| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: Until we meet again

Posted on 18 April 2019 by LeslieM

It seems strange to begin an article about Easter talking about Christmas. However, I do begin most of my Christmas sermons talking about Easter. Usually, I start my Christmas sermon by saying something like “Today, we celebrate the second most important Christian holiday.” You should see the looks of confusion I get. Then, I say “Without Easter, today would just be another birthday.”

It is true. Without the Crucifixion and Resurrection; without Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we would be left with words and miracles from the greatest man who ever lived. But because of Easter, we celebrate his words, his miracles, his death and resurrection, and the promise that awaits us in God’s glorious kingdom.

In our culture, my statement is still quite jarring. We like Christmas, regardless of who we are, believer and non-believer alike loves presents, Santa, Christmas trees, cookies. Christmas has become so secularized that you can listen to hours of Christmas music and never hear of the birth of Jesus. Some people even avoid the word “Christmas” altogether.

You really can’t do that with Easter. Sure, there is a bunny and chocolate eggs and a couple of Peter Cottontail songs. But Easter doesn’t get the same attention as Christmas. I think this is good. Without the Resurrection, Easter would be all chocolate and jelly beans. Easter gives meaning to Easter.

I think about the years that I have served as a pastor, 25 years this coming September. I think about the privilege and joy that I have had meeting wonderful, wise, generous, lively and loving people. I think about how much better my life is because of the people I served, knew and loved. Many have died and their legacy lives in my heart.

Easter is the promise that I will see them again. Easter is the joyful reminder that they are with the Lord. This blessed assurance gives me the consolation that helps me go from day to day. Easter reminds me that the friends who I know and love now will be my friends forever.

Dear people of Deerfield Beach (and beyond), this will be my last Easter at Zion Lutheran Church. I am returning to my home with my family. Zion has been a wonderful congregation to serve and I have made lifelong friends not only at Zion, but in this community that I love so dearly. It is going to be an emotional Easter for me, but, because of Easter, I know that I never really have to say goodbye. Because of Easter, I can simply say “Until we meet again.”

So, Deerfield Beach and surrounding communities, I say on behalf of Zion and myself “Blessed Easter.” And, Because of Easter, I can say “Until we meet again.”

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: Over entertained and under challenged!

Posted on 11 April 2019 by LeslieM

It’s been many years since I first heard Andy Stanley make the statement, “Today’s teenagers are over entertained and under challenged.” His sermon, preached at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, was addressing the way so many churches were approaching student ministry and measuring success by the numbers. His observation was correct back then, and it is still correct today.

In a church culture that measures success almost solely by numbers, it only makes sense that youth pastors are prone to entertaining students and striving to gather the masses in order to be viewed as successful. Sadly, the same entertainment mentality is true with adults. Too many adults choose a church based on the length of the services, whether the church has a softball team, how humorous the pastor is, and whether or not they like the music. These superficial factors show the shallowness plaguing the Christian church today.

The long-term effects of the entertainment focus in ministry can be seen in the spiritual adolescence prevalent among today’s believers. We are in dire need of discipleship. The effectiveness of discipleship can be measured by whether or not those who call themselves disciples begin to disciple others. In essence, the student should eventually become the teacher. But, how is someone who has been over entertained and under challenged supposed to gain the knowledge necessary to teach? The Apostle Paul describes this dilemma in Hebrews 5:12-14 NIV“ In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Not only has the focus on entertainment in ministry caused a shallowness of knowledge, but it has also resulted in fewer people being exposed to real ministry opportunities. Churches used to “do“ ministry, go on mission trips, serve their communities, and impact their world. That exposure to ministry often resulted in growing churches and people surrendering to become vocational ministers. Today, fewer people are entering vocational ministry, seminary enrollment has declined nationally, as well as church attendance across denominational lines. The common denominator is that too many church-goers have been and continue to be over entertained and under challenged.

So, which word best describes the church you attend – “entertainment” or “discipleship?” It’s never too late to start challenging others to grow spiritually. Jesus challenged 12 men, and in just three years He prepared them to impact eternity! Think how different the world would have been if He only entertained them. Think how different our world could be, if today’s churches will rise up and challenge those who God has entrusted to us!

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

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CLERGY CORNER: Three necessary items for internal liberation: Wine, Maror, Matzah

Posted on 04 April 2019 by LeslieM

The three most important ingredients at the seder table [for Passover] are the wine, matzah and maror (bitter herbs) for these three items capture the three foundational ideas that can allow us to set ourselves free.

A) The first step is wine. Wine possesses deep potency.

“When wine enters, secrets come out,” says the Talmud. 

Wine represents the “secrets” in us — for wine itself is a “secret:” It is initially hidden and concealed within the grape, and it takes much labor to extract it from the source; the grapes have to be crushed and the wine to ferment. Wine, an intoxicating beverage, represents the deeply concealed powerful forces lingering within the human psyche.

The first step in setting yourself free is realizing how much more there is to you than what meets the eye. You must recognize your potential — what you were really meant to be, what you are capable of becoming — for you to break out of the chains.

B) This comes together with step two — maror, which represents the bitterness caused by slavery. In order to set yourself free, you have to be able to stare the pain you endured in the face. Repressing pain and making believe it does not exist, only buries it deeper into our psyche. On the night of our freedom, we have to return to the “maror.” We must gaze into our pain, feel it, sense it, grieve for our hurt and, then, as we are staring into the pain, we will find the inner, secret spark of hope and light buried within it.

If we avoid the pain, we can’t discover its inner light. Only when we gaze at it, can we extract the ember hidden within the ashes.

C) Then we have the critical step of matzah. We eat the matzah, says the Haggadah, because the Jews did not have time to wait until the dough had risen; they rushed out of Egypt. I want to ask you … They waited for 210 years… They could not wait another few hours? What was the rush? And even if they were in a rush, why is that such a central theme in the narrative that for thousands of years we are eating only matzah and avoiding all leavened bread? What happened to the virtue of patience?

Answer: The greatest enemy to setting yourself free is delaying things: tough decisions and bold moves. The message of matzah is when it comes to setting yourself free, you have no time to wait even an extra 18 minutes. Do it now! Make that call now. Send that e-mail now. Make that move now. Set up that meeting now. Make that decision now. Start the new behavior now. Confront the situation now. Start doing it now. If it is worth doing, then do it now. Because, as my Rebbe would say, “We want Moshiach NOW.” We want redemption now.

Community Passover Seder — R.S.V.P. at www.JewishLHP.com.

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: Watch your mouth!

Posted on 28 March 2019 by LeslieM

President Calvin Coolidge was known to be a man of very few words. He was nicknamed “Silent Cal” because of this propensity. His wife, Grace, once related the story of a young woman who happened to be seated next to her husband at a dinner party. The young woman told the president that she had made a bet with a friend that she could get at least three words of conversation from him. President Coolidge quietly responded, “You lose.” He had learned and mastered the art of carefully selecting words that kept his responses brief and to the point. It is a skill that we would do well to develop for use in our conversations and communications with each other. Mature people have learned not to utter everything that comes to their minds, especially in heated and emotional conversations. They have realized that there is a responsibility that comes with speech and thereby they choose their words carefully.

In a world where passions are easily inflamed by the words that we use, James 3:5 reminds us just how dangerous loose lips and an unrestrained tongue can be. It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that (MSG).

In recent months, we’ve seen images of the awesome devastation caused by fires in California. Thousands of acres burned up, numerous homes and neighborhoods devastated, and the heartbreak of families that have lost everything. It is reported that the 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and has caused the greatest destruction on record in California. When you consider that a tiny spark can produce a raging inferno in nature you can begin to understand the destructive power of the tongue.

How many friendships have been ruined, lives irreparably damaged, marriages broken, fights erupted and wars declared because of the negative potential of the tongue? It may be small in comparison to other parts of the human body, but the tongue can be lethal. It is our chief means of communication and expression and is the first skill that we master after birth. Consider that, even before forming words and coherent speech, babies announce their presence, demand attention and have their needs tended to by crying out loudly, and making noises with their mouths. Mastery of speech and language enables us to communicate clearly as we grow. Consequently, we’re conditioned in our relationships to respond to what people say in our conversations. Maturity is revealed in using the right words at the appropriate times.

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8 NKJV). Ouch! With a direct and blunt comment James further reminds us of the attention we need to pay to our words. Thoughtless or emotionally charged speech can get out of control very quickly and change the mood of a conversation. Some people pride themselves on speaking their minds and have no qualms about making their points in a direct manner, but caution is required to avoid escalating the dialogue into an argument.

Washington Irving, who wrote Rip Van Winkle, once said, “A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.” James suggests putting a bridle on our tongues (James 1:26)to keep our words and conversations in check. In other words, exercise some restraint when you speak.

William Norris, an American journalist, once wrote great advice for tongue control: “If your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care: To whom you speak; of whom you speak; and how, and when, and where.”

Perhaps if we simply listened to what our parents, teachers and elders told us growing up, we would have better control over our unruly tongues — “Think before you speak, choose your words carefully, and watch your mouth!”

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: God gives more than you can ever ask

Posted on 20 March 2019 by LeslieM

6 “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7

You never forget the first time you move away from home for an extended period of time. In my case, I lived in California for a year leaving my home state (Minnesota) behind. Obviously, this wasn’t the last time I left home for an extended period of time, hence I am writing from sunny Florida, my home for the last 22 years.

When you move away from home, you gravitate toward people who serve as surrogate family members. One particular woman was my adopted Grandma and, like my grandmas back home, she was a person of deep and profound faith. Her name was Margaret.

When I went to Margaret’s small apartment, I noticed a few things that left an impression with me. The first thing I noticed was a map of the world with push pins denoting the location of missionaries. Every day, Margaret would pray for each missionary, send and receive correspondence, and share their stories. She was elderly and dependent upon others for transportation but she felt that she was playing an important role in mission. Indeed, she was.

But it was the prayer journal that I remember the best. She followed the advice of a friend and wrote down her prayer requests, prayers of supplication. And, then, in another part of her journal, she wrote the answers for the purpose of giving thanks.

When Margaret began her journey of prayer with her prayer journal, her prayers of supplication outnumbered her prayers of thanksgiving. That soon changed.

As she kept journaling, she found it easier to have two separate journals, one for supplication and one for thanksgiving. There simply was not enough room for one journal.

Pretty soon, she discovered that she was spending more time praying prayers of thanksgiving as opposed to prayers of supplication. She told me: “Sometimes, I just spend hours giving thanks.”

When I consider the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians: “supplication with thanksgiving,”
I am reminded of the importance of paying attention to the answers. God answers prayers before we even have a chance to ask. We must be alert, aware and grateful.

But I also consider this saintly woman of faith who really didn’t have a lot of possessions. She didn’t have transportation. She was dependent upon church members to get to worship. What she had was faith and what she could do was pray.

Missionaries benefited from her prayers all around the world. Church members were blessed by her pleasant demeanor and her genuine kindness. I was blessed by her profound wisdom and the strength of her faith, not to mention that I felt I had a Grandma nearby when I needed it. I think Margaret gave more than she ever realized, but I know one thing for sure — Margaret would want to remind my readers that God gave her even more than she ever asked.

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: Purim & Unity

Posted on 07 March 2019 by LeslieM

In the Purim story, read on Purim in the Book of Esther, the Persian Prime Minister, Haman, persuades the Persian king Achashverosh, to consent to a genocidal plan to annihilate the entire Jewish people. Haman offered the king a huge sum of money.

Reish Lakish said: It is revealed and known in advance to G-d that in the future Haman was going to weigh out shekels against the Jewish people; therefore, He arranged that the Jewish people’s shekels preceded Haman’s shekels.

What does this mean?

This Shabbos, Jews the world over read, in addition to the weekly Torah portion, an extra Torah, the “portion of the coins.” This section of the Torah records the mitzvah incumbent upon the people of Israel, to make a yearly contribution of a half shekel to cover the cost of all communal Temple offerings.

This mitzvah given to the Jewish people in the desert applied to all following generations as well. In every generation, every Jew was required to make an annual contribution of half his country’s standard coin, to cover the cost of the communal offering brought in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

So Reish Lakish is telling us that since G-d knew that in the future Haman was going to weigh out a hefty number of shekels—15,000,000 shekalim against the Jewish people, He arranged that the Jewish people’s shekels precede Haman’s shekels, to cancel out the power of the money which Haman gave to the Persian monarch.

Although this mitzvah is not applicable today, since we have no Temple, it is still a custom in Jewish communities to read this Torah portion at this time of the year. In the U.S., we contribute a silver 50-cent piece, since the dollar coin is our country’s standard coinage, just as the shekel was during the time of Moses.

This seems quite bizarre, to insist on Jews giving an imperfect gift!

The Torah wants each of us to contribute a whole complete shekel. But if I were instructed to contribute a complete shekel on my own, I could begin to think that I am a complete being in and of myself, since I have contributed a complete coin.

The Torah is attempting to teach us that you and I are really one. For me, the real me, the G-dly me, to contribute a complete shekel, I must contribute just a half shekel, allowing the other half to be contributed by my fellow Jew. When you and I contribute each a half shekel, each of us has, indeed, contributed a complete shekel.

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CLERGY CORNER: Diversity and Unity

Posted on 28 February 2019 by LeslieM

Rainbows are beautiful displays of nature that always seem to attract attention whenever and wherever they show up in the sky. Wikipedia defines a rainbow as “a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.” They most often appear in the form of a multi-colored arc and are usually displayed in an area to the opposite of the position of the sun. Their color is attributed to the fact that water droplets break white sunlight into the seven colors of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

In Genesis 9:13 God tells Noah, “I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.” Rainbows serve as beautiful reminders of the presence, power, and promise of God.

Like the rainbow, we are God’s handiwork in nature, creating beauty in our unity and reflecting His purpose and glory. From the beginning, God’s intention was for His diverse creation to exist in harmony and collaboration. Each aspect of the created world had a purpose and function that was to complement the others. Though different and distinct, the earth, sky, sun, stars, moon, animals, fish, vegetation and mankind were expected to coexist in peace.

Sin, birthed through Adam’s disobedience, ruined God’s original intent for man’s relationships with Himself and others, but does not exempt us from the need to fulfill His purpose. The Bible consistently urges us to brotherhood and oneness.

In the Genesis 9 account which details events after the Flood, verse 19 relates that from Noah’s three sons “the whole earth was populated.” In Acts 17:26, Paul proclaims that God “Has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Psalm 133:1 exclaims, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” In John 17:21, Jesus prayed for those who would believe in Him “that they may be one.” All these statements indicate that despite our undeniable differences we can and should live in unity and accord. We are related in our common humanity and connected by our need for the same things. We are family!

Too often we spotlight our differences and become exclusive because of our distinctions. History has revealed that this can lead to tensions, disagreements, injustice, brutality, racism and war. Instead, we should appreciate our uniqueness, collaborate on our common interests, and celebrate our collective achievements. Our differing perspectives, abilities and contributions can be synergized to accomplish collectively what none of us could do on our own. The reality of our undeniable diversity should never be allowed to prevent the results of our indisputable unity. As Dr. King famously remarked, in his “I Have A Dream” speech, “With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

Musical notes are each distinct and unique for the sound that they make. On their own that uniqueness, though unequaled and spectacular, can become monotonous and uninspiring. The significance of the diversity of each note is not fully appreciated until they are combined in a melody that is sweet to the ear, sensible to the mind and soothing to the soul. The keys on any piano or organ are designed and intended to function in an intentionally harmonious collaboration of music and song. No one key can create a satisfying melody. So too our diversity is best appropriated when we recognize our connectedness and learn to live in purposeful unity.

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: Love thy neighbor

Posted on 21 February 2019 by LeslieM

You must love your neighbor as yourself.”

Leviticus 19:18

Who is my neighbor?”

Luke 19:29

What does ecumenical dialogue look like? I think of two images. The first image is the more formal. Learned scholars and theologians from one religious denomination sit down across the table with learned scholars and theologians from another denomination. One scholar shares her or his thoughts, usually with a vocabulary that comes from years and years of schooling. Another scholar shares her or his thoughts, again, with an impressive vocabulary. Differences are recognized yet common ground is reached. And then, two or more theologians get together and write a document that comes from their dialogue, and, of course, the language is lofty and academic. Everybody shakes hands and goes home feeling that something great was accomplished, and, indeed, something great was accomplished. There is just one problem. Only a few people are really aware of the dialogue. A few people get a copy of the document that is derived from the dialogue, and, of the few people who read it, only those with advanced degrees understand it. It is important stuff, to be sure, but it is “jargon” and only those who know the jargon benefit.

Here is another image. Two neighbors of different faiths get together and have a cup of coffee or tea. They sit across the table and share their faith with each other. They do not judge. They do not proselytize. They simply talk and listen. They love and respect each other and, when their meeting is over, they both leave informed of each other’s faith and become closer friends.

There is no jargon, or documents that come with language that doesn’t translate well into everyday language. It’s just two friends building a bond and sharing each other’s faith.

So I ask you, of these two images of ecumenical dialogue, which one is going to impact your community more?

The word ecumenical comes from the Greek “Oukumene,” which simply means, “community.” Ecumenical people are community-minded people. Put simply — ecumenical people are good neighbors looking out for the neighborhood, both local and global.

When Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:18Love your neighbor as yourself,” a lawyer asked him “who is my neighbor?” The answer was the parable of the Good Samaritan. I don’t know if that was the answer that the lawyer was looking for, but the people of Judea and Galilee had no time for the people of Samaria. The fact that the Samaritan was the hero of the story would have made many listeners uncomfortable, perhaps even angry.

I would venture to say that the same question could be asked today and a similar answer would make some people uncomfortable, maybe even angry? If we look throughout our neighborhood and beyond our community, you will discover that many of the people with whom we coexist do not believe what we believe, vote the way we vote, look alike, dress alike or like the same kind of foods. It is no news that we live in the midst of diversity, especially in south Florida, and, if we want our community to be stronger, than we must heed the call to be better neighbors. Loving our neighbor as ourselves requires us to get uncomfortable and challenges our limits. Yet, good neighbors, this is crucial.

Who is going to lead the charge? The answer is you. Theologians can only do so much. Community leaders can only do so much. But if you invite your neighbor out for coffee and engage in friendly conversation, you just may move a mountain or two.

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 is a four letter word

Posted on 14 February 2019 by LeslieM


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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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

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

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

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

NLT

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

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

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CLERGY CORNER: Is your spiritual vision 20/20?

Posted on 07 February 2019 by LeslieM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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