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

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Counterfeit Detection

Counterfeit Detection

As an IT specialist with a background in security, the one thing I’ve come to realize is that nothing is ever truly secure.  There never seems to be a shortage of those seeking to prove the point whenever an innovation in technology is released; a parallel I see when looking at the world of counterfeiting and its process of imitating something valuable or important with an intent to deceive or defraud.

Thinking on the issue today, I must admit, there are many instances where imitation has benefited society.  All those no name brand items which have made many a necessity affordable for the majority come to mind.  Food, clothing, house hold and medication items are just to name a few but coming back to the original definition, the counterfeit or faking issue is something that has plagued society and if I’ve learned anything from watching “Pawn Stars” it’s that if there is something of value, it’s likely to be faked.

This issue of counterfeiting or faking has created an atmosphere of distrust resulting in consumers having to be diligent when being sold something; whatever it may be.  One must really do their homework if they are to spot the fake and when it comes to Christianity, it is no different.  In warning the believers of his day, as he does us today, Jesus states the following in Matthew 7 v 15:

“Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves”

In his warning to the believers in Ephesus, Paul states the same in Acts 20 v 29 when he says:

“know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.”

In this issue of counterfeits in the faith it is no coincidence that the wolf is used in describing such a person as they truly do prey on the weak and ill-prepared.

In the case of a fake, detection is always key.  Wisdom and knowledge were always the context with which the believers of the early church operated.  This is emphasized in Peter’s writing to the believers found in 1 Peter 1 v 19:

“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”

Jesus puts a point on it when stating in John 5 v 39 & John 10 v 37 – 38:

“You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me,”

“Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.  But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works,”

Scripture was the baseline for all the believers senses as it should be for us if we are to detect the fraud and deception of our enemy Satan.

When seeking to detect a fake, another useful tool aiding in the pursuit has been the test.  Whether it is currency, food, sport, etc., often a test is needed to determine authenticity.  For the fraudulent, it is often what they fear most.  A fraud will go to great lengths in their efforts to avoid a test but when it comes to Jesus and his gospel, the test is welcomed as we see in 1 Thessalonians 5 v 20 – 21 & 1 John 4 v 1:

“Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

But even with the knowledge, even after the tests, the truth is there are still a few last steps we must take.  As is often the case, it is these last few that can be the toughest and Proverbs 3 v 5 – 6 sheds the light on them:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

It is only in the trusting and submitting that Jesus through the Holy Spirit enables us, as the Psalmist says, to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46 v 10); a peace that truly does transcend all understanding (Philippians 4 – 7).

To close, I refer to something seen all too often in the world of buying and selling.  If there is an imitation to be sold, there will always be a willing buyer.  Sadly, so many settle for the knockoff; the counterfeit; when the real thing was readily available.  When it comes to our Savior Jesus Christ, the saying “Often imitated; never duplicated.”, was never truer.  In word and deed, He stands above all.  For the seeker, the one who searches with all their heart, you can trust and know that he will be found. (Jeremiah 29 v 13)
My prayer is that you are found in Him and Him in you; to settle for less is death and death eternal.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

In With The New

In With The New

If one is ever found to be in a mood of reflection, it is almost always as one year ends and another begins.  For many, heading into a new year is a time of great anticipation.  In business, those who performed well financially in the previous year look forward to the start of a new one.  The same can often be said for those who have progressed in areas of education and sports or, experienced growth in their families or improvements in their health.  But for many others it can be a fearful time; a time of continued struggle in the face of an unknown future.

As I look back on the past year I can’t help but think of those who have been or are still hurting.  Loss in the form of employment, relationships, good health and loved one’s plague society.  Knowing this to be a reality for many, I empathize with those who are fearful or even dread the thought of facing another year.  When thinking on the future in front of them, I’m wondering what truths could be found in Christ that could give them the strength to move forward.  Thankfully many are found for those whose trust is placed in Jesus Christ and I outline 4 that I pray encourage you to boldly, courageously and confidently face the uncertain future.

  • When hardship or suffering happens, we’re are often left with the question of why. Scripture found in John 16 v 33 flips the question of why in reading the following:“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”In saying “you will have tribulation”, Jesus is stating that we will struggle, we will suffer.  Now I understand that you might say, “Sean, how is this encouraging?” and I get it but, the answer is found in the heads up.  It is not a question of why but when and anger doesn’t have to consume me as Christ didn’t promise perfection in this life.
  • The above stated, in my flesh I would still want to know; as if to somehow avoid the problem. The reality is I don’t know but, there is one who does as revealed in reading Psalm 139 v 1 – 4 and Isaiah 46 v 10.“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
    “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
    In these words, I gain confidence in the fact that my Savior knows all and as a good friend and fellow Pastor often said, “If God brings you to it, He will see you through it”.

Before I go on I must confess that the thought of God knowing and allowing suffering can be hard for even Christians to understand and accept but knowing the Creator to be greater than the creation, I move forward encouraged.

  • Knowing that we all suffer, including the Christ, it is an encouragement to know that Jesus thought of us as he faced the pain of the cross. In reading John 17 we encounter Jesus praying and in his prayers, he focuses on three areas; himself, the disciples and all us believers.Despite all he had been through and was about to go through, his thoughts where on us and that he would be with us as stated in verse 26, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” That in the end I would see his glory, with him, as stated in verse 24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”For the non-believer thinking what about me, know that he wants relationship with you as his creation.  2 Peter 3 v 9 confirms this in stating:

    “The LORD is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

  • In Christ, we don’t have a Savior who is unable to relate to our struggle. This is affirmed in our reading of Hebrews 4 v 15 which states:“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.”As a man Jesus endured all we endure today and more than that, suffered all for our sake.  1 Peter 2 v 24 states:


He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By His stripes you are healed.”

In these words, Jesus relates to us so that we in turn would relate and turn to him and so be healed; eternally.

In closing this out, I refer to a saying I’ve heard many times in my life, “Out with the old; in with the new”.  It is my prayer that as we contemplate all that has been said, that we would flush out all the lies and the fears of years past.  In purging the waste, take hold of the new life found in the living God; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and by the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, live.

God Bless

Christmas Miracles

Christmas Miracles

Christmas Miracles!!!  A term so often used this time of year.  What will they be?  Where with them come from?  Being a history junkie, for me the sound of silence and peace on earth is one of the greatest Christmas miracles I can think of.  When considering the trench warfare of World War 1; an unexpected output of the war; battles fought in the trenches are described as some of fiercest battles fought; lasting almost the entirety of the war.  But, the evening of the 24th of December – 1914, the guns of the western front would fall silent in what has been called the Christmas Truce.  Surrounded by the bitter fruits of war, death and the hate it produced, the thought of warring enemies coming together in a show of displayed humility absolutely defies logic.  A process started at the lowest ranks of both sides, leaving friend and foe standing on the same hallowed ground laughing, singing carols and exchanging gifts.  In an environment like that, with the pleasantries of life nonexistent, something as small as a cigarette was a great gift.   With conditions at an incomprehensible level, the remembrance and celebration of the birth of Jesus in the depths of hell on earth was enough to stop the fiercest fight.  My heart is broken at the thought of the reconciliation only lasting a day.

It is Christmas 2017 and I find myself wondering what this year’s miracles will be; the kind that leave one with a treasured memory.  For some it may be a marriage proposal or an unexpected visit from a loved one; for others, it may be a positive health prognosis or just the food on the table.  Whatever it is, the joy and anticipation of the season can at times cover even the darkest of shadows.  I must confess though, with all that has happened this year personally as well as domestically and overseas, the shadow seems to loom larger as this year comes to a close.  Knowing that simply reflecting on the life of Jesus; the process and power that brought about his coming; has the power to get us out of our present-day trenches, I’m hopeful.  That said, like the Christmas Truce, for some the moment of peace may be just that, a moment and I’m left asking…why?

For those who can relate, winter blues is often the diagnosis for those who struggle with depression during the winter months of the year.  Coming out of this year, the thought of what the shadow will be for some and myself if I’m not cognizant, certainly has impacted my prayer life.  Many reason the shorter days, a hangover resulting from the past years Christmas escapism, unrealized resolutions, among others to be potential contributors to the winter blues effect.  I personally think record dumps of snow should be at the top but joking aside, I do struggle with how one can go from the heights of joy and peace to the depths of depression and more so for the person trusting in Jesus.  Why can’t joy sustain us the way the lead up to the season as well as the season itself does?   Posture, and of the spiritual heart kind, I believe is the key as seen in the pictures of those coming out of the trenches of World War 1; a posture that provides clues to the problem, with Jesus and his word at the forefront of the solution.

In his book “Reconcile”, author John Paul Lederach states the following regarding hate and its power to deceive,” Be careful about what you hate.  You may find that like a blind fold it removes your ability to see.  Look first for what you see of yourself in others.  Love the sinners and see yourself in them.  There you will find God”.    Finding common ground is often the first building block in the process of reconciliation.  In the trenches of WW1, the fact that both sides were enduring under the same circumstances lead to empathy for him who was considered the enemy; changing the posture of their hearts towards each other, starting a process of reconciliation.  We see this lived out in the life of the beloved Abraham Lincoln; considered to be America’s greatest president.  In his book “The Emotional Healthy Leader”, author Peter Scazzero states of the late Lincoln,” He made it clear that God had not taken sides in the Civil War,”, a result of sin itself.  And, “When the war ended, Lincoln harbored no hatred or need for revenge against his former enemies, offering forgiveness and reconciliation to those who surrendered.”, the central theme and purpose of God in Christ and his word.

Everything from God’s conversation with Lot to Jonah and the Ninevites illustrate the posture of his heart toward us.  But the one that stands out the most to me is found in the gospels of Jesus and his encounter with tax collectors(Publicans) named Matthew and Zacchaeus.  Luke 5 v 27 – 32 states:

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi(Matthew), sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”  And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.  And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.  And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 19 v 1 – 10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.  When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.  All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Commentaries on these encounters paint a clear picture of the role of a tax collector in early society and the hatred cast on them.  I imagine that some of the anger was earned, as illustrated in Jesus’s encounter with Zacchaeus.  If he was concerned about taking more than was due, it is likely to have happened often for those in that position.  It is said that extortion was a way of padding their income; leading to the hatred seen and projected on them blankly as a whole.  The societal view of them, up to the high levels of the religious circles, was that they were all sinners and I don’t see anything done from the level of those in power to quell the fallout.  The voice of reason, as always, is Jesus’s response in these encounters.  With Matthew and Zacchaeus, as should be the case with all of us, the reminder of our current sinner state was not necessary to change the posture of a heart.  It was the good news of grace delivered and received in the same way a compassionate health care provider would diagnose and apply a cure.  Spiritually speaking, compassionately applying the cure to the disease plaguing our souls.

Jesus demonstrates the ability to identify common ground from which to build from.   Scripture reveals that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in his image and for the Christian, the ability to form to his likeness; a likeness of character and ability.  With the world changing and immigration at the forefront for Canada, I pray for a Christmas miracle that would have us laying down our flags and weapons if needed; to be led by the Spirit out of our trenches as those in desperate need of an encounter with Jesus come out of theirs, the immigrant, family member, friend, co-worker or stranger and be an available contributor to the process of reconciliation and restoration; to the glory of our father in heaven.

Just like the posture of your body can affect the size of your shadow, I pray that the posture of your heart this season would be towards Jesus Christ and his gift of reconciliation; casting a restored shadow of joy and hope that not just sustains but guides you through this season and all the coming years; always singing it is well, it is well with my soul.

Merry Christmas and God Bless – Sean Bosse

The Costly Christmas

The Costly Christmas

Of all the missions’ trips I’ve been on over the years, I’ve been blessed to have served in a few locations multiple times; the country of Guatemala being one of them.  Looking back I can sadly say that I do have a few regrets.  Some might look at me and say, “Sean, you’re on mission for Jesus.  What’s to regret about that?”  But never the less, I do have a few and as is the case, one stands above them all from one of my trips to Guatemala.

After several days of fruitful work, we had the chance to travel around and browse through the markets.  We found ourselves in Antigua and after a day of sightseeing and shopping, exhausted, we proceeded to the pickup spot to be transported back to our residence.  It was during the walk back that I was approached by an older lady and her sibling trying to sell what looked like a table cloth.  Truth be told I didn’t want to buy the item as I was done shopping, but this lady was persistent and would not leave my side so I threw out a price that would not budge on.  It was a low-ball offer that I had hoped would lead to her giving up but as I said, she was persistent and four blocks later we still hadn’t agreed on a price.

Eventually getting to our transport she conceded and as I was about to cross the street to leave I purchased the item.  I’ll never forget what she said as we made the exchange, “This, which was $10 American, wouldn’t be enough to feed her family.”  Maybe it was the effects of another day in the sun or exhaustion from another day on my feet, but her comment never registered with me at the time.  I remember, as I got in the van, feeling like I had won.  That I had gotten the better of deal instead of them getting the better of me this time.  It wasn’t long after I returned home that this feeling would evaporate and my perspective on value would be changed for the long term.

It was during the reading of scripture that I came across a section of text that took me right back to the coble stoned streets of Antigua.  In Proverbs 20 v 14 it states:

“It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer– then goes off and boasts about the purchase.”

In the reading of this scripture I was taken back to purchase I had made and confronted with what I had done.  Convincing the street lady that what she was offering was not worth the price she was asking, I had successfully decreased the perceived value of an item I knew was worth far more, just to get my way.  Reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas, I can’t help but wonder if we in the faith are not doing the same.

It wasn’t that long ago it seems that Christ was the center of Christmas.  Parades had the representation of most churches in the community; schools celebrated the birth of our Savior in play song and you could wish everyone a Merry Christmas without fear of offence.  Today the message of “Keep Christ in Christmas” can be found on many a sign and bumper sticker as if to say He has been or is becoming lost in our cultural consciousness.  In light of this devastating reality, and the fact that I too can get caught up in the consumption of the season, I have found myself looking at the Christmas story from a different perspective; one that I will share with you now.

In John 1 v 1 – 2 we read the following regarding Jesus and His place before coming to earth:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.”

The above was further emphasized in 1 John 1 v 2 when it says:

“The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”

In Jesus’s own words He states:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.

At Christmas, we celebrate the gift of Christ and his entry into our world but in reading the scriptures above a different narrative comes to light; one of sacrifice.

In thinking of the sacrifice of Christ one often automatically looks to His crucifixion.  One would not be incorrect in doing that but, to view the crucifixion as the only or main reference to sacrifice in the life of Christ would be incorrect.  To believe that does nothing but to devalues the life of Christ.  His sacrifice didn’t start at Calvary but started at home, in Heaven with his Father, where he was from the beginning.  He willingly set aside the eternal to come into our world the same way we all do, to be a living sacrifice for us all.  The Apostle Paul highlighted Christ’s purpose to the Romans of his day, as he does for us today, in Romans 5 v 8 when he says:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is this costly reality that has brought the perspective and the true joy as I reflect on Christmas and how we can keep Christ at its center.  Anything else only seeks to cheapen the season and is the point I now refer to as I finish.

In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Christian theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer highlights a problem that plagued the church of his day, a problem I believe still plagues us today, that of CHEAP GRACE.  He describes it as the, “justification of the sin without the justification of the sinner”; that “grace alone does everything so everything can remain as it was before.  The is a huge problem that the Apostle Paul condemns in Romans 6 v 1 when he says:

“By no means! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?”

I say, may this never be.  Based on the cost, it will never be.

So, with that, if the buildup of another Christmas does nothing but rob you of peace and joy, may the true cost of the season, that of the complete sacrifice of our Savior, fill you back up this year and beyond.  If we were never allowed to celebrate another Christmas again, you will always have reason for the season because of Jesus.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Grafted In

Grafted In

Illness has a way of changing one’s perspective and at times, it happens in an instant.  Recent events witnessed in the life of a friend of mine have my spirit reflecting and in this case the context relates to circumstances that had left him having to face a new world and a new way of living.

Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 12, his life had to change from one of free living; do what you want, eat what you want; to that of structure and routine if he was to keep the illness in check.  Unfortunately though, when he got older, an addiction gripped him and it was only a matter of time before his body would start to fail.  A life of hard living and neglect, both physically and spiritually had taken its toll and the illness he was diagnosed with as a youth now started to take over.

Diabetes is a devastating disease that can often wreak havoc on the body resulting in all kinds of problems and in the case of my friend, he was no exception.  Of all the things those living with Diabetes face, tissue alteration and poor circulation are a few of the more visible, destructive and painful to deal with.  Amputation is often the remedy; despite ones best efforts taken to prevent it.  For my friend it started with damage done to an already suffering foot, leading to the amputation of a few toes.  From there it was more of the same foot which led to the final and most recent amputation of his leg below the knee resulting in whole new way of life for him going forward.

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, how much does a person have to go through before they realize they need to change?  Thankfully for my friend it wasn’t long after his diagnosis that he found himself in recovery.  He would say, “That was the Lord’s doing”, as he was restored physically in the overcoming of his addiction and spiritually in his relationship with God through Christ in the meeting of a Godly women who would become his wife.

During a recent visit with them to offer prayer and encouragement, I asked him how he felt.  He indicated that he could tell his leg was gone and that it was more than just a visual thing.  His body could sense that a part of him was missing and it wanted it back; something he knew for man was not possible.  But, as is the case with Christ, what is impossible for man is never impossible for God.

In Romans 11 v 11 – 32, God speaks metaphorically through the Apostle Paul to the Israelites and the Gentiles regarding his power and authority to graft in or amputate out those who accept or reject his offer of grace in Christ.  He says following in verses 22 – 24:

“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.  And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!”

From these verses we understand that it is God, our creator, who is the surgeon operating at the table on the body.  And like a surgeon, he has the eye for that which is dangerous and needs to be removed as well as that which is healthy and can be attached or put in.  And, what are we attached to you might say?  That answer can be found in verse 18 taken from the same chapter which states:

“do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

It is the root we are attached or grafted into that provides us life.

Now speaking plainly, what or who is that root?  The answer is found in John 14 v 6 when Jesus says:

 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The answer is Jesus!  The answer is and always will be Jesus!  The final question is, will he be the answer for you?

Coming back to my friend, even though a part of him is now gone, who he is hasn’t changed.  In Christ, he is a son of God and a worshipper of the only true King.  The evidence is found in the life he now lives and who he is living it for.  I’m even so bold as to say that God could give him his leg back and believe this based on what Jesus was able to do for those suffering with Leprosy.  But in saying that, I don’t believe it necessary in light of the finished work of Jesus on the cross and the empty tomb.  We would only be focused on the temporal when God in Christ, through the indwelling power and presence of His Holy Spirit, leads us to embrace the eternal.  I pray that as you read you would be grafted in as one referenced in Ephesians 2 v 13:

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

To the betterment of our body and His kingdom.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

PS: Special thanks to my friend for the permission to write this.  You know who you are.

A Good Student

A Good Student

Of all the things I would have been known for growing up, being a good student was most certainly not one of them.  In thinking about why, I can’t honestly come up with an answer to explain it.  If asked, I’m sure most of my teachers would say that I just didn’t try but to me that still doesn’t explain it.  I could certainly come up with excuses but I’m sure they would only point the finger at someone else instead of myself, where the responsibility really rests.

All through my middle and high school years my mother would continually remind me that I would regret not doing better and as most moms usually are, she was right.  I will remind her that I did pass every grade but for many, it was by the skin of my teeth; a fact highlighted by a stint of summer school I endured to get through my grade 10 year.  But in the end, her words rang true the day I graduated and even more so when I started University as I was not at all ready.

My university career didn’t last a year and nobody, including myself, was surprised.  I knew the importance of an education but had chosen the hard road and it cost me in the short term; as it often does for others.  Everything from education to employment, parenting to marriage, so often the reality is that many are not ready; not ready to take on the roles and responsibilities either placed in front of them or as a result of their actions.  Truth is that we handicap ourselves in our lack of preparation and examples are always readily available.

The Christian faith has never been immune to this problem and this issue of readiness, or lack thereof, is one always to be dealt with head on.  For the person seeking encouragement, it can often be found in the witness of others.  A great example for me is found in an encounter Paul has with Peter regarding something Peter should have done or at least been ready to do.  But, as is the case with fear, it can compel a response in one person and the exact opposite in another.

Galatians 2 v 11 – 13 outlines a time where both Peter and Paul found themselves in a place called Antioch.  When Peter arrived he would eat with Gentile, uncircumcised believers.  In laymen’s terms, this is referring to people who were not Jewish.  But when friends of James showed up, who insisted on circumcision as necessary to the faith, he would no longer eat with them.  Fear had crept in resulting in action and as is the case with actions, they often influence others.  In Peter’s case, there was no exception as many believers, including Barnabas followed his lead.  Paul, recognizing the problem responds with the following in verses 14:

“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?””

Only from a position of readiness was Paul able to act and from there, effectively ministered the truth to the betterment of all around him.

In trying to understand what it takes or what it looks like to be ready I’m fearful some would want to respond by quoting Jesus from a verse found in three of the Gospels where He was speaking to his Disciples.  In the interest of this write up I will go with the account found in Luke 12 v 11 – 12 where Jesus states:

“When you are brought before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say.  For at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say.”

On the surface, the verse appears cut and dry.  The Lord of all creation is providing us with another road and an easy one at that.  And, being honest, who wouldn’t want the easier road anyway? But believing this to be reality would be to wrongly interpret the scripture.  What is the danger in doing that?  Misinterpretation always leads to incorrect application.  For the person, whose desired position is one of readiness, it will require investment and relationship resulting in the clarity needed to minister the word.

In the case of Jesus’s words found in Luke one would be wise to understand the context of both the people and the times.  The audience in question had hearts to know and be filled with his word, both at present and historically from the Old Testament.  For to them, to be filled with the Word was to be filled with true life, the life of Christ and for reference, see John 1 v 1 and v 14.  They also had the desire to be in community with the Father, by Him, through the Spirit resulting in a strong prayer life.  It is from this position that the truth of the scripture rings true and the fear, the worry Jesus refers to, is replaced with eyes that see and ears that hear, allowing us to respond in correspondence with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

To close I can thankfully say it wasn’t long after I had left university that God drew me to himself and saw fit to educate me both secularly and in my spirit.  My mother’s warning had been supplanted by Jesus’s call to repentance and new life.  A call that, decades later, continues prepare me and those God puts in my path while knowing and living in the truth of Psalm 119 v 105 which states:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”

I pray this to always be the case for myself and my family as Disciples of the King and pray this to be the case for you as well; both in the world today and the one to come where we will all meet Jesus face to face.

God Bless – Sean Bosse