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".

Vow Renewal

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:14)

Married couples often ask me to perform a “Vow Renewal” ceremony, which is a symbolic way of reaffirming the original vows (that is, the promises made before God and man) that the couple made on that glorious day when they joined together in the holy covenant of marriage. Today I’d like to encourage you with a word about renewing your vow to your Savior.

To be sure, we make many vows to our Lord. But the one that surpasses them all is the vow of life, in which we promise to surrender our lives to Him. The reason I believe this vow surpasses all other vows we make to our Lord is because I know how often He tests our sincerity and commitment to keeping it.

We have promised to walk with our Lord wherever He leads, and as long as He is leading us beside green pastures and still waters we faithfully follow. But what about those times when He leads us into the Garden of Gethsemane? Do we, like Peter, pull out our spiritual swords to do battle for the glory of our Lord against His enemies? Or are we more like Judas, who betrayed Jesus with a kiss?

It is far easier to make a vow than to keep a vow. So how do we keep the vows we have made to our Lord? We keep in view the vow He has made to us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). You see, our marriage vows to Jesus simply cannot end in divorce. Regardless of how often we fail to keep our vows to Him, He never fails to keep His vows to us. We remain in our marriage relationship with Jesus, not because of our faithfulness to Him, but because of His faithfulness to us, regardless of how terribly unfaithful me may be.

The key that unlocks the door to keeping our vows is the cross. Knowing how loved we are by Jesus is the driving force that will strengthen us in our moments of decision. It is His love for us that helps us say “Yes” to Him and “No” to everything else. Being reminded of His crucified life for us, a vow He made in eternity past (Hebrews 13:20) is what strengthens us to live out the vow we made to Him that we will live the crucified life. This is how Paul could say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul lived constantly in the shadow of the cross and was thus strengthened to fulfill his vows to Jesus.    

So regardless of where this message finds you today and how many unfulfilled vows litter your past, press on by renewing your vows today. Keep the cross in view, and more often than not you will find the strength to fulfill your vows. And on those occasions when your strength fails, remember that you have a God who forgives you completely and loves you unconditionally.

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


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The Service Of Our Sickness

Before I was afflicted I went astray, buy now I obey your word. (Psalm 119:67)

Is sickness always an attack of the spiritual forces of evil in this world? If we are looking for the root cause of sickness, the answer is a resounding “Yes,” taking us all the way back to the encounter between Satan and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Now that sickness has entered into this world through the fall, we must decide if it is always the result of a demonic attack on us. Are we to assume, as the faith healers tell us, that God wants us to be healthy all the time, all the way into glory? When you put the question in that light, the answer to this question is an emphatic “NO!”

Sickness is a servant of our Savior. Is this not the truth that God put on display in the life of the apostle Paul? Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh,” and he prayed three times that God might take it away. God did not do that. Paul explained that his sickness was his Savior’s servant that kept Paul from growing conceited because of the incredible ministry God had given to him. We do not know what the thorn actually was — speculation from commentators has ranged from migraine headaches to malaria to bad eyesight to back problems to bad feet — we do know this: God could have taken the thorn away in an instant; God could have prevented it from ever happening, but He did not. Instead, God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). 

When we understand this truth, we change our perspective on sickness. Instead of first crying out for healing, we look for God’s purpose in it. To be sure, it is right to pray for healing and a restoration of our health, but we must not miss the deeper message that God sent sickness or infirmity as His servant to draw us closer to Him. Perhaps it was sent because of some sin (1 Corinthians 11:30) or because of satanic attack (Job 2:7) or some other unknown reason (John 9:3). But regardless of the reason, all sickness becomes a servant in our Savior’s hand. If God allows it to continue, you can be sure it is for His glory and your ultimate good.

Has sickness been testing the outer edges of your health plan lately? Cry out to God, but pay close attention to His response. It may be for you as it was for Paul, that God has a far greater purpose to accomplish in your life with this sickness than without it. When this is the case, submitting to the servant of sickness for the glory of our Savior is the pathway to blessing.

We must remember that we have been bought at a price and we are not our own. God has a right to do with us as He pleases to accomplish His perfect purpose. If He has ordained sickness as His servant in our lives, we are to receive it, knowing that His grace is sufficient and His power is being made perfect in our weakness. All glory to our God, until we get to the other side of the grave, where there will be no more sickness, no more suffering, and no more sorrow.

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

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Your Purpose In God’s Plan Is A Process, Not A Place

What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Have you ever given much thought to God’s purpose in your life? Now, I am talking about something much deeper than whether you are to be a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker. God is conforming all His people into the image and likeness of His beloved Son; when that is completed, we will be ushered into the kingdom of the new heavens and the new earth. But deeper still, God’s purpose for every believer is a process . . . not a place. And that process extends on into eternity. 

You see, the ultimate goal in our relationship with Jesus is not to simply arrive in the new heavens and the new earth. Rather, the ultimate goal in our relationship with Jesus is our relationship with Jesus, a relationship that will continue to grow and deepen from the moment we stand before Him unveiled throughout eternity. Eternity is active, not passive. We will not be sitting atop a cloud strumming a celestial harp forever and ever and ever. Many mistakenly believe the afterlife is like retirement, where we will just sit back and relax — shifting into neutral, if you will. Not true! 

Eternal life will present us the greatest opportunities and possibilities we could ever imagine. It will be one glorious adventure after another. In eternity, we will not only be worshipers, which would be more than enough, but we will be willing workers too. God has ministry magnified for each one of His children, where we will use all of our God-given gifts, talents, and abilities to continue bringing greater and greater glory to God. We will never grow weary. We will never get discouraged. We will never burn out. We will serve and serve and go from strength to strength, living at the deepest level of significance, a level that was unattainable on this side of the grave. 

Paul wrote, “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3), and I cannot say with certainty what that means.  But I do know this: As we reign with our Lord Jesus Christ, the angels who were sent to minister to us here on earth will be at our disposal in some way, to assist us in doing all that God calls us to do. Truly eye has not seen and ear has not heard what is in store for us in the Almighty Adventure that awaits us.   

So regardless of where this message finds you today, pause and consider what awaits you on the other side of the grave. Be encouraged, Christian, in the knowledge that God has not only prepared a place for you, but He has also ensured a purposeful and powerful process for you to live out and rejoice in for all of eternity. 

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

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Are You Growing Down?

Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. (Luke 8:13)

How often we have heard the phrase, “Grow Up!”  Perhaps we have said it to someone or maybe it was said to us. Growing up is a good thing, is it not? To mature in character and commitment is the way of the Christian life. But in order to grow up, we must also grow down. Let me explain what I mean so that you might be encouraged today.

When God in His grace gives us the gift of eternal life, grace is also given to grow us up into Christ. But in order to grow up into Christ, we must be “growing down” and establishing a root system that is solidly attached to the Rock of our salvation. In the Parable of the Sower, the seed (the Word of God) fell on four different types of ground: the path, rocky ground, among thorns, and good soil. The seed on the rocky ground received the Word with great joy and began to grow up, but at the first time of testing, it withered and died because it had a weak root system.

This parable provides a picture of what can happen in the life of the Christian if the roots do not go down deep. When the storm winds blow, we will be blown over if our roots do have not grown down deep enough into the soil of the sanctified life. 

Make no mistake, godly growth happens in two directions simultaneously: upward and downward. The key to unlocking the door leading to growing downward is to first go downward ourselves. We need look no further than Jesus. Jesus came down to us from heaven, but when He arrived, He was not done in His downward direction. Instead of coming as the King of kings and Lord of lords to be served, He came to serve others. The Creator of the universe got so low that He took a towel and basin and washed the feet of His disciples, a job normally reserved for the lowliest slave. But even then Jesus was not done! He willingly hung on our cross and took our death so that we might have eternal life in Him. “Greater love has no one than this,” He said, “that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

You see, we are most like our Lord when we go downward in life by serving others and willingly laying down our lives for them. “Nobody should seek his own good,” 1 Corinthians 10:24 instructs us, “but the good of others.” The more we do this, the deeper our roots go. And when storm winds start to swirl around us and the waves of challenge threaten to crash over us, we are not moved, because we are rooted on the Rock of our salvation.

So grow up, my friend! But don’t forget to grow down too. 

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

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Is It Right To Remind Our Redeemer?

“You have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.'” (Genesis 32:12)

Is it right to remind our Redeemer of anything? Does He not know all things and remember all things too? He most certainly does, so the idea of “reminding God” may sound strange. Yet we are given permission to remind God of His promises — not to jog His memory, but to strengthen our own.

Jacob did that very thing when he was about to encounter his brother Esau, whom Jacob had deceived and wronged. The last time Jacob had seen Esau, Esau was planning to kill him, so Jacob feared for his life and the lives of his family. He confessed to the Lord, “I am afraid Esau will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children” (Genesis 32:11). And then Jacob, in all humility, reminded God of His promise of blessing. We are to do the same when we are confronted by some difficulty or trial. 

Reflect on any promise God has given you and lay hold of it with a humble heart. What is there to fear from any angry “Esaus” that may come against you, when your God is absolutely and completely for you and has promised to do you good?  Notice the word “surely” in today’s verse; I take it as a guarantee from our God. In other words, we can be absolutely certain that God will make good on His promises to us. Our good God has promised to do us good, regardless of what may come against us. 

No matter what you may be facing today, when you remind your Redeemer of the promises He has made to you, your faith is strengthened and your hope is renewed. Remember, God’s Word is not for the benefit of God; it was given for our benefit. The better we know it, the better we will be able to recall it and remind our Redeemer of His many and varied promises to bless us, protect us, and do us good.

God wants us to come to Him and present our requests and desires to Him. In addition, He has given us permission to open our prayers with “You have said . . .” — recognizing that this reminder is for us and not for God, so that we might be strengthened in knowing that He who has promised can be trusted to make good on every promise He has made.

The Amplified Bible says of Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, that “No unbelief or distrust made him waver . . . concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised” (Romans 4:20-21).

Let me encourage you today to get in the habit of reminding your Redeemer when you are on your knees before the throne of grace. Is there anything in particular that you need to remind your Redeemer (yourself) of what He has promised? I promise you it will keep you from ever forgetting that your God is a covenant-keeping God who has promised ultimate good to you as you make your way into glory. 

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

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The Lord’s “Lettuce Patch” Kids

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Perhaps you recall the Cabbage Patch Kids, a line of cloth dolls that were all the craze in the early 1980s. Today I’d like to encourage you with a word about the Lord’s “Lettuce Patch” kids. Many Christians refer to the tenth chapter of the book of Hebrews as “the lettuce chapter.” The reason for that is the repeated use of the exhortation “let us” in verses 22-25. Now, all that “lettuce” creates a supernatural salad that is designed to both strengthen and stretch you, right where this message finds you today.

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ve seen my frequent reminders that inasmuch as we are saved individually, we are saved to community. The Bible knows nothing of the solitary saint. When God in Christ saved us, He placed a new obligation on us: the obligation we have to the family of faith. The word US makes it clear that there is a mutual responsibility in the body of Christ, each for the other.

Perhaps the best way to express that responsibility is through the numerous “one another” commands of Scripture. Here are just a few:

  • Care for one another (Galatians 6:2)
  • Accept one another (Romans 15:5)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Confess to one another (James 5:15)
  • Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)
  • Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Love one another (John 13:35)

How well have you been feasting on the sweet-tasting supernatural salad Jesus has set before you? Remember that Jesus died to make us His family of faith. He wants us to live as a community of believers who put the Gospel on display in such a way that unbelievers begin to ask why we are so different from other people they meet. The answer to that question, of course, is that the grace of God that saved us is also in the process of sanctifying us. Without the grace of God, we would still be as sinful and self-centered as we were before we were saved. Even after salvation, we must still appropriate the grace of God in order to rightly live out the exhortations of “the lettuce chapter.”

Remember, Christians living in community is not only God’s desire for each one of us, it is the clear and present indicator that we are growing and maturing in our faith. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus vertically, we are to also be growing in our relationship with others horizontally. In the creation account, everything was good except one thing: It was not good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18). So God created Eve, and the first community in the world was formed. If you are a Christian believer, you are part of the most important community in the world: the church. But in order for the church to truly be the church, we must do our part and commit to community.

That reminds me of another “lettuce” verse from the letter to the Hebrews: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching”:” (Hebrews 10:25).

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

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A Rest Remains In Our God Who Never Rests

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

Here’s a great question: If God is omnipotent — possessing all the power in the universe — how are we to understand Genesis 2:2, which tells us that God rested on the seventh day of creation? Please read on and be greatly encouraged today!

Perhaps the simplest way of explaining this truth is to say that God stopped His doing, but He never stopped His displaying. God stopped creating, but He never stopped His sustaining. God was not tired, as if His strength and power had diminished in any way during the six days of creation. You and I may very well be tired after six days of work and need a rest, but that’s never the case with our God.

Isaiah said it this way, “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary” (Isaiah 40:28). Jesus expressed the very same truth: “My father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17).

So what does it mean that a rest remains in our God, the One who never rests?

Everyday Rest – The first “rest” we are to understand is the rest we receive when we initially become a Christian. When we, by grace through faith, are raised from death to life, we are immediately and forevermore given a rest from our self-salvation project, thanks to the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can stop trying to save ourselves, because God in Christ has saved us — freely, fully, and forever. We no longer have to try to work our way into God’s favor, because Jesus has earned God’s favor for us. We are free from the works of the Law, because Jesus fulfilled that Law on our behalf. Our doing is to be exchanged for our devotion as we work out our salvation in the strength of the grace that saved us.

But that’s not all . . .

Eternal Rest – The second and final “rest” we are to understand is the rest that “remains” to be received on the other side of the grave. This is the life that awaits us in glory when we stand in the presence of God. This is the life where all of our rebellion will be removed, our sin slain, and our disobedience turned into divine devotion. We will, for the very first time in our lives, be fully resting in the promises of God.

So regardless of where this finds you, whether you are just a bit tired or utterly exhausted, cheer up! Look to your Lord and enter into your everyday rest by resting in your redemption — that is, the finished work of Jesus Christ. When you find yourself up against it — tired, weary, and heavy laden — look beyond the horizon to the promised rest that awaits you in heaven. It won’t be long now . . . even if you live to be 100.

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

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The Battle Is The Lord’s

David said, “The battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47)

As the Israelite army cowered in their tents in fear of the giant Goliath, the shepherd boy David volunteered to take up the fight against the Philistine champion. (Under such an arrangement, one representative from each side would fight each other instead of entire armies doing battle. Whichever fighter lost, his people would become the slaves of the other side.) David would be doing battle with a heavily-armed, veteran soldier who towered over David by feet, not inches.

David, however, did not believe for a second that he would be fighting in his own strength. David knew the Scriptures that the Spirit of God had written through Moses and the promises that God had made to His people. David knew that God is the Source of all power who determines the outcomes of all battles. In the natural, David was no match for Goliath, the gigantic man of war. But in the strength of the Almighty, David knew that the battle was the Lord’s and victory was assured.

Here is something to remember about David. He was the youngest and the weakest of the brothers in the family of Jesse, yet God chose Him to go up against the Philistine champion. That way, when the victory was won, there would be no doubt as to Who was responsible for it. David had known this truth throughout his young life. When he was persuading King Saul to allow him to represent Israel in this one-on-one combat, David spoke of how he had victoriously fought against both the lion and the bear while protecting his sheep. But David never took the credit for the victory; he said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).

What Goliaths are you facing today? What giant waves of challenge are rolling over you? Keep your eye on the Almighty and look to Him for your deliverance. He has delivered you in the past and He will deliver you once again. Remember, greater is the power that is in you than any power that will ever come against you. Give God the glory in advance, and you will see that the battle is the Lord’s . . . and the victory is already yours.  

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

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The Tracks of My Tears

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. (Psalm 56:8)

Life is full of painful providences; some of them come to us in the most unexpected ways. But no matter how sudden or surprising these unwelcome events are, none of them ever catch our God off guard or unaware. God is in control of all things everywhere in the universe at all times . . . and that includes everything in our lives. This truth is a comfort to us, because no matter what tracks our tears leave on us, God not only keeps track of all of them, He collects them in His bottle.

The profound meaning in this truth is clear: God will never forget our pain; God will never ignore our grief; God will never disregard our sorrow. David was the author of today’s words of cosmic comfort in Psalm 56. At the time he wrote this psalm, he was on the run from Saul and had been captured by the Philistines in Gath. This was not the language of a poet waxing eloquently; no, these were the words of a man who was in the depths of despair. Yet David was strengthened in the knowledge that God had not forgotten him or forsaken him. He knew that every tear that streamed down his face was but another reminder that God was with him and for him and would not let his enemies overtake him. And the same is true for you and me today.

David was not pointing us to a literal bottle that God is using to collect our tears. That metaphor is for our benefit, painting a picture that empowers us to be encouraged that God sees all our pain — and not only remembers it, but responds to it as well. When you think about it for a moment, who better to see the tracks of our tears? Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). He wept over this sin-stained world. But on that cross Jesus conquered death, our last enemy, and we have been given this astounding promise: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4).

The promise is clear; the day is coming when the tracks of our tears will be no more. There will only be joy, happiness, and love. May that truth set us all free the next time we are marked by the tracks of our tears.

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

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God’s Love: Powerful Past Event . . . Promised Present Experience

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

Take a moment to read through today’s Scripture. Notice that the word “demonstrates” is present tense, and “died” is past tense. Have you ever wondered why that is? It is because God’s love for us is both a powerful past event and a promised present experience. Now . . . if that doesn’t light the fire of your faith, your wood is wet!

Every Christian finds it easy to understand the importance of the past event: our Lord Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin. He paid that penalty once for all (Hebrews 10:10); when He said, “It is finished,” He meant what He said! Atonement made, sin debt paid! In taking our sin upon Himself, He fully satisfied God’s justice and forever propitiated the wrath of God. There is no greater demonstration of God’s past love for His children than the love that was poured out on the Hill Golgotha.

So why does the apostle Paul put the word “demonstrates” in the present tense if it was a past event? It is because the past event of Christ dying for our sins has present, ongoing implications. It has been well said that Christians are “Once saved . . . always saved.” We are to experience the love of God in Christ Jesus — not just daily, but moment by moment. And the fact of the matter is that God, who formed us in the womb, knew that would not be an easy thing to do! Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this world, because the world is broken and so is every person in it. If you go back to the passage that our verse for today was taken from, you will see why Paul wanted us to know God’s love as both a powerful past event and a promised present experience.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5)

God, in His infinite wisdom, inspired the apostle Paul to make it clear that no matter what we are experiencing in this life, we are also to be experiencing God’s love. As a pastor, I am convinced that we will not be able to have any hope at all if we do not experience the present reality of God’s love.

Haven’t there been times in your life when circumstances conspired to make it seem like God not only does not love you, but is actually against you? Make no mistake, that is exactly how Satan wants you to feel! So our loving heavenly Father has given us a written reminder that regardless of the circumstances we are experiencing, regardless of the storm winds that are howling, we are loved! And not only that, nothing can ever separate us from that eternal, ever-present love. May that truth set us all free!

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

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