? It’s not enough just to expect His favor and the fulfillment of His promises. We must be prepared for them. An opportunity loses its value if you are unable to seize it.

According to Merriam-Webster, preparation is the “activity or process of making something ready or becoming ready for something.” This may involve education such as needed for a career or information regarding an appealing opportunity. It will require discipline to remain focused on the goal while avoiding distractions or discouragement. Patience and perseverance will be a necessity to endure the length of time the process may take. In the end, however, we will find ourselves ready and positioned to maximize the opportunity when it comes.

The danger in not being prepared is that, like the foolish virgins, when the time arrives for God to move, we may miss out on His blessing, favor, or power. Harrison Ford was a struggling actor in Hollywood getting small parts and supporting his family by working side-jobs as a carpenter. He was building cabinets at the home of George Lucas when he was given a supporting role in the film American Grafitti. That led to an opportunity to audition for Star Wars where Lucas was so impressed by Ford’s ability that he offered him the role of Hans Solo, and the rest is history. The carpenter became a successful leading actor because he was prepared.

Will you be ready for your next opportunity? Are you prepared for a demonstration of God’s favor in your life and circumstance? Are you ready to meet the Bridegroom? What steps do you need to take to position yourself for what you desire or intend for your future? You must remember that expectation coupled with preparation, will bring about manifestation. We must be ready!

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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Progress . . . Not perfection

Posted on 18 September 2019 by LeslieM

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I meet far too many Christians who believe being a “new creation” means they are now to have the passion of the prophets, the discipline of the disciples and the strength of a superhero saint. Both sacred scripture and personal experience has taught me this is simply not the case. To be sure, through the sinless life, sacrificial death and supernatural resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, sin has been conquered and crushed. But, as I frequently remind our congregation, we must remember that inasmuch as sin no longer reigns in the life of the Christian – it still remains in the life of the Christian. We will fight the sin battle all the way into glory.
Now, before we were saved by the blood of the Lamb and made a new creation, we could only sin in the eyes of the Lord. Nothing we did brought honor, glory or praise to His name because everything we did we did for our own honor, glory and praise. Our selfish ambition and self interest ruled our hearts and shaped our lives. But when Jesus showed up, all that changed. As a new creation, we have an ability we did not have before Jesus. We now have the ability to resist the devil when he comes knocking at our door, and flee from the sinful impulses that still reside in the old nature. But if we think we will reach perfection in this life, we are setting ourselves up for certain defeat.
The ultimate outcome of the Christian life is perfection; when we cross the Jordan, we will be perfectly conformed into the image and likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ. But until that day, we will struggle against the sin nature that still resides within us. We must remember the same man who penned the above passage in his letter to the Corinthians also penned the following one in his letter to the Romans:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do . . . For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15, 19)
Paul was indeed a new creation, but he still battled against the sin nature that still remained within and so will you and me. Yet, the orientation of our lives has been radically changed by Christ. Instead of the heart beating for the self, it begins to beat for our Savior. We desire to live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to the One who saved us from sin, Satan, death and ourselves. When Jesus raises us up from death to life and makes us a new creation, He renews our mind, realigns our will and reorients our heart. At this level of living, because Christ is living in us (Galatians 2:20), we begin to make real and measurable progress against sin.
As new creations, we now have a new identity which cannot be shaken, because it is rooted in the unshakable One. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ, the Father sees us as He sees His son . . . perfect in every way. And, as a “new creation,” we now have a new power within us to fight against every temptation to sin that is greater than any power that comes up against us. Let the truth of who you are set you free to make forward progress and, when you don’t, fear not. You are unconditionally loved and completely forgiven.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that . . . Amen!
Tommy Boland is the pastor for Cross Community Church, located at 841 SE 2 Ct. in Deerfield Beach. For more information, call 954-427-3045 or visit www.thecrosscc.org.

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Skewed views of church ownership

Posted on 12 September 2019 by LeslieM

Today’s thoughts are directed to vocational ministers, lay-leaders and members of local churches across all denominations. One of my long-time pet peeves is those who think of and call any ministry “theirs.” Have you ever heard a preacher or lay-person use the phrase “my church?” The verbiage may seem harmless, but that statement is the first step down a very slippery slope!

Jesus clearly claimed the church as HIS when He said, “I will build MY church” (Matthew 16:18). The church is referred to as “Christ’s body, of which He is the Head” (Ephesians 1:22-23). In the same passage, the Apostle Paul declared Christ to be the bridegroom, Who lovingly and sacrificially chose the church to be HIS “Bride” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Jesus gave Himself up for the church, “to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the Word.” In addition, we see that one day there will be a wedding feast held in Heaven called the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” followed by Christ’s eternal union with His bride (Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-2).

These passages are very clear and vitally important because if we ever mistakenly believe the church is “ours,” that skewed view will result in sinful behavior. During my 35 years of ministry, I have been a witness to pastors, deacons, and lay-people who have been willing to divide or harm a congregation in order to make a point or to get their way. I have seen church members manipulate people and/or circumstances for personal gain. I have seen people attack churches and church leaders through gossip, letter writing, texting and/or phone calling campaigns. I have seen cowards attack ministries using the weapon of a keyboard to post negativity on social media. Such actions clearly reveal those who believe the church belongs to them.

One such illustration is seen in a lady who left a church over five years ago, but still regularly and “religiously” tries to convince members to leave “her” former church and start attending “her” new church. Did you catch that … she wants them to attend “her” church. Such proselytizing only happens when a person has the mindset that the church belongs to them. Attempting to poach for or solicit members from the former church is evidence of a skewed view of church ownership. You might expect such action from a layperson; but, sadly, I have witnessed pastors, staff members, Christian School employees, Deacons and other lay-leaders who have intentionally tried to inflict harm as they left a ministry. No one who understands scripture and believes the church belongs to Christ would ever try to harm, divide, damage or destroy God’s church – ever!

The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 5:25-27 that Christ “gave up His life for her (the church) 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.27 He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish.” You see, when a person truly understands that Christ died for His Church, we realized how much He really loves her! Realizing that, who would dare throw mud on the wedding dress of Christ’s Bride? Who would speak ill or maliciously against Christ’s Bride? Who would try to cause division within or gossip about Christ’s Bride? Answer – only those who do not know or respect the Bridegroom.

The greatest indicator of your belief about church ownership is not seen while attending a specific church, but rather when you leave that church. Serving while attending is easy, but a person’s true character is seen by the manner in which they leave. Some feel the church owes them something because of their tenure, how much money they have given or how influential they have been. Some take credit for past successes, while hoping for future failure. Some wreak havoc, while others aide in a smooth transition. Some encourage those who remain, while others attempt to proselytize. The bottom-line is that how you treat the Bride (the church) reveals the level of respect you have for the Bridegroom. This is a great reminder that the church belongs to Jesus Christ, so let us behave with integrity and treat her accordingly.

Dr. Gary A. Colboch is Senior Pastor at Grace Church located at 501 NE 48 St. in Pompano Beach. For more information, call 954-421-0190 or pastor@gbcfl.org.

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Who believes in prayer?

Posted on 05 September 2019 by LeslieM

In a small town in India, a person decided to open up a bar, which was right opposite of a Temple. The Temple and its congregation started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayed daily.

Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning bolt struck the bar and it was burnt to the ground. The bar owner sued the Temple on the grounds that the Temple through its prayers was ultimately responsible for the ill fate of his dream project, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the Temple vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection between their prayers and the bar’s burning down. As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented: “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire Temple that doesn’t.”

The Sidur

Let me share a story:

Simon Wiesenthal (1908 – 2005) was an Austrian Holocaust survivor who spent four and a half years in the German concentration camps such as Janowska, Plaszow, and Mauthausen.

After the war, he became famous for his work as a Nazi hunter. Wiesenthal dedicated most of his life to tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazis so that they could be brought to justice.

At a conference of European Rabbis in Bratislava, Slovakia the Rabbis presented the 91 year old Simon Wiesenthal with an award, and Mr.Wiesenthal, visibly moved, told the Rabbis the following encounter that he had with Rabbi Eliezer Silver.

Rabbi Eliezer Silver (1882 – 1968) was among American Jewry’s foremost religious leaders, and he is most noted for spearheading efforts in rescuing as many Jews as possible from Europe. He raised funds, requested exemptions on immigration quotas, offered to ransom concentration camp prisoners for cash and tractors – talks that freed hundreds from Bergen-Belsen and other death camps — and organized rallies in Washington. After the war, he traveled to Europe and worked tirelessly on the ground to assist his brethren.

It was in Mauthausen after liberation that Simon Wiesenthal was visited by Rabbi Silver when he had come to help and comfort the survivors.  Rabbi Silver had organized a special prayer service and he invited Wiesenthal to join the other survivors in praying. Mr. Wiesenthal declined and explained his position.

“When I was in camp, I saw many different types of people do things. There was one religious man of whom I was in awe. This man had managed to smuggle a Siddur (Jewish prayer book) into the camp. I was amazed that he took the risk of his life in order to bring the Siddur in.

“The next day, to my horror, I realized that this was no religious man. He was renting the Siddur in exchange for people giving him their last piece of bread. I was so angry with this Jew, how could he take a Siddur and use it to take a person’s last piece of bread away? So I am not going to pray, if this is how religious Jews behave.”

As Wiesenthal turned to walk away, Rabbi Silver tapped him on the shoulder and gently said in Yiddish, “Oy naar, naar.” Wiesenthal was intrigued why had the Rabbi called him childish. The answer wasn’t long in coming.

Rabbi Silver continued, “Why do you look at the manipulative Jew who rented out his Siddur to take away people’s last meals? Why do you look at that less-than-noble person? Why don’t you focus on the dozens of Jews who gave up their last piece of bread in order to be able to use a Siddur? To be able to talk to G-d? Why don’t you look at those awesome people who in spite of all their suffering still felt they can connect to their Creator?”

Wiesenthal joined the service and shared the story some 60 years later.

It is with immense gratitude to G-d that we are grateful for the miracles we just witnessed here in South Florida.

Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord!

Equally important: There is a lot of pain in the world and especially in the Bahamas right now. But so many of us have so much to be thankful for. We have so many blessings. Don’t forget the giver of these blessings. Express your gratitude to G-d.   

Try it out. Reopen a conversation with G-d, daily, weekly or bi weekly. Learn to say thank you for your blessings, and learn to share your concerns and pains.

Please Join us for High Holidays Services — Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 30 – Oct. 1) and Yom Kippur (Oct. 9).

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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Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree

Posted on 29 August 2019 by LeslieM

We Anglicans are a liturgical church and, I mean by that, we have a liturgy – a schedule of Bible readings that provide us with a spiritual focus each week. Recently, our focus was the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Charles Dickens was fond of this parable and lovingly retold it in his “biography” of Pip in Great Expectations. I must admit to not being nearly as erudite as Charles Dickens – I’m a child of the ‘70s and the parable reminds me of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s hit song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”

The parable is found in the 15th chapter of Luke’s Gospel and is one of three parables of the lost that Jesus told – a lost sheep … a lost coin … and a lost son. Our understanding of any good story is enriched by knowledge of the story’s setting. I have often found that imagining our Lord in a contemporary setting helps me to understand his message. I once lived in Savannah, Georgia and often found myself with friends at a great little place on River Street called The Other End.It was owned by an Englishman and he served good food, good drinks and hung the requisite dart board on the wall at the end of the bar. Let’s suppose Jesus was at The Other Endone evening and was enjoying the company of some local people. About that time some very pious people walked by and, seeing Jesus inside, walked right in and confronted him: “What are you doing in a place like this, and spending time with this kind of people?”

Our Lord knew what was in their hearts and said to them, “Sit down here with me and let me tell you a story.” He proceeded to tell them three stories of the lost and ended each telling with a statement about the outward joy of recovering what was lost, as opposed to the inward joy over what was already found. He concluded his conversation with the pious people with a question, “Now do you understand what I have told you?” They didn’t.

It doesn’t help our understanding of our Lord’s message if we look askance at the reaction of those pious people who first heard his parables. Why? Because our understanding may be clouded by the same notions that prevented them from “getting” our Lord’s message. They, and sometimes we, like the Prodigal Son, fail to understand the power of our Lord’s forgiveness; that there is nothing we can do that is beyond his power to forgive, when we turn to Him and accept Him as our Lord. They, and sometimes we, like the brother of the Prodigal Son, fail to understand that we live in our Lord’s benevolent hands and that He is ever present in our lives.

There is a classic illustration that has been used for years when preachers speak about The Parable of the Prodigal Son. In this illustration, a young man took his inheritance and left his family home for the bright lights of the city. He was soon out of money and friends and options. He hit bottom and wrote to his parents: “Dear Mom and Dad, I have sinned deeply against you and against God. I am not worthy to be called your son. There is no reason for you to welcome me back but I have hit bottom and I need to come home. The train I will be on will pass our family home before it arrives at the station. If it’s OK for me to come home hang a white towel on the clothesline near the tracks and I will know you want me back.”

Spoiler alert! When the train rounded the bend and passed the family home the whole clothesline was festooned with white towels and the trees, fences and roofs were all covered in white. And so it is with our Lord and each one of us. Sometimes, we wander away from Him and get wrapped up in things of the world and live as if He doesn’t exist. When that happens, and it may, the parables of the lost remind us that when we turn back to a loving relationship with our God, He will tie a white ribbon around a tree and welcome us home.

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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Memories, markers and monuments

Posted on 22 August 2019 by LeslieM

At the time of this writing I’m sitting in an airport lounge waiting to board a delayed return flight from New York to Florida. I’m also reflecting on the reason for this trip: the passing of a dear friend and mentor whose life was celebrated in an impressive three-day event. Christian minister and pastor Rev. Dr. A.G. Quarrie was an influencer who caused many people from different generations and different countries to converge on Bronx, NY to show respect for his leadership and to offer comfort for his family. We shared our memories of his friendship and example, and spoke of the great void that now exists with his departure. With numerous tributes and commendations, punctuated with moving gospel songs and powerful homilies, the combined services were a fitting marker to a life well lived. His impact and legacy will live on in the lives of those whom he touched in a powerful way.
I’m also looking ahead to the upcoming dedication of the memorial park on the site of the Old Colored Cemetery in Deerfield Beach. (See more on the event, pg. 4). Once slated for residential development, the site was preserved through the vigorous outcry from members of the community who knew the significance of the land. Thanks to the determination of our community’s leaders, monies to purchase the land and create a memorial park were secured, and the site will serve as a monument to an undeniable past that should never be forgotten. There will also be a statue in honor of the late Branhilda Richardson-Knowles, who served as a midwife for many of the community’s citizens of color who were born in homes rather than hospitals due to social conditions at the time.
As I write this, I’m sitting in an airport that is undergoing major reconstruction to modernize and update the facilities and travel experience for the millions of travelers that pass through its terminals each year. You can only imagine the congestion and confusion that exists as motorists and travelers attempt to navigate the maze of steel, construction equipment, and re-routed traffic, that make entering and exiting the airport an adventure in and of itself. Pictures of the finished product look impressive, but the experience is unnerving and frustrating. Sometimes, in our rush to give birth to the future we produce undeniable birth pangs in the present.
I’m of the opinion that history should be noted and, in some cases, preserved through markers and monuments. Far too many in our day have no appreciation for the past and either take too much for granted or seek to erase the realities of what once was in order to create what they desire. History can be denied but it cannot be undone. Like sounds which once released cannot be reclaimed, neither can the experiences of the past be retracted and refurbished. What’s done is done, and we can only appreciate and celebrate, or contemplate and educate ourselves concerning the good and bad of history. There is something to be learned from all of the past.
As the ancient Israelites made their journey towards the land of promise, they were instructed to set up markers and memorials to their experiences of God’s presence among them. In Exodus 17:14, Israel’s victory over the Amalekites in the valley of Rephidim was to be written and recorded for a memorial. In Exodus 28:29, Moses is given this directive, “So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually.” And the successful crossing of the Jordan River during flood season was marked, in Joshua 3:17, by stones which were to serve as “a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” Through these markers future generations would gain knowledge of their history. As Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
May we never forget the people, places and events that shaped us and positioned us for the present and future.

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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You don’t have to be an idiot

Posted on 15 August 2019 by LeslieM

One of my all-time favorite TV shows was Country Fried Home Videos, hosted by Bill Engvall. In each episode, people would do things that are unthinkable to a normal person. The most bizarre behavior gets rewarded with the “Here’s Your Sign” award. Past winners include a man who got bit as he stuck his hand into the mouth of an alligator, another man who rolled a large piece of slate down a mountainside and right into his vehicle, and another man hanging a large pincher crab on his nipple – ouch! In my opinion, the winners of these awards are idiots!

According to dictionary.com, an idiot is “an utterly foolish or senseless person.” Well, I’ve come across a few idiots in my day, and so have you. Consider the person who sees a “wet paint” sign and touches it to see if it is really wet. Think about the person who blames a ladder as defective after falling from the top section that states, “Danger: Not a Step.” The worst I ever heard was the man who ignored the warning labels and tried to trim his hedge by picking up his lawnmower; he lost fingers on both hands!

Idiots are not only revealed by their bizarre behavior, but also by their bizarre thought processes. Consider the man who gets angry when the woman he had a one-night stand with asks for child support. Consider the person dying with lung cancer or Emphysema who continues to smoke. What about the 90-year-old man who refuses to believe that his 20-year-old girlfriend is only after his money and not his wrinkly old body. These are only a few examples of foolish or idiotic thinking; but there are many, many more.

Foolish behavior is nothing new. Consider Adam & Eve, who lost everything because they believed a talking snake and ate the fruit. Consider the people who mocked Noah as he built the ark and ultimately drowned. Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant after God told him not to and fell dead. King David had many wives and concubines, but just had to have Bathsheba. Judas saw Jesus’ perform miracles, but chose to betray Him. The crowds chose to crucify Jesus, even though Pilate proclaimed Him to be innocent. People have been making utterly foolish or senseless decisions since the beginning.

Foolish behavior and beliefs continue today. People deny Jesus’ existence, even though His life is documented by historians. People now argue that America was never founded as a Christian nation, although the proof is stamped all over Washington D.C. People refuse to believe the Bible. People know what God expects, but they choose to live otherwise. Proverb 14:12 NIV states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

It is easy to prove that people make utterly foolish and senseless decisions every day; but the point is that we do not have to. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Realizing this, don’t be foolish; instead choose wisely. It is appointed unto men once to die and after that is the judgment. So, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. That is the wisest choice you can ever make!

Dr. Gary A. Colboch is Senior Pastor at Grace Church located at 501 NE 48 St. in Pompano Beach. For more information, call 954-421-0190 or pastor@gbcfl.org.

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