Author Archives: Pastor Tommy

About Pastor Tommy

Pastor Tommy is the senior pastor of Cross Community Church (PCA) in Deerfield Beach, FL. Rev. Tommy Boland is his official title. Pastor Tommy often seems too formal. Most everyone calls him "Coach".

Amid Covid-This Pandemic Will Not Prevail

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I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18 ESV)

No matter how long this global pandemic lasts and no matter how many lives it ultimately claims, we can be sure of one thing: COVID-19 cannot and shall not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ. Read on and be encouraged today!

When Jesus said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matthew 16:18), He was making it perfectly clear that nothing can stand in the way of the advancement of His church. In the ancient world, the first point of attack for an invading army was at the city gates. If the gates could be breached, it would not be long before the city would fall into the hands of the enemy. Thus the city would rise or fall based on the strength and security of its gates.

After telling Peter and the disciples that “The gates of hell shall not prevail,” Jesus began to speak of His death and resurrection. And when Jesus rose from the dead, He became the death of death, and He smashed through the gates of hell that tried to hold Him in their deadly grip.

The greatest enemy of mankind since Adam’s fall in the Garden is death. But when Jesus walked out of the tomb, death died. Death is not master over Jesus (Romans 6:9), and it is no longer master over His people. Even if we were to contract the coronavirus and die, the gates of hell cannot prevail against us. They are not strong enough to hold anyone who is in Christ.

Of course, no one wants to die during this pandemic, and every loss of life is a bitter tragedy. Yet we Christians need not fear, because greater is the power that is in us than any power that can come against us. No matter what happens during this pandemic, and any other pandemic that follows, nothing can stand in the way of the church of God advancing the cause of the Kingdom of Christ. In fact, as I have said here before, this global pandemic is merely an instrument of salvation and sanctification in the hands of the Almighty.

May these words of our Lord, recorded in John 14:19, be forever etched upon your heart: “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”

You are in my prayers and in my heart.

Purpose and Passion,

Pastor Tommy

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Amid Covid – Relaxed Restrictions

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“The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

As the restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus are beginning to be relaxed, what is one good thing can you think of that has come out of the quarantine? I’m sure you can think of a few good things . . . and many bad things as well. The good thing that tops my list is the number of “new” neighbors we have been able to meet.

For the past five years, we have walked our golden Labrador, Cali, twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. As we walked the streets of our Fort Lauderdale neighborhood, we would cross paths with the same set of neighbors who were also out walking, jogging, or cycling. However, during the past two months, the sidewalks and the streets in our neighborhood have been filled with many more people than usual, many of whom we had never seen before, giving us new opportunities to connect with a great many more people. Our neighborhood now genuinely feels “neighborly,” and it has provided wonderful opportunities to invite our new friends to join us for online church.

In addition to those who are out exercising, we have also seen more people tending to their yards, planting gardens, and rearranging flower beds. This too has thrown open doors of opportunity to connect with people we had never seen outside their homes, and we have found an unusual willingness in many to shift from casual conversation into a frank discussion of spiritual things. As a pastor, I always welcome these opportunities, and I believe this new openness to the spiritual is God’s way of providing a silver lining to the dark COVID cloud we have all been living under for the past two months.

This global pandemic has captured the attention of the entire world, and I have no doubt that God has been steadily working to expand the cause of His kingdom. As Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). And one way He may enlist you and me into that work is simply by setting out for a walk in the neighborhood and being friendly to our neighbors . . . always remembering to keep a respectful distance out of respect for those who are still badly frightened by the coronavirus.

I use this quote from C. S. Lewis often, and it provides a fitting close to today’s word of encouragement:

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience,

but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

This global pandemic has been a painful time for all of us, and the relaxing of the restrictions on our daily activities probably feels long overdue for many, but let us not lose sight that the Spirit of God has never been restricted—not in these recent weeks or at any time throughout eternity. I believe the Sovereign Lord is using what appears to be a terrible thing—a deadly virus—to accomplish a wondrously good thing: the saving of souls. As for me and my house, we will continue walking our neighborhood and talking with our neighbors, looking for opportunities to share the truth of Jesus Christ, and trusting that God will supply the increase.

You are in my prayers and in my heart.

Purpose and Passion,

Pastor Tommy

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Amid Covid – Memorial Day Thank You

Memorial Day

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

Today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday in the United States, a day set apart for honoring and mourning the military personnel who died while serving in our Armed Forces. To be sure, as we are in the midst of this global pandemic and under gradually easing stay-at-home orders, Memorial Day 2020 will not look like any in our past. There will be no grand parades with throngs of people lining the streets or packed 5K runs to honor of the fallen. The traditional picnics and barbeques at parks and beaches will be confined to individual families at home. Even the public ceremonies of placing of flags at military gravesites will be done in a restrictive manner in order to comply with social distancing restrictions. This is indeed an unprecedented time for our generation!

Memorial Day weekend is also the official start to the summer. However, most beaches are still closed, as are many travel destinations. So with limited travel and few events to engage in, perhaps you and I can use this a time for deeper reflection on and thanksgiving for all the freedoms we do have in America, freedoms which have been secured by the sacrificial service of the brave men and women who protect our great nation.

Social distancing orders have not been easy on any of us, simply because we are social creatures. Remember, in all that God declared to be “good” in the creation narrative, the one thing He said was not good is for us to be alone. We were made for community, plain and simple. To be sure, we are saved individually, but we are saved to community, and only in community will we fully grow and mature in our faith.

This Memorial Day being so unusual because of this unprecedented time of social distancing should bring home to us a powerful reminder of the sacrifice our military personnel actually enlisted for. You and I are frustrated because we cannot be with our friends and family for fear of the virus; for the men and women of our Armed Services, being separated from friends and family is a daily fact of life.

First, our brave men and women gave up their comfortable lives at home, often travelling to the far side of the world to serve for months at a time. Second, they signed up to live in environments of dangerous isolation to defend our country. And finally, on this day, we remember that many of those men and women made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free by laying down their lives for us. As Jesus said, there is no greater love.

So when it comes to remembering our brave men and women who fought and died protecting our freedoms, know this: all paid some . . . some paid all . . . and they were all willing to endure extended, repeated absences from loved one to do so.

I’d like to conclude by borrowing from something former President Ronald Reagan said about the United States Marine Corps. In no way do I wish to minimize the exemplary history and service of the Marines, but I do believe that President Reagan’s words can be expanded to include all those who served in every branch:

Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in this world. Those who served to protect our freedoms don’t have that problem.

May God bless our military personnel. You are in my prayers and in my heart.

Purpose and Passion,

Pastor Tommy

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Amid Covid – Quarantine Question

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“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69)

During this unprecedented and unpredictable time of quarantine, where do we turn to find the comfort we so desperately need? Some turn to TV binge-watching. Others indulge in favorite foods. Still others engage in activities and hobbies. As I have been driving our South Florida streets in recent weeks, I would surmise that many people have turned to physical fitness. It’s certainly true that these and many other activities can provide some measure of comfort, but if we stop there, we will find ourselves devoid of the true comfort that we so desperately need.

Where have you been turning in search of comfort? If we turn to some form of activity in search of comfort, we will find that even the really positive ones serve as little more than a distraction from the stress and loneliness and uncertainty we are all experiencing to some degree during this pandemic. But when we turn to the Almighty, we discover rich deliverance from that stress, loneliness, and uncertainty. In our passage for today, we read that Jesus turned to His disciples after a number of people who had been following Him had turned away and asked them directly, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”

Why did so many desert Jesus? Because He was not leading them in the direction they wanted to go. The people wanted a military leader. They wanted a political personality. They wanted an earthly king who would reestablish the throne of David in Jerusalem. But this was not why Jesus came into this world. He came not to remove the power of Rome over Israel, but to remove the power of sin, Satan, and death over the whole world by dying on a cross. When the people realized that Jesus was not going to give them what they wanted, they turned away and no longer followed him (John 6:66).

To be sure, no one wants a global pandemic. No one wants to have their lives put on hold. At times like this, we are all confronted with two choices: we can walk away from Jesus or we can press even closer to Him, no matter where He is leading. Remember, Jesus promised that we will experience painful providences in this life (John 16:33), but He also promised to be with us in them and through them . . . and that includes this global pandemic.

There is nothing wrong with turning to some healthy activities that will distract us for a time and provide us a measure of comfort. But to experience the kind of comfort we need to actually flourish during these uncertain days, we must turn to the Almighty, who will provide us lasting comfort in this life and eternal joy in the next.

Peter really said it all: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Perhaps he was recalling the words of the psalmist –

I lift up my eyes to the hills —

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

You are in my prayers and in my heart.

Purpose and Passion,

Pastor Tommy

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Amid Covid – Pandemic Pressure

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Scripture tells us and personal experience confirms that there are some blessings that will only be found on the other side of pressure . . . because pressure in the hands of God results in our ultimate good and His eternal glory. Read on and be encouraged today!

It is the squeezed fruit that produces the juice . . . the crushed flower that produces the perfume . . . and the highly sought-after diamond is formed under a combination of high temperatures and extreme pressure in the earth’s mantle. So here is the question we all must ask ourselves:

What is produced when we are squeezed, crushed, and put under a combination of high temperatures and extreme pressure?

To be sure, the coronavirus pandemic has created profound pressure on us all, from social distancing to living under virtual house arrest to disruptions in both our work and our play. The question is not whether we are all feeling this pandemic pressure; the question is what we are choosing to do with it. Charles Swindoll, whose Insight for Living radio program is heard all over the world, once aptly said that “Life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent what I make of it.” Remember, it’s not what happens to you that makes the greatest difference in your life; it’s what you do with what happens that does.

Here are three things to remember about this pandemic pressure:

  • Pandemic pressure is experienced by everyone.
  • Pandemic pressure is only temporary.
  • Pandemic pressure is being used by God for our good and His glory.

Being hammered on the anvil of the Almighty is indeed painful, but God has a purpose for our pain, and He will not expose us to more than we need or we can handle. God is at work maturing us, making us complete, and conforming us to the image and likeness of Jesus. This pandemic pressure has not been delivered to destroy us, but rather to demonstrate God’s ability to work through us to achieve His highest good in our lives: Christlikeness.

So . . . what has this pandemic pressure been producing in you lately?

You are in my prayers and in my heart.

Purpose and Passion,

Pastor Tommy

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Amid Covid-Treasure Hunters

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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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19-21)

In just two short months, the coronavirus pandemic has helped many to uncover what their true treasures are in this life. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it crystal clear that everyone is a treasure hunter. The question is, What treasures are we hunting for?

Jesus is telling us that we have only two choices with it comes to treasure hunting: we can seek earth-bound treasures or heaven-bound treasures. For many, this COVID-19 pandemic, which caught us all by complete surprise, has exposed those earthbound treasures we have been hunting for. Think about it this way; most people do not set out to allow the goal of their profession to dominate their lives and become their most important treasure. But sadly, this happens for many. Others never intentionally set a course for finding happiness through the acquisition of material things. But again, sadly, this happens for many.

What treasures have you been hunting lately? Saul of Tarsus discovered his true treasure on the road to Damascus. In a single, defining pandemic moment in his life, Saul went from persecuting Jesus as the Pharisee of Pharisees to praising His mighty name as the apostle Paul. Later he was moved by the Spirit of God to write —

I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:8-9)

This coronavirus has caused many to reevaluate the treasures they had been pursuing. Storing up treasures on earth shrinks the size of our lives down to the size of our lives. And living for the self is suffocating. For many, this time of sequestered living has caused them to see what true treasure is—faith, family, and friends—and to make these relationships the object of their treasure hunting. They have begun storing up for themselves treasures in heaven. How is it with you? Has this pandemic impacted your treasure hunting in any way? To be sure, this could be one of God’s purposes in sending it.

You are in my prayers and in my heart.

Purpose and Passion,

Pastor Tommy

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Amid Covid – Serenity Prayer

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The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

In the 1930’s, American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr penned one of the most popular prayers ever written, the Serenity Prayer. It is likely that you are familiar with the portion most commonly quoted: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. You may not be as familiar with Niebuhr’s original prayer and the phrases that are less often quoted. Let’s take a look.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

Serenity from a biblical perspective is living in a state of submission and surrender to God. It is trusting God’s heart even when we cannot trace His hand. It is being calm in crisis, settled in storms, and at peace—even during painful pandemics like the one we are experiencing today.

Here is something that I believe will prove profitable as we make our way forward through this pandemic. Take this prayer and pray all the way through it. Don’t just stop at the beginning. Meditate on and marinate in each line that follows the opening line.

COVID-19 has reminded us all that life is fragile, and we are not in control of any portion of it. Every moment is a gift from God, including each painful providence, which Niebuhr said offers a pathway to peace—perhaps because he knew that the pain in this life is conforming us to the likeness of our Savior, who was “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). And we can be absolutely certain that our God will indeed make all things right when Jesus returns to consummate His Kingdom. We have His Word on that! So until that glorious day, let us surrender to His will, knowing that happiness is not God’s greatest goal for us in this life; His goal for us is holiness, and we will have more happiness than we know what to do with when we cross the Jordan and enter into His presence. Amen.

You are in my prayers and in my heart.

Purpose and Passion,

Pastor Tommy 

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