| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: 80 years since Kristallnacht Chanukah – The Miracle

Posted on 06 December 2018 by LeslieM

For me, this miracle is most vividly expressed in the following episode.

It was the eighth night of Chanukah in Kiel, Germany, a small town with a Jewish population of 500 (Germany at the time had a Jewish population of 500,000). That year, 1931, the last night Chanukah fell on Friday evening, and Rabbi Akiva Boruch Posner, spiritual leader of the town, was hurrying to light the Menorah before the Shabbat set in.

Directly across the Posner’s home stood the Nazi headquarters in Kiel, displaying the dreaded Nazi Party flag in the cold December night. With the eight lights of the Menorah glowing brightly in her window, Rabbi Posner’s wife, Rachel, snapped a photo of the Menorah right before Shabbat, and captured the Nazi building and flag in the background.

Mrs. Posner wrote a few lines in German on the back of the photo:

Chanukah, 5692 (1931). ‘Judea dies,’ thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever,’ thus respond the Chanukah lights.

If you lived at that time in Kiel, or anywhere in Germany, what seemed to be more powerful and everlasting? The menorah or the swastika? One year later, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and the Nazis held a torch-lit procession through the famous Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to celebrate Hitler’s seizure of power (on Jan. 30, 1933).

That gate became the symbol of the Nazi regime. Dozens of parades, motorcades, celebrations and rallies were held by the Brandenburg Gate. Hundreds of thousands of German would gather at that beautiful site, the symbol of Berlin’s splendor and power, to salute the Fuhrer and his 1000-Year-Reich.

Then came the onset of the Holocaust and the Final Solution — 80 years ago, on Nov. 9, 1938, with Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” when 30,000 Jews were deported to Concentration Camps, hundreds beaten to death, thousands of shuls, Jewish homes, and stores burnt to the ground.

80 years have passed. A few nights ago, I spoke to my colleague, Rabbi Yehudah Teichtel, Chief Rabbi of Berlin. And this is what he shared with me.

A few days ago he went to visit the President of Germany, Frank Walter Steinmeier, to discuss the 80th anniversary since the onset of the Holocaust.

Rabbi Teichtel shared with the German President the words that he heard from the person who sent him to Berlin, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, that in the place where we saw the greatest darkness we must bring in the greatest light.

So the President of Germany said to the Chabad Rabbi of Berlin that he wants Germany to put up this coming Chanukah (which falls out a few weeks after the 80th anniversary) a massive grand Menorah right at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, in the exact spot where Hitler stood and gave his fiery speeches on the urgent need to rid the world from the bacteria of the Jewish people, their Torah and their G-d. [The menorah was put up and lit starting Dec. 2].

And then the German President asked Rabbi Teichtel if he himself can have the honor to light the menorah?!

And the good Rabbi said, “Yes, of course. You will be lighting the Shamash, that first candle from which we kindle all the other candles.”

So, this Chanukah 2018, [people could] go to the Brandenburg Gate and observe the President of Germany lighting the Shamash of the Chanukah menorah of Chabad in Berlin in the spot where the greatest enemy of the Jewish people stood just a few decades ago.

So, now, friends come back with me to the photo taken in 1931, in Kiel Germany. A wise Jewish woman, Rebbetzin Rachel Posner, wrote on her photo: Chanukah, 5692 (1931). ‘Judea dies,’ thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever,’ thus respond the Chanukah lights.

I ask you: Who was right?!

And by the way, both the menorah lit in Kiel in 1931 and the photo survived World War II, because the Rabbi and his wife fled to Israel in 1934, and their grandson Yehudah Mansbuch inherited both and donated them to Yad V’shem.

Yehudah lives today in the city of Haifa with a large family. And each Chanukah, Yad V’shem delivers to his home for eight days the Menorah used by his grandfather in Germany, on the window sill opposite the Swastika. There, in home, in the eternal Jewish homeland, he lights the menorah with his children. And he shows them each year the photo his grandmother took and her inscription.

So I ask you, who was right?! Who triumphed the swastika or the menorah?

Special thanks to my friend and colleague Rabbi YY Jacobson for putting this story on paper.

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: … freely you have received, freely give

Posted on 29 November 2018 by LeslieM

Many of our most fervent prayers include reminders of lessons our Lord teaches us. A number of years ago I read a prayer, used at the end of a worship service, to dismiss the congregation. The prayer included an important reminder – “freely you have received, freely give.” I have used this prayer of dismissal ever since. It seems particularly important at this time of year.

Our Lord created a world with seasonal cycles. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that “to every thing there is a season . . . a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” Western Christianity observes the time of planting in the spring of each year. The observance is called Rogation Days and includes this prayer for a bountiful harvest: “Almighty God, we beseech thee to pour forth thy blessing upon this land, and to give us a fruitful season.” And then, as the seasons of the years progress, most religions and cultures have traditions of giving thanks, during the harvest season, for what our good earth has provided. Here in the United States, we give thanks, on Thanksgiving Day, often times with this prayer: “Almighty God, we give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase.”

Our Lord’s promise to us is that we will freely receive what we truly need. However, there is a caveat to this promise which is spelled out in the book of Deuteronomy: “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessings of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.” What does this mean? It may be helpful to think of this giving and receiving as our bank account with God. He will always provide us with the basics — his unconditional love and support — but if we look to receive anything beyond that, then what we can expect is dependent upon what we give back to God from what he has given us. If we give back nothing, if we put nothing in our bank account with him, then we cannot expect to receive anything beyond the basics. Our relationship with God is simple; all we need to do is listen and live according to his lessons.

Why is the freely giving part particularly important at this time of year? The answer is obvious. Most governments, institutions, and churches are making their plans and budgets for the coming year in support of the needs of our commonweal. Whether these needs may be met is dependent, to a great degree, on the willingness of God’s people, to generously give back a portion of the time, treasure and talent they have received from Him. Can our God count on each of us? I recently saw a survey which indicated that charitable giving increased in 2017 by 5 percent. This sounds encouraging, but the survey also indicated that current giving is about 2.5 percent of income, whereas it was 3.3 percent during the Great Depression. Not a hopeful trend!

If we are to model our lives based on the teachings of our Lord, and if we are to uphold the brave words in our Declaration of Independence to further “preserve and protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” then the challenge to be met by God’s people is clear. When we gather at our Thanksgiving tables this year, we must thank God for the blessings we have “freely received” from him, and then commit to “freely give” back to him a generous portion of those blessings so that in this world, his will be done. Holy Scripture teaches us that “the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” The harvest is God’s will and we are the laborers that will bring it to fruition. May our God bless us all during this Thanksgiving season.

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: To whom are you thankful?

Posted on 21 November 2018 by LeslieM

In this season, we are often reminded and encouraged to be grateful for what we have and enjoy, but there is seldom any direction as to whom we should be thankful. I recently read a story of a blind boy stationed on a sidewalk with a sign identifying his infirmity. Strangers would pass by and place coins in his hat. A gentleman stopped to observe him for a while, then took the sign, wrote something else on the back of it and put it in its place. People began to contribute even more money when they read the sign: “it’s a beautiful day but I can’t see it.” The point of the story was that we should be thankful for the abilities we possess but often take for granted. There was no mention as to whom we should direct our gratitude, however.

As a believer, I am convinced by Scripture and experience that God is the source of our blessings. There was a time when most would readily agree with that sentiment. I was intrigued to learn that all 50 states acknowledge God in the preamble to their constitutions. The Alabama Constitution states, “We the people of the State of Alabama…invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution…” California’s Preamble: “We, the people of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom…” Connecticut states, “The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy…” Florida’s Preamble: “We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty…establish this Constitution.” Vermont’s Preamble: “Whereas all government ought to…enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man…”

Earlier generations willingly noted the goodness of God and rightfully appreciated His Providence. Technological and scientific advancements have certified our potential and made us more confident in our pursuits, but experience reveals that we do not have mastery over every circumstance. We owe our gratitude to someone greater than ourselves for the ability to breathe, think, act and achieve. Biblical admonitions abound concerning our need to be thankful to God. Psalm 106:1, “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.” Colossians 4:2, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.Isaiah 12:4-5, “And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.”

It is not enough to be merely grateful or thankful for something, one must necessarily be grateful to the person who made the thing possible. As a boy I learned the popular doxology which begins with, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” It established the fact that any good, beneficial and pleasant thing or experience had its origin in the favor of the Almighty God. As I look back over a lifetime of experiences, I am more and more appreciative to God for His undeniable goodness. Thanksgiving has become more than a seasonal acknowledgement of blessings. It is a daily practice that begins with the realization that I’ve awakened to a new day.

Hailey Bartholomew from Australia discovered how to overcome the sense of being stuck on the treadmill of life: find something daily for which to be thankful. It revolutionized her life as she began to see things she had never noticed before. She learned to live with gratitude and celebrate life. Why not follow her lead and cultivate a lifestyle of appreciation to God for His daily expressions of mercy and grace? In this season and always, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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: “Give thanks in all circumstances”

Posted on 15 November 2018 by LeslieM

(I Thessalonians 5:18a)

On behalf of Zion Lutheran Church and myself, Pastor Jeff Gross, I want to wish our community a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving. For those who are traveling, be safe. Enjoy the company of the people you love. And let thankfulness and gratitude be the focus of all of your celebrations. God has been good to us and let us not forget His many blessings.

When should we give thanks? When we feel like being thankful? How about when we don’t feel like being thankful? When we are in good spirits? How about when we aren’t in good spirits? Being thankful at all times is a tall order, when you think about it. Is this even a practical expectation? I am glad you asked. I actually have an answer.

I was at a church conference last week in north-central Florida. I had a chance to stay with my son, to cut down some expenses, and when the day was over I could visit him. This was a gift for which I am very grateful.

And as I was driving toward his apartment, my car started to shake. The tire light never came on so I dismissed the idea that it was a flat. Maybe the car was out of alignment. Who knows? I just knew that I had to bring it to a shop the next morning because it was a Sunday night, not the ideal time for car problems. Monday would be better.

The next morning, the tire blew out and plans changed. I was in a strange neighborhood. I called AAA and they were running late … Monday is a busy day. And, when they came, I knew I had to get a new tire, which isn’t cheap. And this would also, potentially, delay my morning.

I wasn’t feeling grateful. I wasn’t in the right mood. This is one circumstance when I didn’t want to give thanks. Just then something snapped (in a good way).

I give no credit to myself. This was a God moment. I realized that I was fortunate. I have a car to get me around. A lot of people don’t have cars. I have a cell phone that enables me to call for help and a AAA membership. I have the means to get a new tire. I had a chance to go to a conference on Ministry with my fellow Lutheran pastors. I had some quality time with my son the night before.

When the AAA person helped me with my tire, I was in great spirits. I confused the clerk at the tire place by being unusually happy with a blown out tire. Most people are in bad spirits when this happens. In fairness, so was I, until I “snapped.” And, when all was said and done, I had a new tire and got to the conference with plenty of time to spare. I thank God that I had a flat tire. Yes, I thank God I had a flat tire. It grounded me in the reality that I am fortunate and it shifted my attitude in the right direction. Call it a “gratitude attitude.”

I may come across as a starry eyed optimist but I can assure you that I can be a real curmudgeon, especially if I don’t have my coffee. Truth be told, something as simple as counting blessings can change your entire day, your entire outlook on life. An inconvenience can become a gift.

These words from the Bible have practical implications. If you are having a bad day that is the BEST time to count your blessings.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I know that it is the one day a year set aside to give thanks. One day is woefully inadequate considering how blessed we truly are. Every day should be Thanksgiving. Every moment should be an opportunity for gratefulness.

I want you to feel as good as I did that Monday morning when a flat tire actually made my day. The good news is that you can. It only requires some reflection and perspective. You don’t have to look far to find a blessing. And, when you do, celebrate. The quality of your day depends upon it.

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: Thanksgiving

Posted on 07 November 2018 by LeslieM

Are you a complainer or a thankful person? You cannot be both, so you must be one or the other. Every group seems to have one complainer that everyone tries to avoid. If you do not have a complainer in your group, then it is probably you! Which do you think God wants you to be? Take a few minutes and write down the things you are most thankful for on a sheet of paper or index card. The reason why I want you to write them down is so you can go back and look at it, to remember what God has done in your life. So when things do not go right, instead of feeling down in the dumps, we could look back at what God has done for us. We tend to forget all that He has done for us.

1THESSALONIANS 5:18

18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. NLT

Right in the middle of whatever challenges you are facing, you need to be people who give thanks. I know that it doesn’t seem to make sense sometimes when we are going through very difficult circumstances, to say, “Thank you, Lord, for these difficult circumstances in my life,” when we really wish God would just fix it and make it go away. Instead of complaining about our situation, we need to look back over the year on how God has worked on our behalf and start to thank Him knowing that He is bigger than all our circumstances and will help us through them all.

PHILIPPIANS 4:6

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.NLT

Thankfulness is an attitude. It is a condition of the heart. What kind of condition is your heart in, not just this Thanksgiving, but year-round? If we are going to have an attitude of being thankful, then it must be something that we do all year long and not just one or two days out of the year. We need to have an attitude of gratitude.

PSALMS 100:4

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.— NLT

This is a Psalm of Thanksgiving and refers to a public acknowledgement of God. We all have things that go wrong in our lives every day. If we learn to focus on the things we are thankful for and not all the negative things in our lives then we can begin to learn to be truly happy and content. This is something that should actually show in our outward actions and attitudes. God has blessed us and given us so many things to be thankful for that, we should be full of joy and peace every day.

Remember the things that God has saved you from and do not live in the past. Our everyday lives should show that we are thankful and grateful for all God has done for us. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember the original spirit of the oldest of all American holidays — gratefulness to God. In the middle of all the hustle and bustle, take time to give thanks and praise to God for all the wonderful things in your life.

(Reprint from 11-19-2012)

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: What is a Jew?

Posted on 01 November 2018 by LeslieM

One of the greatest writers of all times, Leo Tolstoy, wrote:

What is a Jew? Let us see what kind of peculiar creature the Jew is, which all the rulers and all the nations have separately abused and molested, oppressed and persecuted, trampled and butchered, burned and hanged – and in spite of all this yet alive.

What is a Jew who has never allowed himself to be led astray by all the earthy possessions which his oppressors and persecutors constantly offered in order that he should change his faith and forsake his own Jewish religion?

The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down from Heaven the everlasting fire and has illumined with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring and fountain of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religions.

The Jew is the pioneer of liberty. Even in those olden days, when the people where divided into but two distinct classes, slaves and masters – even so long ago had a law of Moses prohibited the practice of keeping a person in bondage for more than six years.

This Jew is the pioneer of civilization. Ignorance was condemned in olden Palestine even more than it is today in civilized Europe.

The Jew is the emblem of civil and religious toleration. ‘Love the stranger and the sojourner.’ Moses commands, ‘Because you have been strangers in the land of Egypt.’ And this was said in those remote and savage times when the principal ambition of the races and nations consisted in crushing and enslaving one another.

The Jew is the emblem of eternity. He whom neither slaughter or torture of thousands of years could destroy, he whom neither fire nor sword nor inquisition was able to wipe off the face of the Earth.

He who was the first to produce the oracles of G-d. He who has been for so long the guardian of prophecy, and who transmitted it to the rest of the world – such a Nation cannot be destroyed.

The Jew is as everlasting as is eternity itself.”

Agents of love and hope

This is what hundreds of generations of Jews believed and lived. It is what they taught their children, it is what every Jewish mother shared with her child through lullabies and conversation. This is what our grandmothers, over thousands of years, taught us:

At Sinai, we were given a torch to illuminate the world with love, goodness, kindness, holiness and give history the dignity of purpose.

At Sinai, we were provided with the strongest argument for peace between people: that we were all created by the same G-d, and we all reflect G-d. Without this belief, is there anything that really unites us all?

At Sinai, we were entrusted with the Torah, a blueprint, a manual to heal the world, to reveal the innate organic oneness in every human being, as well as in all of humanity and the entire universe, and bring the world, step by step, to a state of redemption, to the coming of Moshiach.

At Sinai, we were summoned to pierce the veneer of materialism which eclipses the inner soul of every person and the inner soul of the world. The entire Torah and each mitzvah teaches us how to access our inner soul, our inner G-dliness, and the inner G-dliness of the universe. Our responsibility is to blast this truth to the world, with the way we live, the way we interact with people, the way we treat our children and our neighbors, until the entire world will bespeak the truth that “G-d is One and His name is One.”

At Sinai, we were given the opportunity to experience intimacy with our Creator, with the source of all life. With the study of Torah, we kiss G-d. With the action of a mitzvah, we embrace G-d.

And when Jewish children got this message, they naturally proclaimed:

How fortunate we are! How Good is our portion; how sweet is our lot; how splendid is our inheritance!”

This article is in Memory of the 11 souls ripped from this world by an act of Anti-Semitism.

May their Memory be an everlasting Lesson to us all That we all need to illuminate this world with love, goodness and kindness!

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 value of patience

Posted on 25 October 2018 by LeslieM

One of the challenges that many of us face in 21st Century living is the ability to be patient. The advancements and conveniences of our modern day have conditioned us to expect immediate gratification rather than eventual fulfillment. ATM machines give us instant cash, drive-thru windows enable us to get our meals in mere minutes and self-checkout areas help us to avoid the lines at the grocery store. As a result, we attempt to get more done since we expect speedy execution, but we often face frustration when we are delayed in accomplishing our objectives.

Nature’s way to fulfillment always involves conception, then process and eventual manifestation. We are not born fully mature, for example, but must go through stages of development which lead to our becoming fully grown. In agriculture, farmers know that the seed they plant today will need time to develop into the crop that they desire. Wheat, the most widely harvested crop in the world, takes about 120 days between the actions of planting and reaping. Lottery tickets and casinos tease us with the promise of quick riches, but any financial planner worth his fee will advise you that real wealth is amassed over time. A quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson advises, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

The Bible has much to say about patience and our need to possess it. In Ecclesiastes 7:8 (KJV), King Solomon observed, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” The apostle Paul proclaims, in Romans 5:3 (MKJV) that believers should “Glory in afflictions…knowing that afflictions work out patience.” A similar sentiment is expressed in James 1:3 (NKJV), “The testing of your faith produces patience.” Galatians 6:9 (NKJV) draws upon the agricultural principles related to securing a harvest: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

The value of patience is in its ability to keep us steady and grounded in the process between desire and fulfillment. It is cultivated in the delays and disappointments of life as we attempt to achieve our goals for work, family, education and the like. As Billy Graham once remarked, “Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.” To resist the natural ebb and flow of life is to live with daily stress, anxiety and frustration. We cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we respond. Better to relax and trust that if you wait, the good that you desire and work for will indeed come.

Pearle Wait, the inventor of Jell-O, wasn’t satisfied with the meager results he saw after a just few months of peddling his product door to door in 1897. He sold all the rights to it for $450 to a man who apparently had a better understanding of marketing and patience. In less than eight years, the $450 investment became a $1 million business. To this day, millions of boxes of Jell-O are sold in supermarkets and stores. If Mr. Wait had only waited…

In our fast-paced world we would do well to curb the penchant for immediacy. Not everything will lend itself to instant gratification. Things of value tend to develop over time. Diamonds, pearls, success, true love and strong relationships all require patience with the process necessary to make them a reality. Pray for patience and practice patience with yourself and others. If, as Saint Augustine is noted to have said, “Patience is the companion of wisdom,” we should passionately pursue and possess it.

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: An Act of God

Posted on 17 October 2018 by LeslieM

Our prayers go out to those who experienced the devastation of Hurricane Michael. In the aftermath, we pray for the restoration of the communities in the Panhandle. We continue to pray for our community as well through this season. When one part of our state is hurting, we all share the pain together.

I know that the phrase “act of God” is one used by insurance companies and will continue to be used regardless of my commentary. As a person who advocates God for a living, I do feel that I can weigh in on this phrase and its usage as well as challenge the people who use this phrase to broaden their perspective.

When a tornado devastates a town we call it an “act of God.” When a river floods acres of farmland, we call it an “act of God.” When an earthquake hits a poor nation killing tens of thousands of people, we call it an “act of God.” It seems that we avoid the word “God” in public lest we offend anybody, yet atheists, agnostics and believers alike use the phrase “act of God” when a tornado, flood, earthquake or a hurricane devastates their community.

Let us talk about times when you do not hear the phrase “act of God,” and you probably should. When my family rented kayaks and explored the mangroves on the gulf coast. I was so overwhelmed by God’s creation evident with the wildlife that I called it an “act of God.” When I went hiking with my Boy Scout troop through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and saw the majesty of snow top mountains in the heat of the summer, I couldn’t help but call it an “act of God.” When snorkeling in Key West with my church’s Youth Group near a natural reef with schools of colorful fish surrounding me I could not help but call it an “act of God.” We reserve the phrase “act of God” when we talk about the devastation of nature but what about nature’s splendor?

I know, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, neighbors are going to pull together and help each other and form a lifelong bond. I call this an “act of God.” I know that families will mourn the loss of their home but come to a profound realization that they are blessed with their family who are safe and sound. When the gratitude of family eclipses the loss of material items, this is what I call an “act of God.” I know that people from all over the state and country will come from churches, synagogues and mosques lending a hand, praying and setting aside their divisions for the purpose of doing “acts of God.”

God created nature and nature seems to have a mind of its own. Hurricanes, tornados, floods and earthquakes have been our constant companions and when we experience “acts of nature” we respond with “acts of God.”

I grew up in a state where blizzards happen in the winter and tornados happen in the summer. I went to college in a community with a river that flooded almost every spring after the thaw of snow and ice. I did my pastoral internship literally on the San Andreas Fault and experienced an earthquake. And, for the last 20 plus years, I have lived in Florida and can recall several hurricanes.

I am pretty sure blizzards and tornados occurred in Minnesota long before my family settled there. I know that the Red River of the north flooded Fargo, North Dakota long before there was a place called Fargo. The San Andreas Fault went through the San Bernardino Mountains long before San Andreas and San Bernardino were even born. And you can bet Florida always had hurricanes even before we started naming them.

The only thing more constant than “acts of Nature” is God. Like “acts of Nature,” God has always been our constant companion. In the wake of natural disaster, it is my prayer that good things will happen. And when that does, then I will know what to call it. It is an “act of God.”

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: Clergy appreciation

Posted on 11 October 2018 by LeslieM

Since 1992, the month of October has been Clergy Appreciation Month. It is designed for you to encourage and thank the religious leaders in your life. You should let your pastors know that you love them and support them. In addition, let them know why you appreciate their hard work and labor of love. We tend to always hear about all the Ministers that mess up or make a mistake, but we don’t hear very much at all about all the good things that are happening in churches all across the country. Pastors are saving lives, helping families, feeding the poor, and helping hurting people and we do it with God’s help. The scriptures I have here are ones that you really need to pay attention to and apply them to your life.

HEBREWS 13:7

7 Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. NLT

The ministry provided by pastors and their families is very unique. God has chosen them to watch over His children and take care of the spiritual well-being of their congregation.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:12-13

12 Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.

13 Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. NLT

When a pastor becomes worn down and worn out, the very souls of his congregants are at risk. Pastors and their families live under unbelievable stress and strain. Their lives are played out in a glass house, with the whole congregation and the whole public scrutinizing their every move. They are expected to have model families, to be wonderful people, to always be ready to help, to never have problems, and to have all the answers you need to keep your own lives on track. These are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone, yet most of us are let down when a pastor becomes overwhelmed, seems sad, lets us down, or totally burns out. That is why God teaches us to identify and honor His servants.

1 TIMOTHY 5:17

17 Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. NLT

The good news is that you can make a difference! Clergy Appreciation Month is one way you can return the favor and encourage your spiritual leaders and let them know that you care about them.

There are four easy ways to help your pastors and their families feel appreciated:

1. Buy them a card

2. Buy them a gift card to a restaurant, movie theatre, or department store

3. Share with them, in writing, how much they have blessed you and helped you and your family

4. Encourage others to do the same. Show appreciation and honor your pastor and his family this year. It will encourage them more than you ever may realize.

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: Strive to be a man

Posted on 04 October 2018 by LeslieM

On Yom Kippur, the High Priest performed the intricate and nuanced service in the Holy Temple. At the conclusion of it all, the Torah offers its final stipulation: Nobody may be present with him at the time. The High Priest must be there all by himself.

But why? Why does the Torah care so much if someone else was with him in the sacred space of the Temple?

Similarly, when G-d summons Moses to ascend Mt. Sinai to receive the second set of Tablets to bring down to the people on Yom Kippur, He instructs Moses: “Come up in the morning to Mt. Sinai… And no man should ascend with you. No man should appear on the entire mountain.”

Why? What’s the big deal if someone else ascends the mountain?

When the greatest Jewish leader is introduced to us for the first time, the Torah tells us that he left the palace where he was raised, went out to his brothers, and observed an Egyptian beating a Jew to death. The Torah says these words: “He turned here, and there, and he saw there was no man. He struck the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.”

This is the deeper meaning in the famous Mishnah in the Ethics of the Fathers, quoting the great sage Hillel: “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.”

It is the source of the expression, “Be a Man!” But what exactly is the meaning of his teaching of Hillel? If everyone around me is behaving like a beast, I should still be a Mentch? Obviously! Do I need Hillel to teach that to me?

The Chassidic masters explain that Hillel was teaching us something deeper. How do you become a real man? A real person? How do you reach your potential? If you strive to be a man, you have to imagine that there is no one else. I have a task to do right here, right now, that nobody else in the past, present, and future, can achieve.

Every man is obliged to say,” say the Sages, “the world was created for me.”

This is not narcissism. It means that I matter. I matter for real. There is something only I can achieve in the world. And the whole world is waiting for me to bring that light into the cosmos.

For what you have to do in this world, there really is no man besides you.

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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