Heart Disease

Heart Disease

The human body is a truly remarkable thing.  In all of creation, there is nothing like it in appearance and complexity.  Thinking on that I would have to say, of all the parts that make up our body one of the most, if not the most unique and complex part would have to be the heart.  From an appearance perspective, it has been described in science as elegant.  Regarding complexity, incomprehensible.  It is a part that is felt and heard, not seen and to have this out of order would leave one absent of life.  Matter of fact, in serving its purpose the heart brings life to all other parts of the body, warranting our understanding and protection.

As is the case with most complex things, the slightest change or imperfection is often enough to cause damage and with the heart, it is no different.  Everything from smoking, to high blood pressure; from an unhealthy diet, to a lack of exercise; all have been proven causes that disease the heart resulting in what is now known as the silent killer, “Heart Disease”.  But, in all I’ve learned about this illness and its causes, there was a cause that stood out, if not shocked me; that of unresolved anger and its impact on the body.

In his book “Deadly Emotions”, author Dr. Don Colbert said that he could tell kind of life a person lived the second he opened their chest and looked at their heart.  He describes in detail how the arteries leading in and out of one’s heart would tell the story.  Arteries that draped over his finger like a wet noodle spoke of a person whose life was full of love and joy.  Those arteries that stood over his finger like a led pipe often spoke of a life full of anger and bitterness.  He stated that it wasn’t the anger that was the issue for the heart, as anger is a God given human emotion.  It was the chemicals anger produces in one’s body that put us in harm’s way.  For the person with unaddressed, unchecked anger, long term exposure to chemicals like stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline can have a disastrous effect on the body and specifically the heart.  This is what is going on inside our body but there are other affects that are worth addressing also.

Anger has its affect outside of the body.  I’m sure you all can relate to something said or done in a moment of anger that has had a long-term effect; I know I have mine and many a jail cell is full of those whose anger got the best of them.  Anger also has its effect on our spiritual heart.  Scripture speaks of this heart in Psalm 73 v 26 in saying:

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

In this is the distinction between the physical and spiritual heart; the temporary and the eternal.  For those whose anger has diseased their spiritual heart, depression reigns along with  the deadly statistics that go with it.  So, if anger is an emotion given to us by God, it should be understood as good, that it has value and purpose for our life.  But, if exposure to it produces deadly effects on the scene and unseen areas of our lives, where is the balance?  How do we check it and what should we do with it?  Thankfully in Jesus we find answers to these important questions.

The first thing about anger is to remember what I had stated earlier in this write up; that anger is a God given emotion and that means there is a purpose for good.  To salt this with God’s truth I refer to the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4 v 26 – 27:

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Are you hearing that reader?  Sometimes I read it and do a double take should my eyes deceive me.  Paul does say, “Be Angry”.  It’s OK to be angry.  It’s OK to be angry when we see injustice in the world; when we see bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  The great king Solomon laments on this reality in Ecclesiastes 8:14. The key for us is what we are going to do with the anger.  Ephesians 4 v 26 states that we can’t let it lead us to sin; we must let it go.  As Ephesians 4 v 27 states, holding it; holding onto the anger gives the devil a foot hold and where the devil is, death is there or not far behind.

Maybe your reading this and thinking you can’t relate.  Maybe you’ve never struggled with anger like I and so many others have.  If that is you I say hallelujah, praise the Lord.  But, one thing I’ve learned about anger over the years is that is can be sneaky.  It is deceptive; it likes to surprise you and catch you when you least expect it.  Because it behaves like this, we must always be on our guard.  We must, as Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4 v 23:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

We must protect our hearts from allowing anger to find rest because just like the blood in our physical heart, anger will flow out of our spiritual heart.  How do we protect our hearts from allowing this to happen?  Well, the answer might just shock you.

In the world of IT, the process of securing is affectionately known as hardening.  If you want to protect a system or network from viruses, if you want to secure or lock it down, you must harden it and when it comes to our heart, it is shockingly no different.  I say shockingly as scripture refers to a hardened heart as bad thing, like the pipe arteries of a person who held on to hate and anger for too long.  But that is not what I’m referring to here.  In this case I’m talking about how we as Christian’s protect our hearts from those things that would disease it.  If antivirus software and firewalls are tools that can harden a system or network, what are the tools that can harden a heart?  God provides the answer in his letter to the Galatians; an answer I have referred to many a times in my life.

Galatians 5 v 22 – 23 refers to the fruit the Spirit of Jesus Christ produces in the life of a believer.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  The end of verse 23 states that “Against such things there is no law.”  There is absolutely nothing that can penetrate and disease a heart that is full of this fruit.  Unlike the IT world, in Christ, 100% security is achievable.  But, should you like to layer your security, one thing I would recommend adding would be forgiveness. This is often the main reason anger out stays its welcome.  Jesus’s sacrifice has revealed the ultimate power of forgiveness to save; it is just a matter of one’s willingness to give it or to seek it.  I can testify that His forgiveness has changed my life and continues to do so.

As I close this out, I can help but think of those in need of a new heart.  You’ve been wanting to let go of your anger; you’ve held on so long.  Turn to Jesus, confess your sin in this anger; profess your need for Him.  Receive his forgiveness and the new eternally healthy heart that comes with it and then give it away to anyone in need.  I will be praying for you reader; whoever you are, wherever you may be and ask that you pray for me too.  We will celebrate together in eternity one day with the One who made it all possible.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Advertisements
The Heavy

The Heavy

There are times when nothing seems to beat the nostalgia of a great movie.  The ability to escape our present reality and circumstances to assume one that we know not to be true has often been a source of comfort to many, even if only for a short time.  This can be a serious negative for some but that is for another message.   I love going to the movies and even more than that, can watch movies I have enjoyed repeatedly; to the dismay of my wife and admit it does strike me funny every time she discovers me watching a movie I have seen to many times to count.  I guess the simple mind truly is a complex one and she would be quick to inform you of the possessor of that said mind.

A favorite of mine over the years is a 3-part trilogy called “Back to the Future”.  For those not familiar, it tells the story of a boy named Marty McFly and his quirky, older scientist friend Doc Martin, who discovers the secret to time travel.  Incorporating the technology into a DeLorean (DMC-12), they travel back and forth in time to correct the mistakes that plague Marty’s life and family.  During the first movie Marty is taken back to the 50’s where he encounters several issues, that if not addressed, could alter his future permanently.

When realizing the gravity of certain situations, he often uses the term “Heavy” as a way of bringing perspective to the issue.  Not understanding the term, the 50’s version of his scientist friend assumes there to be an issue with the earth’s gravitational pull.  Thankfully there wasn’t as this was just a term of expression but, the reality for us is that there are many times we face circumstances that when fully realized, shake the very foundations of our world.  It is those times where the weight sets in, leaving one scrambling for hope were it not for Christ.  To bring context to the discussion I turn to God and the real-life examples found in his word.

In the book of Jonah, we read of a very real and wicked place called Nineveh.  There about face rebellion was spurring Him to act.  One would assume His first act to be judgment but, as we read, this is not so.  In true form God displays his character though a posture of grace and it is this grace, communicated through his prophet, that leads to another about face for the people of Nineveh; one that turns them back to God.  Jonah 3 v 4 – 6 and 10 state the following:

“Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.  When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.”

“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”

We see a similar situation played out with the Israelites in the book of Acts – chapter 2.  Here Peter boldly proclaims the implications of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection, establishing Him as Lord and Messiah of all.  They are broken when the weight of their role in the first two steps settles in.  There despair is laid out for us to see in Acts 2 v 37:

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” “

Again, the hope or the out so to speak, is found in only what God can do and has done through Jesus.  In Acts 2 v 38 we read of what us Christians call the “Great Exchange”:

“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.””

If being honest, I’m sure we would all admit to moments of “I would give anything to undo or unsay that!”; I know I have mine.  It is often those moments that lead us into spiritual crisis, also known as the dark nights of the soul.  Were it not for the gospel of Christ, I certainly despair at the thought of where I might be.  But, and it is a big but, it is because of his gospel and the saving grace found in it that my life finds it purpose and its motivation; a new life available to you also.

I can’t help but wonder as I write this, how many out there, how many of you might be experiencing a dark night in your soul; a consequence brought out of action or circumstance.  Maybe your reading this or other writings I have done wondering why or where it comes from.  Well, I’m here to say that the light of Christ has lighten many a dark time in my life, leaving me with only one response; that of Romans 10 v 14 – 15:

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

In his book, “Jesus Among Other Gods”, Ravi Zacharias shares the story of Sir Isaac Newton, his beloved dog and a time when he was hard at work in his efforts to unlock the mysteries of the universe.  Comforted by the candle that lit the room and his dog at his side, he put his work to paper; or in that time parchment.  Taking what I believe to be a break, he gets up to leave the room.  His dog wanting to be where his master is gets up to go with him but inadvertently bumps the table with the candle on it, setting all his work ablaze.  When Newton returns to discover what happened, he is dissolved to tears.  Knowing his dog could never understand the gravity of what he has done, he simply strokes the dog saying, “You will never, never know what you have done.”  Thankfully our loving Father, even when we fail to understand, knows the gravity of our situation and in love, restores what we have broken in his Son Jesus Christ.

Friends, I close with the words of our Savior found in John 16 v 33:

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Near Sighted

Near Sighted

During a message I had given recently to a group of young people on the topic of evil, I had asked them to provide examples of what they had considered to be evil in the world today.  After a time of reflection combined with some encouragement, the answers started to flow and not surprisingly the majority of the answers were of an outward focus.  Everything from ISIS to Social Media was provided; with the context of evil easily identified.

Given the chance, I’m sure we would all have our stories of evil seen, heard or even experienced to tell.  And while all examples provided might well be rightly understood as evil, it is the outward only focus that is of concern if that is our only point of reference.  A contention expressed by Jesus to the religious leaders of his day and a great problem for us if we are not careful to learn the lesson.  Jesus states the following in Luke 18 v 10 -13:

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like the other men—swindlers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and pay tithes of all that I receive.’
But the tax collector stood at a distance, unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven. Instead, he beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’”

In the parable above, Jesus speaks of two individuals and the prayers they lift when considering where they stand with God.   The first are those of a religious leader who, rather than seeking to identify the faults in his own heart that require repentance, chooses to elevate himself above those he deems truly sinful.  The second is of an individual who, when thinking of who he is and what he has done, cannot even bring himself to come forward; sentiments echoed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12 v 3:

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Sadly for me, I can say that I at times can relate to the thoughts of the Pharisee more than I wish to admit.  There have been times where I, in pride, have compared myself to others and therein lies the danger.  Evil is singular in its origin; starting with the individual.  Even for those contributing to the cause of what many would consider to be evil, the seed that grows and leads to participation always starts with the individual person.  James 1 v 14 – 15 provides a great description of the origins of sin and its result when stating:

“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Our ability to accept our sinful state, as the tax collector rightly did, is the first step towards justification in God’s sight.  If the law has ever served a purpose in my life it has been to remind me of the where, when and how I have gone wrong.  But even more than that I am eternally grateful to my Father in Heaven for showing me the why in my failings.  In quoting several of the Psalms of the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul brings a wake-up call to those seeking to exalt themselves over others; both individually as well as globally.  He states the following in Romans 3 v 9 & 22 – 23:

“What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin”

“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

In his book “Jesus Among Other Gods”, Ravi Zacharias shares the story of a conversation he once had with a businessman who continually came back to the question of all the evil in the world.  A friend sitting next Ravi responded with the following, “I hear you constantly expressing a desire to see a solution to the problem of evil around.  Are you as troubled by the problem of evil in you?”  In the pin drop silence that followed, as Ravi puts it, the man’s face showed his duplicity.  For me I have always loved the saying that the foot of the cross is level ground.  In realizing that God does not play favorites when it comes to his grace, we are in a far better position to help our fellow man.  Failing to prioritize His grace can, in the end, be the very thing that fertilizes the soil of pride in one’s life.  Luke 7 v 47 rightly states,he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Closing out, I refer to two common visual impairments diagnosed during an eye exam.  The first is that of being diagnosed as far sighted.  To the person receiving this diagnosis it would be understood that they’re ability to see at distance would be better than those things they see up close.   The opposite is true for those who are diagnosed as near sighted in that they’re ability to see things up close is better when compared to those things seen at a distance.  Not that I would ever ask for any type of visual impairment but when it comes the vision of my spirit I do pray that I would always be near sighted.  That I would always be able to see those areas in my own life, those things up close that I need to be aware of or even repent of, if I am to be the agent of change the Lord would desire me to be.  I pray the same for you as I echo Psalm 139 v 23 – 24:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me;
And lead me in the everlasting way.”

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Pursuing Jesus

Pursuing Jesus

Growing up as a youth in the 80’s, my favorite Canadian rock group was a band called “The Pursuit of Happiness”.  Their name alone resonated with me and their song “I’m an Adult Now” was an anthem for me as a young person seeking validation and recognition.  Sadly, for me it wasn’t true as I was still just a kid but in my mind, getting to adulthood was the ultimate.  The freedom to do what whatever I wanted was the destination and with it I thought, true happiness.  Reflecting on this now, the song really suited the name of the band and for me, therein lay the deception.

The idea of pursuing happiness has gone beyond music in our culture.  It has permeated throughout our media, literature and even our education.  On the surface, this would appear to be a noble purpose as a happy person, one would think, is a healthy person.  But sadly, statistics indicate this not to be true.  For the person making happiness a life goal or mission, there is an output that has become all too prevalent in our society today, that of the newly formed anxious being.

If asked to describe our culture in one word, that word would be anxious.  We seem to live in a culture of anxiety and the statistics validate anyone sensing this to be true.  In America alone, current statistics state that about 34% of the population are or have suffered from some form of an anxious or depressive disorder and what scares me most about this staggering statistic is that it may be conservative at best.  With the stigmas associated with anxiety and depression, many suffer in silence and for our youth this has proven to be deadly.

If you’re asking the questions of how one gets to this point or where the road starts, there is a clue found in the words of our savior Jesus.  And, who would have thought it?  That the Creator of all things would know exact where the problem would lie.  Found in Matthew 6 v 21 Jesus says the following profound truth:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In one line from His spoken word, the salvation and the destruction of man is revealed.  What we prioritize, what we aspire to, what we purse has everything to do our wellbeing and I highlight a few examples from scripture to illustrate what I believe to be deceptions of Satan producing the anxiety and depression rates seen on our culture today:

  • The pursuit of wealth, Ecclesiastes 5 v 10 – 11:
    “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.  This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them.  And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?”

  • The pursuit of power, Job 24 v 24:
    “They are exalted a little while, then they are gone; Moreover, they are brought low and like everything gathered up; Even like the heads of grain they are cut off.”

  • The pursuit of possessions, Matthew 16 v 26:
    “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

  • The pursuit of the fleshly desires, Proverbs 9 v 17 – 18:
    ““Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.””

As demonstrated, the pursuit of happiness is fraught with danger.  Considering the cost one may be left wondering if there is anything worth perusing?  Is there treasure worth seeking?  Thankfully, and as always, the living word of God has the answers to set one’s mind at ease.  Galatians 5 v 22 – 23 speak to life filled with the Spirit of God.  They read as follows:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

I love how verse 23 finishes.  There is nothing that can go against the soul of a person filled with this fruit.  For the person seeking a better quality of life, to me, this is the ultimate treasure and unlike a pirate’s treasure, it is easily found in the pursuit of Jesus Christ.

Maybe your reading this and thinking much of the fruit is evident in your life.  To that I say “HALLELUJAH” and pray it ministers to those around you.  But if you are wondering what you could use a little more of, may I be so bold as to make a recommendation.  As I close this out, I can’t help but think of what Jesus had to say about those who make it their mission to pursue peace.  In Matthew 5 v 9 he states the following:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

The world could really use more peace and if you are one in need of more yourself; maybe you’re having trouble remembering the last time you felt peace, in Jesus Christ is the greatest of all peacemakers.  With the Easter season now upon us, we have no greater example of peace in the world today than that of the Father’s sacrifice of his Son on the cross.  In your pursuit of peace, pursing Jesus is the best place to start; resulting in true and eternal happiness.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Unforgettable God

Unforgettable God

This year, the world lost a great man in Billy Graham; a man considered to be the greatest evangelists of our time.  With the persecution of the Christian becoming more and more common place here in North America, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see how his life was celebrated by those outside of the faith.  Recognized as God’s man to the world, he had taken the gospel of Jesus Christ to any and every soul who would listen, resulting in the salvation of millions.  I can’t imagine his life or his legacy ever being forgotten but, I do realize it can happen if not careful and source a great example from the Old Testament for reference.

The book of Genesis tells the story of a man named Joseph; a man recorded to have saved the lives of his own people as well as those from around the populated world.  But, this is not how his life started out.  As is the case with many Christians today, Joseph was a man who endured his share of criticism and persecution.  Sold as a slave to Egypt, he suffered many a hardship and injustice, all the while never breaking faith with his Creator.

Then the day came when he would have a chance to show that there was and is no God but our God.  With the leader of the known world in those days, the Pharaoh of Egypt, suffering with dreams he could not shake or understand, Joseph had been brought forth as one who could help.  Trusting in God to provide, he described the Pharaoh’s dream and interpreted it’s meaning; resulting in the salvation of the Egyptian people as well as those surrounding and depending on them from a devastating famine that was to come.

As is with most who have saved a life or lives of others, honor was bestowed on Joseph in making him second in all of Egypt, behind only Pharaoh himself.  He had been entrusted with the leading of the nation threw the famine to which he was completely successful.  What I find most amazing and encouraging in looking at his life was how, in all that he had been through in his life, he never lost sight of the fact that God was with him and was working circumstances out for his good.  Joseph took the long view regarding his circumstances rather than allowing what was happening in the short term to distract him.  This produced in him an unshakeable faith while at the same time brought glory to his Creator.  For reference on this amazing piece of ancient world history, see Genesis 37 – 50.

But sadly, as found in the first chapter of Exodus, it wouldn’t be long before Joseph and all he had done, by the grace of God, would be forgotten.  The detail is found in Exodus 1 v 8 – 10 and reads as follows:

“Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.  “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelite’s have become much too numerous for us.  Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

What I find striking in this section of scripture is found at the beginning and how Joseph was not known to him.  I find myself asking how this could happen.  Or, how it could have been allowed to happen; that such an important part of their history wouldn’t be known or worse, forgotten.

Without going into the how or why this happened, for me, what is important is that it did and the result for the Israelite people was years of slavery and oppression at the hands of those God had saved.  It causes me to ask what happens to us as a people if we allow the Joseph’s and more recently, the Billy Graham’s of the world today to be forgotten?  And, more importantly, what happens if we forget the Creator of all things in Christ Jesus, whom the Joseph’s and Billy’s live threw and for.  Thankfully, for mine and future generations, in Christ that is a reality that will never come.

In scripture, the living word of God assures us that we are never alone.  That God will be known and made known to all and by his grace known by all.  We see this boldly proclaimed in Acts 14 v 16 – 17 which states:

“In past generations, He let all nations go their own way.  Yet He has not left Himself without testimony to His goodness: He gives you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.”

Putting an exclamation point on it, Jesus affirms this for us in saying the following in Luke 19 v 40:

“I tell you, He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.”

Christ and His gospel are being proclaimed and, despite Satan and those living for him, the empty tomb has guaranteed that will never change.

As I close this write up out, I find myself thinking about my own mortality and the legacy of faith I hope to leave behind.  Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter to me.  I’m certain that it would only take a generation or two to be forgotten.  If, only for a time, the only thing remembered of me was that I loved Jesus and was covered in and by his grace, that would be enough.  As exemplified in the life of the late Billy Graham and modeled by the even later John the Baptist, may Christ increase by my decrease – John 3 v 30.  That I to would be embraced by my Savior and hear the echo of Matthew 25 v 23 in my ear, that of “Well done good and faithful servant!”.  That is the life I pray for the strength to live to the glory of an unforgettable God and pray the same for you.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

A Good Memory

A Good Memory

During a busy morning in the office a friend and co-worker and I had decided it was a good time for a coffee break.  As we step into the sunshine and proceeded on our trek to the nearest fill up station, an older gentleman had passed in front of us on his bike, instantly transporting me back to my youth and memories of the years I had spent getting around on my bike.  Transitioning from 2 feet and a heartbeat to my bike as the main form of transportation had left me wondering how I ever got anywhere on foot.  As I grew older and transitioned to other forms of transportation, I found myself having this same experience.  In going from a bike to the bus and then from the bus to my own car; each transition left me wondering how I ever managed to get anywhere.  As I reflect on this and some of the like experiences I have had in recent years, one comedic situation stands out in my mind.

In planning a trip to Ontario a few summers ago, the decision had been made to travel through the US in an effort reduce cost as well as to enjoy a different route of travel.  To ensure an easier trip, I had borrowed my in-laws GPS.  Late in the evening as we neared the state of New Hampshire, the time came to program the GPS with the Canadian coordinates so that we could finish the trip.  To our surprise and great frustration, we discovered that the GPS we had didn’t have a Canadian map.  How did we end up with a GPS without a Canadian map you say?  My father-in-law frequented the US for work and it was during one of those trips that he made the decision to acquire a GPS.  Being told that it contained a North American map, he made the purchase and we were the ones to find out that it was not a wise one.  The adventure to Ontario really began from that point on.

In making our way to the border that would see us cross back into Canada, we had made several stops and acquired several maps.  It was very late and I had already made the commitment to drive through the night.  It was then that I made the flawed decision to attempt navigating the rest of that trip from a paper map.  After making several wrong turns and having the locals salute me with gestures most angry people make, my wife finally said it was time for us to bite the bullet and buy another GPS; a purchase I credit to saving our trip that year and our marriage.  How I or anyone who travels, even rarely, lives without this ingenious piece of technology is beyond me and I owe this time reflection to a man on his bike in passing.

When thinking on the content above, I can’t help but reflect on my life and walk with Christ.  I think of how I ever lived or did anything without him by my side.   I’m so thankful to have Jesus in my life and the power and presence of the Spirit of God inside of me as my guide.  I shudder to think of what or where I’d be today without him; something old testament believers failed to realize.  It’s a lesson for us all to learn from should we ever loose site or memory of our Heavenly Father and all he has done and continues to do for us.

In the book Exodus we read of a time where God demonstrated his great power in redeeming his people from the hands of the oppressive and abusive Egyptians.  God protects and then leads his people through the desert to a place where they could experience his presence and provision.  It was during this time that God had called his servant Moses up to Mount Sinai where he would proceed to inform him of all he planned to do as well as to provide him with the law; laws his people were to live by to maintain order and relationship with the God who had redeemed them.  Being on the mountain for a long time the people of Israel began to think that he would not return.  It spirals out of control from there as we read the following in Exodus 32 v 1:

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

In a moment of despair, the people had quickly forgotten all the Creator, in his grace, had done for them and they rebelled.  Oh, how I can relate to this as I remember some of the more trying times in my life.  The gift of our memory is of huge importance to the Christian and to use it for his glory is of immense value to us today as it was to the body in the Old Testament church as outlined in Deuteronomy 8 v 1 -2:

“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors.  Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”

Thankfully, as I look at all that is around me, I am reminded daily of God’s great grace in my life.  Time and time again it has allowed me to shed a skin that would seek to rebel and lead my spirit into a right and righteous standing with him.  A standing only achieved by Jesus at the cross and my confessing an absolute need for him.  His covenant with me as well as to us is professed in Hebrews 8 v 10:

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put My laws in their minds, and inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people.

In closing, I implore you to shed the new age way of thinking and the lines that go along with it.  “What have you done for me lately?” and “It’s all about the here and now?” lead one to lose sight of a long-term reality, that of an eternity separated from our God.  In remembering His grace in Jesus Christ, we truly do have a light that will guide, even when times seem at their darkest.  Titus 2 v 11 – 14 states:

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Casual Christianity

Casual Christianity

Working in a professional environment for the past 20 years, appropriate dress is something that has come with the territory, such as the mandatory dress code required with certain professions.  That said one of the things I quickly became fond of were those days where I could dress down; that day where everyone can shed the profession veneer and dress, as we call it, “casual”.  For many businesses, this idea of dressing casual has become such a hit that a day or days of the week have been designated as casual days and being honest, I look do forward to them.

Thinking on the term casual, and looking beyond the doors of the office space, I can’t help but see how its identity, that of the casual being, has permeated our culture.  The relaxed, unconcerned and indifferent person seems to have found his/her place in our dress; the way we look; how we act, an area I find humorous when trying to imagine what that might even look like; “Act casual”, one friend says to another as he/she struggles with how to play it in the presence of a love interest; and sadly, down to the most intimate area of life, that of our sex lives.  It seems as if there is room for the casual individual in any and all circumstances and, if accepted for the Christian, would put them in eternal danger.

In Revelation 3 v 14 – 22 Jesus writes through the Apostle John to the church of Laodicea, a church that in retrospect, had become casual with their faith.  Jesus speaks to the heart of the issue in verses 15 when he says:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

In speaking, He is confronting a church who had achieved prosperity in Christ to the point where they felt they no longer needed anything; a place the writer of Proverbs 30 v 8 – 9 warned against in saying:

“but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’

Laodicea had gotten to this point and it was going cost them as it does many in the faith who become casual towards grace and what it cost for us to receive it.

When thinking about the reality of the casual Christian, the question that comes to mind is how one gets to that point.  I believe the answer is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.  In Roman 12 v 2, a life verse for me, Paul states the following:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The issue and the answer is found in ones conforming or adapting to the pattern of the world around them.  What if the pattern is one that is not in line or worse, goes against the will and way of God?  What is the Christian to do in the face of such pressure?  Thankfully, and as always, we can look to Jesus for the answer.

In reading the gospels you will come across instances where Jesus was criticized for he and his disciple’s unwillingness to follow the lead of the religious leaders of the day.  Two issues come to mind when thinking on this, those of fasting and washing.  In the first, they are criticized for not fasting like the rest of them; to which Jesus responded in Mark 2 v 19:

“Can the guests of the bridegroom fast while He is with them? As long as He is with them, they cannot fast.”

With the second, Jesus is criticized because his disciples aren’t washing before the touching food.  Now, I hear you saying, “Sean, isn’t promoting healthy hygiene a good thing?” and on the surface, that is right but, this wasn’t there concern and Jesus calls them on it in Matthew 15 v 11:

“A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but” by what comes out of it.”

Pressures facing Jesus were in relation to custom and he used logic in showing the difference in His heart compared to theirs.  In the case of fasting Jesus states His presence and that they couldn’t be anymore closer to God in that time.  Jesus isn’t saying that fasting shouldn’t be done but that with the Christ present, it wasn’t necessary.  With the washing, Jesus is showing that their reasoning was backwards.  Food touched and consumed by unclean hands doesn’t make us spiritually unclean.  It may make you sick but, with a right heart, isn’t going to separate you from God and He states this truth in Matthew 15 v 17 – 18:

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?  But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.”

Interesting thing about patterns is that they often change.  We see this looking at culture and what drives it from generation to generation.  Knowing this, Jesus wasn’t going to allow the worldly pattern to influence him.  He didn’t come here for that reason and it is not the reason we are here; to be blown in whatever direction the worldly pattern would decide to take us.  Jesus came to define it and there was nothing casual in His to patterning the good, pleasing and perfect will of God; a will we can know and live out ourselves.

If there was ever anything to be casual about, our faith, God’s grace in Christ isn’t it.  To be relaxed, unconcerned and indifferent is to be spit out; the result illustrated in Jesus’s writing to the Laodiceans in Revelation 3 v 16.  The casual Christian is a wasted Christian who only hurts themselves and more than that, those looking for the truth in an ever-changing world.  For the one thinking I may be stretching things to far, I highlight a few quotes taken from Philip Yancey’s book “Church, Why Bother?”.

Poet Anne Sexton puts it, “They pounded nails into his hands.  After that, well, after that everyone wore hats …”
Atheistic philosopher Friedrich Nietzche said, “I would believe in their salvation if they looked a little more like the people who have been saved.”

May this never be said of me or us and if it could be said, I repent and pray the same for you as well.

God Bless – Sean Bosse