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".

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17)

If our faith is real, it will be evident for all the world to see. Now, I am not saying we will live perfect lives; far from it! But the way we live is on display for all the world to see; therefore our faith must be a practical faith. Notice the “lived-out faith” in the verbs linked to these biblical characters in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” section in the book of Hebrews:

  • By faith Abel brought . . .
  • By faith Noah built . . .
  • By faith Abraham went and offered . . .
  • By faith Isaac blessed . . .
  • By faith Joseph gave instructions . . .
  • By faith Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God . . .
  • By faith the people passed through the Red Sea . . .
  • By faith the prostitute Rahab welcomed . . .

In all these lives and so many more that are chronicled throughout the pages of Scripture, we see how actions speak louder than words. It has been well said that, “What you do speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you say.” To be sure, we are to walk by faith and not by sight, but we can also be sure that the watching world will judge us by what they see us do. If our faith is a true faith, it will be lived out, alive and well, even though it will always be lived out imperfectly.

Faith in Christ is belief in Christ and His atoning death on our behalf, but it does not stop there! Belief must be evidenced by behavior, and what we believe will determine how we behave. We are saved to serve our Lord for His glory and the good of others.

So . . . what verbs are putting on display to express the faith you have in Jesus? Are your actions speaking louder than your words? Far too many believers have reduced their faith to what they don’t do. “I don’t do this and I don’t do that. Some wag has expressed it as, “I don’t drink or smoke or chew, and I don’t go with girls who do.”

The real question that each of us must ask and answer is, What am I doing for the glory of Jesus?  True faith is faith that is acted upon and used by God to expand the cause of His Kingdom in this world – on earth as it is in heaven.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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Every Believer’s Broom Tree Experience

Elijah said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10)

From the mountain peak to the deep valley below, we all experience what the prophet Elijah experienced from time to time. It’s called burnout. I know some Christians are not willing to admit it, because they have been taught to “Keep a stiff upper lip” and “Never let anyone see you sweat.” But clinging to such platitudes is as sad as it is silly. Because we have not yet been perfected — and we won’t be until we are received into glory — we will all go through “Broom Tree Experiences” from time to time. We will . . .

Become exhausted

Feel alone

Get depressed

Believe that we’re ready to give up

God had just used the prophet Elijah to defend His glory by defeating 450 prophets of Baal. But after taking part in one of the greatest victories in all of the Bible, Elijah came to the end of his proverbial rope because the pagan queen Jezebel sent word that she was going to have Elijah killed within 24 hours. Elijah fell into a false sense of failure and wanted to simply end it all and make the pain go away, “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die” (1 Kings 19:4).

God was having none of that! God met Elijah in his place of deep need and miraculously provided for his needs. Elijah needed refreshment and restoration, and God provided food — both physical and spiritual. As he slept under the broom tree, an angel of the Lord appeared and said, “Arise and eat!”  

We have all had broom tree experiences. We have given our all in the service of God, and our “all” just didn’t seem like enough. We felt drained and depressed, and we lapsed into despair. Then God showed up! And He keeps on showing up every time we go through these seasons of struggle. When you find yourself sitting under the broom tree for whatever reason, remember that the Lord is with you, He is for you, and He is in you. And He is speaking the same words to you today that He spoke to Elijah: “Arise and eat!”  

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Divine Dwelling Place

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. (Psalm 90:1)

Regardless of where we live, whether in a mansion on a mountain or in a tent in the wilderness, God is to be our divine dwelling place. This biblical concept of God as our dwelling place expresses the dependability, reliability, stability, and security we have when we are resting in the Creator of the universe.

Nobody understood this better than Moses, who was called by God to deliver His people out of bondage in Egypt and who led the people of Israel in the desert for forty years with no permanent place to live. Today’s passage of Scripture, Psalm 90:1, is taken from the only psalm that is attributed to Moses, who knew well what it meant to have God as his dwelling place.

Let’s look at how other psalmists expressed this truth:

You hide them in the secret place of Your presence. (Psalm 31:20)

You are my hiding place. (Psalm 32:7)

God is our refuge and strength. (Psalm 46:1)

You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 71:3)

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” (Psalm 91:2)

Here is something else to consider about having God as your divine dwelling place: You will never be evicted. You have unbroken fellowship and friendship with Him. When Jesus died on the cross for your sins, it was because He wanted to be in an intimate and loving relationship with you for all of eternity. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus came to “tabernacle” with us — that is, to make His dwelling among us (John 1:14). When you are experiencing those times when God seems distant, remember that it was you who moved, not Him. Jesus has promised to never leave nor forsake you, no matter what you do. (If you have trusted in Jesus Christ for your salvation and have even the slightest doubt about the sentence you just read, stop reading this blog and open your Bible to read Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:38-39, and John 10: 27-30.) The life, death, and resurrection of our Lord has given us access to Him, moment by moment, in order to enjoy fullness of joy in His presence.

I’d like to close today’s message with one of the most encouraging verses in all of sacred Scripture, one that should be written on your heart and emblazoned on your mind:

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Revelation 21:3)

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Memorial Day Message

Today is Memorial Day, a time to remember all those who paid the ultimate price in defending our great nation. Sadly, for far too many Americans, it is a day that merely marks the beginning of summer and the end of a three-day weekend. What does Memorial Day represent for you?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  (1 John 3:16)

There is no greater demonstration of love than to lay your life down for another. The freedom we enjoy in this country is not free! It came at great cost to a great many. All those who served paid some — and some paid all — so that we might live in the greatest country on earth. Our military men and women and their families bore a great cost in order for every U.S. citizen to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

How thankful are you for that freedom today? The famed American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said this during a Memorial Day speech given in 1884, prior to his appointment to the United States Supreme Court:

Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death—of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil, our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.

Holmes was saying that those men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom would want us to focus on the results of their sacrifice — life — and live life to the fullest. This is the best way to honor their sacrifice. This is especially true for those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus laid down his life for us, and He has called us to live a life of abundance for the glory of the Almighty. 

I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Are you currently living an abundant life for the glory of God?  God never called you to muddle around on the mudflats of life. God has called each believer to soar on wings like eagles and pour ourselves out for something bigger than a life marked by self-survival, self-centeredness, and self-fulfillment. And we have been given this great calling and privilege because Jesus willingly laid His life down for us.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

It is right this day to give thanks to God for every man and woman who has ever served this great nation, and in particular for those brave American soldiers,sailors and airmen who gave their lives for our freedom. If you have the opportunity to thank an active duty member of the armed forces or a veteran in person, by all means, do it! Yet behind this great temporal blessing is an even greater eternal blessing that we will receive because of the ultimate price Jesus Christ paid on our behalf on a cross on the hill known as the Skull. 

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT…AMEN!     

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The Believer’s Bullseye

To live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)

The bullseye that I am referring to today is not the center of a piece of candy, but the center of a target, and that target is found in the first four words in the Bible: “In the beginning God . . .” Note well that Scripture does not say, “I the beginning I . . .” We are not the center of all things; God is. We are not to be sitting on the throne of our lives; God is. We are not to be at the center of our very existence; God is. God is the believer’s bullseye; when we are aiming at Him, we are doing what we were created to do.

Sin kidnaps our lives and removes Jesus from the center. Sin puts us in the center of God’s glory story and we evaluate our lives through the filter of “Me, myself, and I.” We shrink the borders of our lives down to what we want, what we feel, what we desire, what we think is best for us at the time. The selfishness of sin replaces the Savior with self. We become the bullseye of our lives, and we miss God’s best for us in every area.

Sin seduces us into believing that “Life is all about me.” It makes us controlling, demanding, critical, envious, and discontented. It causes us to fight with our family and flee from our friends. That is why we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves each and every day, because that is the only way to keep ourselves from pushing Jesus out to the periphery of our lives.

Our lives exist for Another; His name is Jesus Christ. It is His will, not ours, that is to be done. It is His kingdom, not ours, that is to be advanced in this world. It is His glory, not ours, that is to be put on display. When Jesus is at the center of our lives, we will live with purpose, meaning, and significance. We will have an identity that cannot be shaken by the sorrows and storms of this life. We will be living a life that truly matters, and we will make a lasting difference in this world by being different from this world. The grace of the Gospel rescues us from ourselves and empowers us to live for the glory of the One who laid down His life to pay the penalty for all our sins.

So . . . what has been at the center of your life lately? Your Savior? Or yourself? Remember, when Jesus is your bullseye, you won’t always get what you want in life, but you will always get exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. You have His Word on that!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Never a Deaf Ear

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. (Isaiah 59:1)

I know it can feel like God has turned a deaf ear when you cry out to Him and heaven seems to have gone stonily silent. But it only seems like this is true. I also know that the Bible warns us that unrepentant sin and rebellion can get in the way of our prayers to God. This is true. When we have deliberately turned a deaf ear to God and all He has taught in His Word, our prayers can be an abomination to God (Proverbs 28:9). But make no mistake, nothing ever gets in the way of God hearing our prayers — not Satan and not even our sin. God hears our every prayer, and as I have said here before, He gives one of three different responses: “Go,” “No,” or “Grow.” Only when we are spending adequate time in His presence will we be able to discern the answer He has given us.

God loves to hear from us about everything that is taking place in our lives. As the prophet Isaiah said in our verse for today, the Lord’s ear is never too dull to hear. A dull, deaf ear is simply not a possibility for our God. The psalmist exulted, “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1-2). That is a word of encouragement that should encourage us all to cry out to God day and night. He hears our prayers and He responds to all of them. And when He does not respond to our cries in the way we expect, it is simply because He is planning to exceed our expectations.

When we sin — and we do that often — we need to go to the One who is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We can and should “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Have you been feeling like God has turned a deaf ear to your prayers? If you are not getting a “Yes” from God, and you have settled your sin account with Him by confessing your sins and trusting in Jesus Christ’s atoning work on your behalf, simply rest in the knowledge that God’s thoughts are not your thoughts and His ways are not your ways (Isaiah 55:8). His answer of “No” or “Grow” is for your ultimate good and His glory. Let that truth set you free to keep on crying out to the One, who never turns a deaf ear to you.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Objects of God’s Almighty Affection

The Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all nations – as it is today. (Deuteronomy 10:15)

It is one thing to know that God chose to create us; not only that, but He chose to create us in His image. It is another thing altogether to know that we are also objects of His Almighty Affection. From the opening of Scripture to the very last word, the Bible demonstrates just how much God loves and cares for us. God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

And the love of God is not dependent upon us! God did not love us because we were lovable. God did not love us because we were worthy of His love. God did not love us because we did anything to earn or deserve His love. God simply chose before the beginning of time to love us (2 Timothy 1:9), and His love is as unconditional as it is complete. God will never love us any more than He already does, and He will never love us any less. Our Father’s love is fixed, full, and final.

Think about it this way: God created you so He could shower His love upon you. You can read this word because God loves you. You are alive right now because God loves you. And when you breathe your last, God will love you in eternity just the same as He loves you today. Because of the sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection of Jesus, God has made a way for us to be welcomed into an eternal and personal relationship with Him, simply by trusting in what Jesus has done for us our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Lord.

Because God’s love for you is based on His character and not your conduct, you are an object of His affection moment by moment, each and every day. No human mind can even begin to grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18). Remember, on this side of glory, we get only a taste of what it means to be the object of God’s almighty affection. We are “looking through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12KJV). When we reach the other side we will, for the very first time, experience the end of all sin, sickness, sorrow, and struggle. We will be in eternal bliss with our Lord Jesus and all the saints of God.

I have repeated this lovely conclusion to C.S. Lewis’s book, The Last Battle, from the pulpit on more than one occasion, and it bears repeating here: Summarizing the lives of the four siblings, Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, who passed through the wardrobe and into Narnia, Lewis wrote —

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

That is the glorious future that awaits all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives and thus are objects of God’s almighty affection.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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When Upside Down Is Right-Side Up

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” (Acts 17:6 NASB)

The Jewish people of Thessalonica witnessed the work of Paul and Silas and came to the conclusion that they had “turned the world upside down.” They called Paul a fool and a madman, the same thing that was said about the prophet Hosea (Hosea 9:7). These people were not looking at the work the apostles were doing with the eyes of faith; they were looking through the eyes of the flesh and from an earthly perspective. They fumed that Paul and Silas were turning the world upside down; but when we read the Acts of the Apostles with the eyes of faith and view their actions from a heavenly and eternal perspective, we understand that what Paul and Silas were actually doing was turning the world right-side up.

The Gospel makes no sense to the unbelieving world. When we are living out its eternal truths, the eyes of the flesh see it as turning the world upside down. But what is actually happening is that we are being used to put things back in order, the order God ordained from the foundation of creation. You see in the Gospel social barriers being broken down and hearts set free to begin beating for the One who created all things and pronounced them all very good (Genesis 1:31). Paul and Silas were restoring God’s order to this world by saving souls and changing lives for Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

The Gospel turns the corrupted systems of this world right-side up. Because the ground is level at the foot of the cross, every single person has dignity, value, and worth. No one is more valuable than anyone else. We are all one in Christ. None of us are needed, but all of us are wanted by Jesus to shine His love light into a dark, disoriented, and desperate world.

Can the same thing be said about you that was said about Paul and Silas? Would unbelievers fuss, “That person has turned the world upside down!” God wants to use YOU to expand the cause of His Kingdom in this world. He delights in giving you opportunities to lead others to Him. When you do this, you will be fulfilling your divine destiny, and you will be used by God to turn a sin-stained, upside-down world right-side up. Let that truth set you free to live with freedom, joy, and faithfulness to Jesus, regardless of the cost or circumstance.  

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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When Blessings Dull Rather Than Drive

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. (Psalm 40:4)

We all want to live a blessed life. We pray for blessings. We thank God for blessings. But we need to be careful how we receive and respond to our blessings! When the children of Israel were freed from bondage in Egypt after four hundred years of slavery, they witnessed miracle after miracle and received blessing after blessing. Sadly, their blessings eventually began to dull their senses rather than drive their service. Their blessings turned into sedatives rather than stimulants.

They passed through the Red Sea on dry ground as the pursuing Egyptian army was swallowed up by the waters. They ate manna from heaven. They drank water from a rock. They were guided by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. Yet, rather than being stimulated to service, the people of Israel received these supernatural blessings almost as if they were an entitlement, and they whined, grumbled, and complained against their leaders — against Moses and Aaron and even against God Himself.

Here is what we must remember about blessings: They are gifts from God in that moment, not guarantees for the future. If we are not careful, we can allow blessings to dim our eyes of faith and stay our helping hands. Whatever blessings we receive from the hand of God, we must receive them with gratitude and thanksgiving, knowing that we have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others.

So . . . where in your life has God been blessing you lately? Have your blessings driven you to more dynamic devotion to Jesus and a deeper delight in your relationship with Him? Or have your blessings turned into sedatives rather than stimulants? Have your blessings been dulling your senses?

God has given each of us blessings multiplied – blessings of opportunities . . . blessings of resources . . . blessings of possibilities. As God blesses us, let us be prayerfully blessing others; by this all people will know we are disciples of our loving and blessing Lord, Jesus Christ.  

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Finding Identity in the Almighty, Not Achievement

You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household. (Ephesians 2:19)

We were made by God for God, and all that we do should be done for the glory of God. We serve a BIG God, and God wants us to do big things to expand the cause of His Kingdom in this world. But if we find our identity in our achievements and not in the Almighty, the wheels begin to come off the tracks of our lives and we will eventually, inevitably veer off into a ditch.

We were made for success, but that success must be found in the service of others, not at their expense. When we seek to find our identity in our achievements, we tend to love things and use people. But when we look for our identity in the Almighty, we will love people and use things. At this level of living, God is on the throne of our lives. Because of God’s grace poured out into our lives, our identity must be rooted in the achievement of another, and His name is Jesus Christ. When we are looking to Jesus, leaning on Jesus, and living for Jesus, our sense of accomplishment will derived from what He has already accomplished for us. Our identity will be found in His finished work, not our achievements.

Our enemy the devil will do everything in his power to get us to focus on achievement rather than the Almighty. This is one of the sharpest darts in his arsenal. He is always urging us to chase after the things of this world rather than the One who created the world. Satan will encourage and entice us to glory in our own achievements rather than the Almighty. That is why these words from the apostle Paul must to be etched in our minds and emblazoned on our hearts:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

When we locate our identity in Christ, we have built our lives on rock, rather than on shifting sand. We can weather both the storm winds that blow and the successes that grow in our lives. There is only one thing in the entire universe that is constant and unchanging – actually He is a Person, not a thing — He is Almighty God. Our achievements come and go, but Jesus has promised never to leave or forsake us. When our identity is in Him, we will never be let down, because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Where have you been finding your identity lately — in your achievements or in the Almighty? When your identity is located in nothing smaller than Jesus, you will be able to rest in the reality that you are fully loved and completely forgiven — today, tomorrow, and forever.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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