The Family Effect

The Family Effect

In 2016, with the Syrian refugee situation being at a crisis point for some time now, Canada had been given the opportunity to show its character to the world.  In our response to accept 25,000 new comers; dispersed in various places across the country; it was a marvel to see so many in our community come together to assist in the settlement of those families being placed here in Saint John.  In playing our role, Christa and I have had the privilege of being a part of what is called a welcome team.

The night we were to welcome the family we were to support, we received a call indicating that there was a second, unplanned family flying into the city with no welcome team to great them.  Our team being larger than most; and with a need to be met; we quickly decided that we would be the welcome team for this second family; in effect doubling our responsibilities.  Our days and nights were hectic to say the least with our responsibilities ranging from housing to babysitting; from healthcare to grocery shopping.  Of all the things tasked to us as a part of a welcome team, it has been those things not on the to do list that have had made the lasting impact.  A pleasant surprise that has involved and impacted us as a family; a concept I would like to elaborate on further.

In spending time with our families one thing has become abundantly clear, the families they have left behind have been replaced with our presence.  It had only been a few days before we were reminded of this by the father of our first family.  In sharing their experiences and pouring out their hearts to us, the expectation had been set in the saying of 3 words; words that once again demonstrate the power to break down walls; “WE LOVE YOU”.

In hearing those words, I reflect on the times where someone had said they loved me when they hardly knew me.  I remember the hope I had in those words but knowing the most likely outcome would be the misunderstood emotions of youth, they always felt hallow.  Many years later, having lived in the love of my savior Jesus; an instant and all-consuming love; I felt the truth and sincerity in those words from our new friends.  As Christians we are family and we are loved!

Through these 2 Muslim families; a Samaritan story if there ever was one; God is broadcasting the truth of the status of those covered by the grace of our Father in Jesus.  Our familial status has been established and in the finished work of Jesus, it is instant.  Regarding family, the living word states the following in Ephesians 1 v 5 – 6 & 13 -14:

“In Love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

Hebrews 11 v 10 – 11:

“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.  Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”

Romans 5 v 4 -5:

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

In the scriptures above an understanding of who we are in relationship to Christ and each other is clearly illustrated.  We are one and our understanding, respect and love for each other visibly illustrates the health of this spiritual body.  Even more than that, our health is the visible illustration to a world with so many seeking and being called into a family that has eternal implications; the family of God.  Far too often what has crippled the church most, a problem since the beginning and outlined in 1 Corinthians, has not been how we have treated those we seek to evangelize but those who are our own; our brothers and sisters in Christ; all visible for the unbeliever to see.  The concept of family needs to be understood if we are to have the impact on a world so in need of truth.  How can we claim to love God but harbor hate for our professed brother and sister as detailed in 1st John; I have a good friend named Micah to thank in helping me realize this.

It has never been about the need when looking at the body of Christ but the want that has resulted in growth the church.  In Christ we realize that our Father wants a relationship with us and it is that revelation of sonship that has me most encouraged.  God wants us; God wants you.  We are valued and valuable.  We need to be one, as God is one; we need to be together as much as a family needs to be unified.  A point the apostle Paul makes clear when trying to strengthen and encourage a fractured church in Corinth.  1st Corinthians 12 v 24 – 27 states:

“But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

In closing, allow me to share with you changes that have taken place regarding my own familial status over the years.  I pray that Christ’s victory in my life encourages you and the body of believers at large.  Throughout the course of my life I have gone from being fatherless to fathered through the process of adoption.  I have lived through a broken home; a broken family and have made mistakes seen in a product of those circumstances.  I have been hurt by those who said they loved me and I have hurt those I said I loved most.  At 19 years of age, my establishment as a son of God welcomed my presence into the eternal family of God through the finished work of my savior Jesus.  I have gone from being a husband to a father; from thinking I had one biological brother, to finding my biological father and the 4 sisters and a brother I never knew.

As one can see, my familial status has changed many times and as my life runs its course and I expect that to continue.  I belong to, and will for eternity, a family where my status is secure; something that honors God when lived out in the body.  Whether in Central America or here in Saint John, I have seen the truth of this revelation change lives; leading to an ever-growing eternal family.  If you are reading this and God is calling you, it’s all about the family.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

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Hidden Prejudice

Hidden Prejudice

Prejudiced!!  A label that anyone in the right frame of mind would seek to avoid.  It is a label that carries a context that can divide even the closest of relationships.  A label whose imprints can be found throughout the entirety of our history, present day included; resulting in many a town being painted red.  It is a label whose context has also been abused, misused & misplaced.  One not look any further than today’s application to those of the conservative mindset.  A believer willing to risk their views being known regarding sex in our culture, pro-choice & pro-life is sure to inherit the label of prejudice and wrongfully so.

Prejudice – prejudgment, or forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case. (Wikipedia)

In the reading of the above meaning, 4 things can be observed for take away’ s:

  • Infers a rush to judgment
  • Relevant facts that need to be considered
  • Each case is singular
  • A process is at place

Considering the above as well as humanities use of the term throughout our history, one could be left with the question that Pilot himself had when confronting Jesus and his Lordship, “What is Truth?”.  Can clarity be found for the believer in a world that is becoming more secular, indifferent & faithless; that allows them to be confident in their identity in Christ while living out their faith.  Again, I find myself so thankful for my Savior and his word.  When considering the source, I should not be surprised that it is the old testament where clarity is found.  A location that many often refer to when criticizing Christian beliefs, without knowing the hearts from which they come.  For the believer themselves, it is a piercing reminder of God’s heart and where ours need to be.  Created in the image of our God, then we know it will be our actions that define who we are and who’s we are.  Reference James 2 v 14 – 26.

In the Old Testament book of Jonah, we read about the city of Nineveh and its impending judgment.  Often what is remembered when we hear the name of Jonah is the man who was swallowed by the fish because he was running from the call God had given him.  What can easily get over looked is that this man was a prophet of God who was called to go to an area with the message of repentance for a people known for their evil ways.  It was the Assyrian empires capital city whose wickedness had come up before the Lord; wickedness that can be seen in the world today as well as in the communities with which we live.

One would assume that Jonah would have been running out of fear as Nineveh’s reputation was well known.  But further examination of the scripture reveals that to not be the case.  When reading the book of Jonah, one gains great insight into the heart of our God and his desire for mercy. But there’s another take that cuts to the heart of us as a body and our ability to minister and use Jonah 3 v 10 – 4 v 3 as my source of reference.  In it is read the following:

“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.  But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.  He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.  Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

In reading the scripture above we see that prejudice regarding the grace of God was the real reason why Jonah ran from his call.  If not observant, it can often be the reason why we as the body of believer’s struggle to move forward.  Is there a method or motive to our evangelism that has us being more selective than Spirt lead?  Have our emotions to circumstances or people groups been the compass of our outreach?  These are serious questions that need to be answered if we are to respond to a present-day call or a future one.  One should wonder what the testimony of the apostle Paul would have been like if prejudice was allowed to fester during the establishment of the early church.

Many things are happening globally and locally that have us running to build bigger walls, missiles that can travel farther & satellites that can see deeper.  It reminds me of Israel and their lack of faith in a God who had the power and desire to see them be overcomers.  Reference Deuteronomy 1 for insight on that and note that I’m not at all advocating for a lack of due diligence on our part when it comes to public safety.  My concern is a reflection of what Jesus had said to his disciples when they were in the face of a great storm.  Luke 8 v 25 states:

“And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?””

Faith is a gift from God and one that can be increased in a way that has the body seeking Christ as a first line of defense and not falling to our knees as a last resort.

Without listing the litany of scriptures referencing the heart of our savior and the scope of his gospel, I will revert to Jonah and God’s response to his prejudice regarding those who deserved to be saved and those who don’t.  His response is found in Jonah 4 v 11 which reads:

“And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals”

Jesus said the following in Matthew 6:

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.  “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!…”

As a body may our eyes be lights that move our heart in evangelism no matter the depravity, circumstance or individual we face; dispersing the true gospel without prejudice.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Spiritual Malware

Spiritual Malware

Innovation never comes without its costs and fears.  The search for meaning in the midst of it could be broken down in two simple questions; “What is this going to mean for society?”  And “What does progress mean for society if placed in the wrong hands?”  Those who lead us into and through the nuclear age knew this well when weighing the benefits of their perceived progress vs. the outcomes of it falling into the wrong hands.  As seen over and over in the past, there are always those seeking to take what could benefit others, manipulate or pervert it to meet there own selfish and often destructive goals.  In the case of this present technological age, it is no different!

STUXNET …. At the time of its discovery in 2010 was probably one of the most extensive & complex piece of malware (malicious software) anyone in the security world had seen.  Symantec had been engaged to investigate what was perceived to be a new and very real threat.  The type of virus/malware STUXNET represented was known as, what those in the IT security community would call a worm.  What is a worm you might ask?

“A standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers – Wikipedia”

With STUXNET, the vehicle used was of the social engineering type.  Its target was PLC’s (Programmable Logic Controllers); boxes that allow automation of electromechanical processes controlling things like centrifuges; specifically those located in Iranian nuclear power plants.  Can’t say I disagree with this but one has to remember what could be done in the hands of others when looking at all the other machinery PLC’s control.  With access to their plants highly restricted, up to and including how data travelled in and out, standard mediums like Wi-Fi were not an option.  That said, one had to depend on a person bringing the malware into the plant on a mobile medium like a USB stick.  When looking into the suspected origins of the malware, one can surmise that the developers new this could take time.  Population on the part STUXNET’s dispersion and patience on the part of the developers was going to be key.  Eventually, the payload did get delivered with extremely effective results.

When looking at STUXNET, malware and security in general so many parallels can be drawn in reference to life as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.  1st Peter 1 v 13 – 16 states:

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.   As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

As I read this scripture, an uneasiness tempered with excitement floods over me.  The kind of uneasiness one gets when they know a bad storm is coming; but excitement at the same time for the same reason.  Two states of life are laid out in this scripture with a baseline for securing my future as well as yours.

The first is a past state (life); one that had me separated from the God who loves me, while in pursuit of my own will.  Ignorance is the word used to describe that state and it could be applied in two ways.  One being an intentional ignorance and the other, what I would call innocently ignorant; both of which apply to the implementation and use of today’s technology.  In the light of my Savior and the cost of the cross I’m really left without excuse.  Old Testament scriptures in Exodus and Joshua are strong reminders to me of the results of conformity fueled by ignorance.  The second state is one of a life focused on Jesus and the power of his grace through his gospel with holiness as the baseline; a holiness in my actions and my being; always remembering Christ in me as the enabler.

The same type of uneasiness and excitement consumes me when reading the 6th chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus.  Just as a security administrator would use a network of hardware and software solutions to secure, harden and defend their infrastructure; God calls for us to secure, harden and defend ourselves with him providing the tools; his armor.  Everything from his righteousness to his word; from his peace to our given faith to name a few; all enabling us to not only detect the intruder but also defend against him as well as to mount and offense to fight back.

All this talk of control and action; armor and battle, one can get scared and for good reason as we are in a fight; with spiritual and eternal implications.  But, unlike the technological world we live in today, where often the attacks are not seen until it is too late and the attackers anonymous, we know who our enemy is.  In 1st Peter 5 v 8 we hear a familiar call along with the following assessment:

“Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Like a loving father, God has not left us as orphans, unable to provide for and defend ourselves. He is clear about who is against us and him, his intentions when engaging us and as seen in Ephesians 6 the ground on which he seeks to battle us.  Success in this fight will depend on the strength of our spiritual firewalls and their ability to not just detect the signatures (presence) of the devil; but to mount an offence and fight back.  Daily system checks, filtered through the context of scripture; staying up to date and conditioned as an athlete ready to compete are the habits that ensure our readiness in the face of this persistent foe.  A key as indicated before:

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

What a key to victory; a victory won in the blood of Jesus.

To close, if you, like me have been shaken by the recent events around the world; or maybe you’re fighting the enemy on the home front, now might be the time to assess the strength of your armor.  If it is made up of things you have pieced together and is fractured and maybe even crumbling, I implore you to turn to Jesus and the power of his gospel.  If Christ is your savior but the battle has you hurt and full of anger, I encourage you to again turn to Jesus for rest and restoration as our Father in Heaven is one abounding in grace and love.  With the Holy Spirit making his home in us, we will continue to be enabled and prepared for the works that glorify his great name; with the defeat of our common enemy being at the top of the list.

Take heart, be encouraged and God bless. – Sean Bosse

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

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