A Message from Pastor Craig: 4-24-2022

The road sign said “stay in your lane.”  It seems obvious to tell drivers to stay in their lane. Captain
Obvious (remember him?) would say something like this.  It seems about as obvious as if they would make a sign that simply stated “obey the law.”  Oh wait, maybe I’ve seen that one flashing on a sign, too.

I suppose you could find any number of obvious or redundant signs (like the one that says Caution – Water on Road when raining).  But the “stay in your lane” expression transcends traffic, and I think hence some of its clear implications.

According to one article I read on the Internet, “stay in your lane” as a command started in football.  Players are given a route, a lane to run, and they are told to stay in their lanes.  Of course in football there are antagonists to fight in the process, something you usually don’t find in traffic.  Staying in your lane in football means that you are following orders, you are being faithful to your teammates, and you are playing to your strengths.

It’s interesting that in popular culture it has come to mean something else.  When someone disagrees with your position and begins to argue against it, you tell them to “stay in your lane.”  I think that means that you don’t want them treading on what you perceive to be your domain, your right, or your opinion.

So its use gets interesting when used outside the context of traffic or football.  It seems to me that if I end up saying that to somebody, I am shutting them down.  If in conversation I tell you to “stay in your lane,” you will be hurt, put down, and maybe challenged.  It demeans the other person.  Now, I can envision that we might say that to somebody we love and want to keep from embarrassing themselves, to “stay in your lane.”  But still, it cuts off, or shuts up the other person.

On the other hand, if I apply it to myself, it seems like wise counsel.  I have long understood the propensity that I carry naturally within me, to carry an opinion about just about everything.  Whether I know anything about it or not!  I will go to great lengths to make a point, for which I bring little to the table, and usually have little to do with anyway. To remind myself to “stay in my lane” then
reminds me to participate in the conversation, but to not wander too much from what I truly know.

Now, I am a car guy.  It seems to me that within your lane, you should go fast.  Within your lane you should get your half of the middle (as my grandfather used to say).  In our own lanes we should contribute as much as we can.  It’s the place where God has put us, blessed us, and expects us to flourish.

And with blinkers, we can change lanes.  Where we are allowed in, where we ask in, where there is room, changing lanes isn’t bad.  It’s when we force things that we get into trouble.  So I guess the self-reminder to stay in our lanes is really just an expression of humility. Proverbs 11:2 says: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”  Right.  When I get to talking about stuff I don’t know, disgrace follows my pride.  But stopping an exit or so before that is wise, and others think you as wise when you do.  Pretty cool.

Trying to stay in my lane,

Craig

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  Romans 12:3

A Message from Pastor Craig: 4-17-2022

OK, so, this didn’t happen 100 years ago or 10 years ago for that matter. Did you see this in the news? San Francisco has several competing companies testing their autonomous driving cars. They peddle the idea as taxis operating in a defined area of the city, and right now you can sign up and get on a waiting list for a free ride. I’m all for technology and everything, and would take a ride from a risk basis, but…. I love to drive!  And to let “Nobody” drive, I just don’t know.

Oh, yes, speaking of “Nobody.” Last week one of these autonomous driving cars got pulled over by a cop. Now, that’s just funny in and of itself. At first blush it seemed a little incredulous to me as those cars never exceed the speed limit. But, it turns out the cop stopped it for not having its lights on. Built into the software of these cars, is a protocol of what to do when the car senses flashing lights and a siren. It hits the gas and goes for a chase! I’m kidding. It pulls over immediately, then looks for the safest place to park which this car did. Somebody videoed the cop trying to figure out what was going on. The cop was a little confused. I mean, if Nobody is driving, and Nobody makes a mistake, who do you give a ticket to?

It turns out that those cars have a number to call for this very thing. In this case the company figured out that somebody had flipped the headlight switch to off and didn’t return it to automatic when they set it loose. The cop bought the explanation and, indeed, nobody got a ticket.

They blamed it on “human error.” All the “autonomous” stuff had worked, but somebody had switched the headlights off, maybe while cleaning it or something. I wonder if God sees our bodies kind of the same way – that He programmed them OK, that they were actually “programmed” perfectly to start with, and then “human error” came into being. Now, the Creation story tells us that the error was actually instigated by an outside force that humans were introduced to by the devil.  And we’ve been living with the “bugs” in the programming ever since.

Today is Easter. (Happy Easter BTW!). Today we celebrate the remedy to our “human error” conundrum.  Our errors, call them sin, disrupted our relationship with God. We deserve to be pulled over. But Jesus paid the price for our errored ways, and so it’s not that no one gets ticketed, it’s that the penalty has already been paid. Our sins have been forgiven. This is the reason for our Hallelujahs today. (Have you noticed we haven’t sung a hallelujah during Lent?)

Today we sing praise to God for all He has done, but particularly for taking on our sin so that we could enjoy our relationship with God forever. This is big people!  Really big!

Again, Happy Easter!

Craig

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

A Message from Pastor Craig: 4-10-2022

Palm Sunday is this odd day in Lent.  Lent starts with Ash Wednesday, a service that reminds you of your sin and mortality.  It sets the mood for Lent.  This week is Holy Week, marked by somber (yet really significant – both the Seder meal and Good Friday are going to be inspiring and contemplative) services.  And yet here is this celebratory Sunday amidst it all.  How’s that?  Well, for one thing, every Sunday is a celebration of Easter.  We don’t worship on the Sabbath because Easter so changed everything.  As Christians we celebrate the new life, the new relationship with God that Easter brought.  It literally changed everything – for us personally and for us as humankind.  (And the day we worship).

We want to be transformed and transformational.  The term “Good News” has been so used in our churches that we forget that indeed we have learned “good news” about the meaning of life, the purpose it carries, and the explanations of where it started and where it goes.  We have been the recipients of it, and need to share it.

The sharing of the Good News happens in different ways.  We share it from the pulpit.  We share it in Sunday School.  We share it through missionaries nearby and far away.  And I think that Easter makes us mindful of those who bear good news.  Isaiah had a funny way of saying that.  In Isaiah 52:7 he says:  “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet”?  What?  What is that?  What does that mean?  Have you ever brought good news to somebody?  Maybe somebody was in trouble, and you told them help is on the way.  Maybe somebody was financially in trouble, and you brought a little cash to pay their bills – they are so grateful, they can’t thank you enough. They might poetically say blessed are your feet for bringing them help.

I was delivering food for Branches in Miami years ago, and I remember one particular lady – precisely because she was so grateful.  That ministry mattered to her. Branches is an urban ministry in Dade
County.  A similar ministry in Palm Beach County is called CROS (Christians Reaching Out to Society) Ministries.  As a church we have supported CROS for years. Our own Rev. Juanita Goode is the Director of Engagement for them.  I am one who would say of CROS “how beautiful are the feet of them who bring good tidings.” (I wouldn’t say “on the mountains” because, well, we don’t have mountains.) CROS brings hope daily to people who need food in pockets of our county that are truly needy.   I want to invite you to consider an Easter gift to the mission emphasis this month which is CROS.  They are our feet in our own backyard.

Grateful for what we are able to do together,

Craig

O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!”  Isaiah 40:9 (NLT)

A Message from Pastor Craig: 4-3-2022

At 150 feet, the Statue of Liberty is the tallest, and by far the tallest, statue in the continental United States.  Around 4 million people go yearly to celebrate this great symbol of our country: a symbol of freedom (her name is Lady Liberty after all), a symbol of our country desiring to be a beacon for those seeking freedom, a symbol of welcoming everyone who comes from afar.

That’s the tallest statue in the continental US (there is a taller one in Puerto Rico).  Do you know where the second tallest statue is in the US? Hallandale. Yes, Hallandale in Broward County (just south of Ft.
Lauderdale). Yes, just down the street basically and my guess is that you didn’t even know it was there, much less have seen it. That’s not a judgmental statement because I’ve seen it and wouldn’t blame you for not having heard about it.

This statue is right on US1 and is a 110-foot tall. The statue is of a horse with big wings, named Pegasus from Greek mythology, and a dragon coiled up that Pegasus is pouncing on. It’s a lot wider and longer than the Statue of Liberty, but not nearly as tall. While everyone who goes to bet on horses at Gulfstream Racetrack or shops at The Village at Gulfstream Park has seen it, I dare say few others have. Thousands drive by because it’s US1, but I didn’t see anybody stopping to take a picture when I drove by the other day (how many New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty?)

I was dumbfounded by the colossus, I mean Pegasus.  It’s really huge. Surrounded by trees, buildings and urbanization in general, it doesn’t stand out like the Statue of Liberty there in the Hudson River. You don’t get a good view of it until you are right in front of it. So when I read that somebody paid $30 million to put it there, I couldn’t help but ask “Why?” 

Built in 2012, the developers of Gulfstream, which would now include a mall and a bunch of condos, decided to build an entrance to beat all entrances.  “OK…”  In my mind they could have given a $35 million rebate to all the residents, and have spent the money better.

And a Pegasus?  Why that?  Was that the best definer of their values and aspirations?  Well, Gulfstream is known for its horses, and I suppose that there’s something to be said for a flying horse, I mean, a symbol of strength and freedom that can slay dragons.  But still.

I will say that you should go see it – only here in South Florida do you find the second largest statue in the US. You have to go to Butte, Montana to see the next tallest one after all.

But at the end of the day, as artistic expressions go, I think this one was a waste of money. The Statue of
Liberty cost $250,000 (or $5 million in today’s money).  It’s symbolism is much deeper, and obviously more meaningful to 4.5 million people that visit it. And the third one?  It’s a Madonna, a symbol of gratitude built with the contributions of many in that area of Montana.

Jesus said: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not
destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 16:19,20).  Now, moth and rust will not destroy the copper statue, but the idea Jesus communicates is that we should invest in things that last forever – that our energies should go to spiritual things, and the spiritual nurture of others.

Where is your money going? Is it building Pegasus or is it building the Kingdom of God? While sometimes I worry that a lot of my money goes into things that disappear quickly (have you SEEN the price of gas!), I was encouraged, when I learned about the big sculpture down there in Hallandale, to be mindful of the way I spend my resources, and to focus them on things that matter.

Back home,

Craig

As good stewards of the manifold grace of God, each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10

Vacation Bible School 2022

VBS is open to all potty-trained children 3 years old through children that just completed 5th grade.

Dates:  Wednesday, June 15- Friday, June 17, 2022 from 9:00am-12:00pm

On Sunday,  June 19, the children will sing at the 9:30am worship service.

Cost:  $20 per child for early registration; $30 per child if registered after May 22.

Deadline to register is June 1.

~Many volunteers are needed! If you are able to help, please use this same registration to sign up to volunteer. Youth volunteers are welcome for all rising middle and high school students. Community Service hours will be given on the last day.~

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!