| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: Motivation

Posted on 03 January 2019 by LeslieM

The great Jewish thinker, Maimonides, wrote in the 12th century: “Caring for the health and well-being of the body is one of the ways of serving G d.” And he immediately explains why: “One is unable to think clearly and comprehend truth if he is unwell.”

If your mind is cloudy, you may lack moral clarity to know what’s right. While battling with illness, we may not find the stamina to battle the ills of the world. That’s why we need to look after our bodies. A healthy body is not in itself our life’s purpose; it helps us fulfill our purpose. It is a vehicle that transports us towards goodness, but it is not the destination.

Jewish tradition provides no excuse for being unhealthy. On the contrary, it gives the best reason possible to live healthy: life has meaning and purpose, and each day is precious. Only if life has meaning is it worth taking care of. The risks of high cholesterol, heavy smoking and drug use are a concern only to one who values life. The threat of a shorter lifespan means nothing to someone who sees life as pointless.

We are the healthiest generation in recent history, and our life expectancy is reaching biblical proportions. This means we have more time and energy to fulfill our purpose — to elevate our corner of the world, and tip the scales towards true goodness.

Are you lacking the “motivation” to work out? Have personal trainers, buying exercise class cards, paying for a monthly gym membership and posting motivational quotes on your refrigerator not worked? Are you feeling guilty? Fear not! Perhaps a spiritual approach to working out can get you going. Deeper motivation and insight into the spiritual value of fitness can elevate your experience of working out, which will help you develop a positive relationship with it.

Your body is valuable — and not entirely yours

You were created by a power greater than yourself. Your body is not yours; it is divine “property” entrusted to your care and responsibility. Your body is, therefore, sacred. Thus, working out and keeping your body healthy is not just good for you; it is a critical component in your obligation of protecting and maintaining the treasured gift you were entrusted with: your body. Just as you are charged with protecting and preserving your environment and definitely not harming it, you must also not take your own body for granted. It is your cosmic responsibility to treat your body with respect in every way, which includes getting regular exercise.

Working out helps you to live a meaningful life

When you are healthy, you can concentrate on the things that are important to you. Most significantly, a sound body allows you to focus on your soul, enabling you to fulfill your divine mission in the world and live a meaningful life. Just as the body needs exercise, sleep, proper nutrition, and occasional vitamins or medicine, the soul needs nourishment. This nourishment includes an awareness and connection to a transcendent power, and a unique purpose in life. It’s important that your physical fitness have a spiritual component — an appreciation of the higher purpose of maintaining good health.

Exercise

When exercising think about your body as a sacred entity: You are fine tuning the “vehicle” of your soul’s journey on earth.

Happy New Year and good luck keeping your resolutions.

Special Thanks to my friend and colleague Rabbi Simon Jacobson from Meaningful Life Center — A great source of meditation and information from a Torah perspective.

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 greatest gift

Posted on 26 December 2018 by LeslieM

The custom of exchanging gifts during Christmas has long been a part of the season’s charm, and many retailers aggressively promote their products as the best and greatest gifts for friends and loved ones. Everything from the latest electronic devices to gift certificates, cars, jewelry and clothing are often touted as must-have items for those on your list. The reality is that in the days immediately after Christmas, many of those gifts are going to be returned in exchange for something else. What may seem like a great gift from the perspective of the giver may not be valued as such in the eyes of the receiver.

Over 2000 years ago, the world received a gift unlike any other. In the insignificant and humble confines of a manger, God unveiled the depths of His love in the person of Jesus. More than an act in time, it was a statement in eternity. Better than a solution to a problem, it was the answer to man’s condition. Much more than a mere present, it was heaven’s gift for earth’s need. In John 3:16, Jesus explained it this way, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

In this, we see the greatest love. History and literature are comprised of many supposed great love stories: Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Sampson and Delilah, Brad and Angelina. But none of them could ever be the greatest love, for they were all conditional and temporary. The Bible represents God’s love as unconditional and eternal. What about the greatest gift? Would that be money, diamonds, status or influence? Many would readily accept such gifts, but would they bring lasting satisfaction? Jesus is God’s only Son who made the ultimate sacrifice, His life, for mankind. There’s no greater gift.

Years ago, during her talk show, Oprah Winfrey was preparing to give away brand new cars to her studio audience. Her staff carefully selected the most deserving from the thousands of letters that were submitted. The audience on that day was there by special invitation only. The greatest invitation, however, is seen in God’s offer to “whoever.” His gift is available to all. Those who were chosen to receive new cars from Oprah had to meet certain criteria. The stipulation was that they had to be without a car, or badly in need of a new one and financially unable to purchase it on their own. The greatest stipulation though, comes from God. He only requires us to believe in His Son.

Our society is hooked on the idea of exemptions. IRS exemptions, diplomatic immunity, special privileges and duty-free status are advantages that we treasure. God offers the greatest exemption in sparing those who believe in His Son from spiritual death or eternal separation from Himself. The Bible teaches that eternal punishment awaits the wicked and those who reject God’s gift. Believers are promised the greatest benefit, however. We all know the advantage of a good insurance policy, paid vacations, performance bonuses and stock options when considering employment offers. We seek to get the most benefit out of our decisions and actions in life. God promises everlasting life to those who accept His gift. Eternity will be experienced and enjoyed with Him.

Whatever gifts you have been given this Christmas, embrace them and appreciate the expressions of love from those who gave to you. Consider God’s great gift as well and embrace all that it provides. Keep in mind that our gifts to each other will only bring satisfaction for this life, and only for a time. God’s great gift, however, will affect both this life and the next. His alone is the greatest gift, revealing the greatest love, providing the greatest invitation and greatest stipulation, and offering the greatest exemption and greatest benefit. Who wouldn’t want that? Peace!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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CLERGY CORNER: Prepare — Advent is here

Posted on 19 December 2018 by LeslieM

Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

Mark 6:31a (ESV)

It is a happy time of the year. With Chanukah, Christmas, and friends and families getting together, December is a month we look forward to. For children, it is the “happiest time of the year.” And I hope that you all are having a happy December.

Along with the happiness of December comes the holiday preparation. We have cards to write, presents to buy, cookies to bake, meals to cook and various parties for work, for school, among neighbors, families and friends. It is busy. And, in the business of December, we need to take a break.

For many Christian traditions, the period of time between Dec. 1 and Christmas is called Advent. Advent is also a time of preparation, but a different kind of preparation. Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus. Whether it be in the manger or in his glory, Advent is a season of preparation.

When we greet each other and ask “Are you ready?” Our answers usually are “The cards are written, the presents are bought, the cookies are baked, the parties are scheduled, yes, I am prepared.” Advent asks this question: “Are you ready for Jesus?” A fair response to this question is another question: “How do I prepare for the coming of Jesus?”

At Zion and many other Christian churches, we prepare for Jesus with worship. We hold an additional worship service during the middle of the week during Advent and we call this our Advent Vespers service. A vespers service is a quiet, contemplative worship experience with dim lights, candles, singing and prayer.

I remember introducing Advent Vespers to a congregation I previously served and the response I received was “Oh, great, another thing to put on my calendar.”

I found this response to be revealing. First, it tells me that our typical schedule is cluttered during December. We have a tendency to say yes to every invitation. It is alright to say no every once in a while. You have to make time. Nobody hands it to you on a silver platter.

Second, it tells me that holiday preparations have eclipsed “Holy Day” preparations. Not only do we need to make time for family, we need to make time for God.

Third, we have treated worship as an obligation as opposed to a privilege. It is a privilege to serve the Lord. We worship not because we have to, but because we want to.

Taking all of these things in mind, I realized that I need to change my approach. So, I said during the announcements: “Consider this an opportunity to retreat from the hustle and bustle of December.” While December exhausts us, Advent replenishes us. We move away from the noise of shoppers and piped in music at the mall to quiet and contemplative worship. We move away from the bright and blinking lights along the boulevard to dim lighting and candles. In every way, Advent is a break from the craziness of December, and people who have attended our Advent Vespers service have thanked me because they need that retreat in the middle of the week.

Advent isn’t the only time that we need to take a break. For those of us who observe Advent, it is a scheduled time for quiet contemplation and reflection — not a holy obligation but a holy privilege.

It is my prayer that when Christmas comes and goes and the New Year approaches that you schedule quality time with God. Take a break from the world and set yourself apart, as Jesus did.

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: We like to give

Posted on 12 December 2018 by LeslieM

It is that time of the year when we give gifts to others. It is the time of year when we do not think about ourselves but others and what they want or need. God knew in His unlimited wisdom that we would need help with our lives. Not only do I find that I need God’s help. I have also come to realize that I need His help every day of my life. God does not always give me what I want, but He always gives me what I need.

ROMANS 12:6-8

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

NLT

Our goal in serving God is to be able to continue to serve Him throughout our whole lives. Growing up in church, I always heard the phrase, “stay full of the things of God.” It took me a long time to understand what that actually meant. When my car runs, it uses gas and I have to fill it up when it gets empty so it will continue to run and I can use it. So, when I give out things that God has blessed me with in life I need to find spiritual things in my life so I can fill back up the same way I fill my car with gas. The more love, compassion, peace and hope we give out, then the more we need to stay full of the things of God. We can read the bible, pray, go to church, or even sing hymns and worship songs to fill back up. What a great series of events to experience in our lives. We can continually give and receive.

When you get a gift, either you like it and use it or you do not like it and hide it somewhere. Gifts from the Father are to be used and not wasted or just put on the shelf. Gifts from God come as He wills (any gift at any time) for the profit of all. You should not only welcome the gifts from God but also expect them in your life. We all know it is better to give than to receive. However, if we do not receive, then we have nothing to give. We have a responsibility to use the spiritual gifts in our own lives. God has blessed our lives with many different gifts and there are many people that can use them. You have the gifts, you might as well use them instead of letting them go to waste. The good thing is that no one person has all the gifts. It takes many different parts to make one complete church body. Gifts do not clash or compete but they all work together to serve the same goal or purpose. Giving gifts is not about serving your agenda and making you happy. It is about serving others and bringing joy to others. We can all show others love, mercy, compassion and kindness. May God bless your holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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: 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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