Month: January 2017

Being Prepared

Being Prepared

“BE PREPARED” – Scout’s Motto

When looking at my upbringing I’m always grateful for the fact that I can say there have been those who took the time to invest in my life. Family members, Ministers, teachers all played a role in my upbringing at one time or another.  But what I find myself thinking about at the moment is my time as a Boy Scout.  I have many great memories of my time in the Scouts program and attribute much of my knowing that I could turn back to God from what I learned and seen of him there.

My introduction to Scouts was via a friend and I remember my first night light it was yesterday. I met those involved, learned the purpose and goals and discovered that my most consistent bully was a high ranking member of the troop; a reality I quickly grew to love.  I found out immediately that he was serious about Scouts; a fact that surprised me as I didn’t think he took anything serious other than beating me up whenever possible.  I took every chance afforded to test his loyalty and paid for it outside on more than a few occasions.  Making him look bad, along with the fact it made my dad (Dad who raised me) so happy, fueled my early attendance and after a while, I grew to love it myself.

Scout’s was a safe place for me growing up.  I was doing something my brother wasn’t and it created a connection for my Dad and me.  He loved everything about Scouting and even got involved himself from time to time.  Not being a great communicator, looking back, I think it was an avenue for him to teach me all the things he wanted me to know but couldn’t say.  Communication wasn’t easy in the home but with Scouting we found ourselves doing a lot more together without the need to actually say anything.  I credit much of this time together to the most Godly man I knew at the time, my Scout leader Bill Wright.

A man known to only have about 25% of heart functioning correctly, Bill certainly didn’t live a life that reflected it.  Our troop was a hodge-podge dysfunction.  We had more than our share of group and broken home kids.  Based on the characters in our troop I know it was intentional on Bill’s part to seek out those deemed a lost cause or a project and welcome them to the troop.   We were treated as God’s creation and the expectation of us was to do the same.  As an example, when my parents separated and it was hard to see my dad, Bill encouraged the invite for him to join us.  Then there was the weekend retreat with the Middle East refugee.  To say we were all nervous is an understatement but Bill wasn’t.  It was like he could sense opportunities to live out his faith and be an example for us and it is now, as I write this out that the weight of what he was doing hits me.  It was as much about the spiritual wilderness as it was the physical; he was discipling us.

As a Scout Master, Bill was answering the call that we all as Christians have; the commission call of Matthew 28 to go and make disciples.  He was preparing us with the expectation that we would then go and prepare others.  Discipleship is all about preparation and one of the best examples of its depth and purpose was on display in Jesus’s washing of the disciple’s feet.

Scripture tells of Jesus and his disciple’s coming together to celebrate Passover; a time for the Jewish community to remember God’s grace in delivering them from the hands of the Egyptians. (Reference Exodus for details) Jesus knew his time was drawing near and that he would soon be betrayed so he was making the most of it.  As they gathered round, Jesus proceeded to wash each of his disciple’s feet.  A most humble act I can assure you.

With Nike’s non-existent, the first thing one would want to do when entering a home to eat would be to wash their feet. Those of that time ate around tables that would have been low to the ground, if they were not eating off the ground itself.  To not wash ones feet would be equivalent to leaving the washroom and without washing your hands.  With all that the feet of those days could accrue, Jesus’s desire to wash them was a demonstration of absolute humility.

Peter’s response exemplifies the shock the disciples must have felt. Knowing this, when finished Jesus explains his actions as seen in John 13 v 15 – 17:
“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
In this we realize the purpose of discipleship and the role it plays in the life of a believer as well as the church.  To be an example of a better way and to then, by the grace of God, lead the lost into it.

If the church is be effective in a world desperately in need of Jesus; for those saved by his grace and striving to walk the Christian walk; our example has to be more than just words, it has to be matched by what we do. 1 Peter 3 v 15 states:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
This command tells me 2 things. The first being that the way we live our lives and whom we are living them for is going to be vastly different than those who live apart from Christ.  The second is that there will be those who want, if not demand, a reason for it.

Coming to grips with discipleship is key if we are to be prepared and if we are to assist in the preparations of others. I have to ask, are you prepared?  What is the quality of your pray life?  Are you spending enough time in God’s word?  Maybe your preparation starts in turning back to Jesus again or maybe turning to him for the first time.  Do you view your current situation as a discipleship opportunity for yourself or for someone else?  God does.  And I know that he would not want you to waste this opportunity to learn or lead.

In closing, I’m reminded Bill’s passing. Not for the fact that it happened but from whom the news came.  It was in receiving a call from my dad that I heard of Bill’s passing.  He asked if I was going or wanted to go to the funeral home as there was still time to make it.  As I was thinking about it, my dad suggested I should go and even though I knew he was right, I believe it was because he wanted to be there too.  Looking back I believe he realized, as I do now, the importance of what Bill was doing in our lives.  That it helped frame the man of God I was at that time.  I have to ask, has discipleship framed your life?  Is it framing the lives of those around you?  I pray that it is and that your prepared.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Grown Up

Grown Up

Every good husband shares the load regarding house work and it was during a recent stretch of folding laundry that I found myself thinking of the “Most Interesting Man in the World”. (Yes I know, your shocked to hear that it’s not me.)  The commercials always show or speak of him in the most unrealistic ways and doing laundry just may be one of the most unrealistic things a women could find a man doing.  If given the chance, I’m sure some wives would write the catch line for that commercial as follows, “Whenever a man does or folds the laundry, he never does it right.”  Regardless, I was giving it my best when the remarkable happened that left me reflecting on God’s word.

As I was folding I ran into a rather familiar problem. The father of a tall 13 year old daughter, I’m no longer able to tell the difference between my daughter’s clothes and her mothers.  With my wife being over 6 feet tall and now my daughter almost 6 feet tall, I’m often left having to ask one of them the question of “Is this yours?”  I don’t say this to indicate frustration as I find it very comical at this point.  Matter of fact, I feel more pride than anything else.  We are so blessed to be raising a daughter who continues to mature into the God fearing women we pray her to be; a result most parents pray for but sadly, for some, doesn’t happen.

Some youth just never seem to want to grow up. Actions speak louder than words they say and statistics are showing, as is the media, this reality.  The growth issue can be seen through all generations and Christians are not immune.  Growth and maturity issues have plagued Christians and the church throughout the centuries.  The proverbial 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards is seen often.  For some it may be 10 steps forward, 1 step back and it is that step that could be the undoing were it not for the grace of God in Christ.

Life is about growth.   It is of the utmost importance when it comes to God’s children and his church.  Scriptures referring to the vine, pruning and God being the enabler for growth shed the light on this.  (For reference see John 15 v 5, John 15 v 2, 1 Corinthians 3 v 6 – 7).  But as with the physical, there are things that have the power to stunt growth.  With growth being an issue for early believers and churches, we can learn a lot from history if we are to avoid repeating it.

The book of Hebrews is a New Testament book whose author is unknown.  It is a letter written to encourage its readers, those considering leaving the faith in the face of great persecution.  To stay firm in the truth that Christ was and is who he said he was, who they have been waiting for.  Hebrews 5 and 6 provide great insight into what was hindering there growth, creating the room for doubt.  In sadness, I believe the writer indicates the following in Hebrews 5 v 11: “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.”

In reading the words above I can’t help but feel the emotion; even more so when looking at my own life as well as the church of my time. The writer explains further in Hebrews 5 v 12: “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” I take this thought and the revelation of the believers not even trying to understand to mean that they may have had the following problems:

  • A poor prayer life (Hebrews 10 v 22)
  • Neglect of the daily and diligently searching of the scriptures. That they had forgotten (Hebrews 12 v 4).

I would even go so far as to say that they may also have gotten away from the frequent fellowship together (Hebrews 12 v 25), that those of Acts 2 as well as believers present day benefit from.

Growth was also an issue for the church in Corinth, (See 1 Corinthians 3), and this same lack of growth affects believers and churches today.  It’s no wonder to me that these early believers were considering abandoning their faith; if some had not already done so.  The enemy was taking full advantage of their weakened state and I have to ask, is he taking advantage of yours?  Are you feeling weak?  Are you or have you considered abandoning your faith?  If you can relate, let me encourage you by saying that God can bring the change.  He can, as Isaiah 41 v 17 – 20 indicates, bring life to what was once considered dead.  To maximize yours and ours potential, with faith as the enabler.

It takes faith to believe what we believe and even more to live it out. If you are in need of first time faith or maybe just a greater portion, I have good news, I know where it can be found.  Ephesians 2 v 8 reveals faith is a gift from God alone. Romans 10 v 17 says, it is given to those who hear his word; all we need do is ask.  Ask our loving father to give us, as Jesus says in Mark 4 v 9, ears to hear.  And once we’ve heard; once the seed of faith has been planted; that we would take those steps to sure up that which we know to be true.

In providing discipline to the believers of Rome and/or Palestine, the writer of Hebrews is quick to illustrate a key to our growth and maturity. Hebrews 5 v 4 states: “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” In stating this we can determine that maturity comes not in ones sitting back or watching from the sidelines as was the problem for the Thessalonian church.  It is in the living out of our faith that the growth comes.  That as we pray, consume scripture, help the needy and if the Lord wills it heal, we would not be living a life to ritual but, as stated in 2 Corinthians 3 v 18,”And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

To closing, I can’t help thinking about my own time as a youth. All I wanted was to grow up and I hear this from young people all the time.  With adulthood come the opportunities.  As an adult I often find myself thinking the opposite; a sentiment older people often share.  The reality is, as Christian’s we are always growing.  The pursuit of growing up is always before us and we’ll never fully mature until we are home.  That truth keeps me young and I pray that it does for you also.  That you would again look forward to the day when you are all grown up.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

New Year or New Creation

New Year or New Creation

“The goal is not to reinvent yourself by striving to be some perfect person but to allow God to do an extreme makeover by uncovering your true self in his image, redeemed through Christ.” Craig Groeshel – Alter Ego

It is now the start of the year 2017 and I find myself struggling with a familiar dilemma. What can I or will I do this year to top what I did the previous year.  Can you relate?  Have you worked really hard over the past year to improve in a particular area personally or professionally?  Have you fulfilled your resolutions for the past year and are seeking to improve or break ground on new resolutions for the upcoming year.  You’ve set goals and mapped out the road for accomplishing them?  If this is you, I can surely relate.

Goals or goal setting surprises me as growing up I wasn’t one for setting goals nor was anyone looking to me accomplish them. I don’t say this to put anyone down as the body of work I was producing in my teen years would have led anyone to this conclusion.  In thinking of the labels graduates are given or give themselves, I laugh when thinking of what mine would have been.  Most likely not to succeed is what comes to mind first.

Becoming a Christian at 19 years of age, I can say that not much changed initially in the way of my goals or lack of them. Yes, Christ had saved my life and that fact was evident and undeniable.  I had a passion to see anyone I came into contact with to know Christ and what he had done.  But as far as my life plan, there was still a big question mark and I wasn’t sure when or where the answer would come.  Often operating from a sense of what needed to be done rather than what I was made to do.

And then it happened, I found myself back in school, a place I never thought I would set foot in again. In the late 90’s IT (Information Technology) was the hot market and anyone who knew how to assign an IP address seemed to be getting a good job; something most 12 year olds can do today.  Hearing of a school with a good reputation for training and employment, my mother encouraged me to investigate.  It wasn’t long before I had applied, and being successful, began the start of my journey in setting and reaching goals.  If I were to stop here, it would sound like just another success story but that is not the end as I have learned of a few dangers and pitfalls along the way.

Now I should start by saying that goal setting and striving to be better is a good thing, but as indicated, there are traps, if not landmines, one can step on if not careful. For me, it was the success of achieving the goals that became the problem, if not the addiction over time.  I can already hear you saying “but Sean isn’t the point of setting goals to reach them” and yes, I agree that to be the point.  But for me, the rush of achievement became addictive.  I loved the feeling of a perceived successful family, professional life and ministry.  I loved it when people would say that I couldn’t or shouldn’t do this, go here or there, build this or start that.  For me it was the fuel on the fire that, looking back, was toxic and for the life of a believer can become deadly if one is not transparent.  I had allowed, if not created, an idol in my life and to quote Lloyd Christmas from the movie Dumb and Dumber “I got robbed by a sweet old lady on a motorized cart. And I didn’t even see it coming”. (Emphasis Added)

When looking at all that is done under the sun the one thing we always need to consider is the motive and even more so for the life of the believer. Actions once birthed of noble intentions can quickly if not deceptively turn to self-serving without our even noticing it happened.  From Samuel 15 to Psalm 51; Proverbs 21 to Hosea 6; the scriptures are full of references to the heart with which our works are done.  I in particular love what Jesus says when stating the following in Matthew 12 v 7: “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”

In saying this he is referring to Hosea 6 v 6.  When it comes to mercy and obedience; those things at the core of one’s heart; we are defined.  Luke 6 v 45 states: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” It is this truth which sits before me now; motivating, if not imploring me to consider my motives for what lies ahead in 2017.  That, what is found in Psalm 51 v 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” would be found in me.

The Apostle Paul understood this better than anyone. In his proclamation of the Gospel to King Agrippa in Acts 26 he readily admits that before he was saved he was a persecutor of Christ; a persecutor of all that was known and shown to be right and true.  Without him, all his works amounted to death and it is in light of this that he was motivated to become all he could be in Christ.  He sums up his motivation best in Philippians 3 v 7 – 11 when he states: “But whatever was an asset to me, I count as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, so that I may somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Wow, I couldn’t aspire to a better motivation on my best day for 2017 and the years ahead. Fulfillment isn’t found in pursuit of a goal but in pursing Christ to reach the goal.  It is about a Christian being; not a Christian doing.  Doing what you were made to do instead of what you have to do that joy is truly found.  As stated in the quote I started this with but now modify a bit, “That we wouldn’t reinvent ourselves by striving to be some perfect person but to allow God to do an extreme makeover by uncovering our true self in his image, redeemed through Christ.”  As it states in 2nd Corinthians 5 v 17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Happy New Year and God Bless