Author: literarydiscipleship

Forward Thinking

Forward Thinking

As an IT professional and working in the industry for the past 18 years, the one thing I have always become accustomed to has been change. There doesn’t seem to be anything like technology and its constant moving forward.  On more than a few occasions I have found myself investing time training to improve my skillset only to find myself behind still.  As a recent example, I had certified in an industry standard network infrastructure course only to find out, once completed, that an update to the certification was coming the next year.  If I’ve learned anything from the industry is that one must always be thinking ahead, if not one step ahead.

This reality has me thinking of Jesus; as I find circumstances in life often do. In the reading of the scriptures and in particular the words Jesus himself spoke, it is evident that as he faced the present his perspective was that of a forward thinker; this thought of how the present could or would impact the future.  Knowing that this thought process would take into account all of us who have ever lived I, as stated in Psalm 38 v 8, “Stand in awe of God.”

In looking at much of what Jesus had said, two messages come to the forefront as priority; that of a future in store for the unbeliever and the future secured for those who place their trust in Him. In looking at these two specifically it becomes apparent that He has more to say to the unbeliever than to the believer.  Matter of fact, 13% of all of what Jesus said was in regard to the fate of those who die outside of his grace and this should come as no surprise.  In light of any present danger, the priority is always given to those exposed.  That said, for the believer Jesus has some great things to say to remind and encourage the believer who is thinking if not forced to look to the future.

In the face of an uncertain future Jesus was quick to remind his disciples as well as us of his purpose. In John 16 v 7 Jesus states:

“But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

And who is this Advocate you say? It would be the Holy Spirit; the presence of the Living God inside of the believer as a source of guidance and comfort.  And what will Jesus be doing from his place in Heaven you say?  The answer is found in John 14 v 2- 4:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

If doing all this work were not enough, Jesus still puts the needs of us all ahead of his own when praying for us as outlined in John 17 v 20 – 23.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

In placing this in my heart I hear the love He has for me. Even more than that, I see it in all that he has done for us on the cross and in the empty tomb.

Another forward thinker that comes to mind when searching for encouragement in the face of an uncertain future was the Apostle Paul. In spite of all he had faced, he seemed to welcome it in light of the secured future he had in Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 5 v 7 – 9 Paul boldly states the following:

“For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it”

Wow is all I can say. When one’s priority is Christ’s glory, Paul shows that the method of God’s glory is of no concern.  As a precursor to this revelation, Paul was willing to and had become whatever was necessary to save lives by the power of the living gospel.  For further reference to Paul’s freedom in this regard, see 1 Corinthians 9. I simply and humbly pray, “Owe God, that I would have such faith.”

In closing, I refer to the reminder found in Ecclesiastes 5 v 1 which says:

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself after a conversation, “I wished I had listened more and spoken less”. If you are standing in the midst of a storm or a trial, it is my prayer that in you’re searching the scriptures, in your prayers and meditations that you would have ears to hear.  And in the hearing, all the joy the future holds for those who call on his name would be revealed.  As you to think ahead, that you would see and rejoice.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

On Display

On Display

Like the taste buds in one’s mouth, it is remarkable where the joy can come from compared to joys of the past. Not being one for reading or writing growing up or even in my years as a Christian, I’m amazed at the books I’ve read and the words I penned.  Writing has become a passion, if not therapeutic for me these past several years.  Whether it be these write ups or the songs I’ve written, it has been such a blessing to know that I have been used in the spreading of gospel and Christ gets all the glory.

In saying this, it hasn’t always been easy. Like a faucet, on more than a few occasions the gift or inspiration has simply turned off.  Authors call it writers block when it is hard to put pen to paper, when the inspiration is gone.  It has happened to me on more than a few occasions and the culprit in the lead up is almost always discouragement.

Over the past few months I have found it hard to write or even string a few thoughts together. So many of late; loved ones, friends and acquaintances; have been diagnosed with or passed away from some form of cancer or terminal illness.  The result for me has been a depression that I’m unashamed to confess.  One case in particular impacted our family hard as the individual affected was so young and left me with more questions than answers.  In all of it I was left wondering where the encouragement would come from, where the light of Christ would be seen to give us hope.

As is the case almost always it is in the looking back; the after the dust has settled moments where clarity can be found. The biblical parallel to this is found in Matthew 8 and Mark 4 in Jesus’s calming a storm. It was only in the settling of the storm that the disciples had peace.  Another example can be found in John 12 v 16 when the disciples had a chance to reflect on all that had taken place. The verse reads as follows:

“At first His disciples did not understand these things, but after Jesus was glorified they remembered what had been done to Him, and they realized that these very things had also been written about Him.”

I can say that I am having that moment now and the peace has been settling to my soul.

At first I was too afraid to look back as the thought of a Lot’s wife experience, ground zero so to speak, terrified me. But in this case I was not looking back craving a past life, I was looking back for a chance to celebrate life and God’s hand of grace in it.  I feel insight has been revealed to me and I share what I hope to be encouragement for you in the words below.

Of all the instances of cancer and illness I have witnessed, 7 stand out for me right now and mainly due to the fact that they were the ones closest to impact either myself or my family. In each situation what has so inspired me, and it is only now that I see it, is the courage with which they had fought or are currently fighting the battle.  In each case they chose to fight the battle publically for all to see.  What I mean by this is that despite the struggle, they allowed themselves to be vulnerable by being accessible.  When times were at their darkest these individuals were always welcoming and eager to give their love, insight and encouragement to those who love them, know them and even to those who did not know them.

Being on display, for me, has been a direct reflection of what was on display in Jesus and, to be more specific, the lead up and last days of his life.  In Jesus, the God Man, was foreknowledge of what was to come.  Knowing the hearts of men, he fully understood what the mission of his life was leading too and being fully human, did what we all do or should do in times of great distress, he fell and prayed for deliverance.  Matthew 26 v 39 and Luke 22 v 42 both illustrate this but, more importantly on display is Jesus’s prioritization of his Fathers will over his own when he prays:

“Yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Despite the circumstance, Jesus never allowed the enemy to steal his joy; joy of what he knew to be eternally true; joy that sustained the apostles and disciples of old as it does the believers of today.

In looking at the life of Jesus, I see a life always lived in the moment. Despite his surroundings, he never lost sight or sense of his awareness.  He always knew where he was and more than that who he was.  I take great courage in this point particularly as Jesus says we are to be imitators of him and being called to that standard means that in him, it can be achieved.  Paul knew this more than any when he stated the following in 1 Corinthians 11 v 1:

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

I feel I have seen and experienced this imitation and have been greatly comforted.

Passion plays often depict Jesus as suffering through the dialogue with the criminals as they hung on their crosses and I imagine that to be true. The event is outlined in Luke 23 v 39 – 43 as follows:

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.””

Paradise; the absent sting of death! In the suffering, I like to imagine as I read this that Jesus smiled, if not in his spirit, as his he saved the man and that his heart was full in the fulfillment of his purpose.

It is my prayer that if you have suffered or are suffering presently, regardless of the source, that the joy of Christ; the revelation of eternal life now for the believer, would so fill your heart that you would confidently and courageously live life on display; that your iron would be sharpened and your faith strengthened for all to see. I pray this for me and I pray it for you today.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Blown Witness

Blown Witness

As follower of Christ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done things that don’t model the faith in Christ I profess.  Everything from road rage to being an over protective parent; from being competitive to a fault to having a lack of patience; all have left me exposed on more than a few occasions over the years.  And it never seems to fail when I have a moment I’m not proud of or say something I wish I could take back, there always seem to be a pointing finger waiting wings.  It is like they come out of thin air or pop up like a jack in the box to either remind me of my witness or label me as a fraud and neither is ever a pleasant experience to say the least.

I can say that I’ve heard the proverbial “I told you so” more times than I care to remember and one of the more recent episodes happened during a touch rugby game we expected to win.  Our team hadn’t lost all year so when we found ourselves in the championship game, there was no doubt in our minds as to who would win but rather how much we would win by.  As always is the case though, it wasn’t long before we realized things weren’t going to go according to plan and I was transformed into someone unrecognizable, even to myself.

With the game hanging on the edge of a knife everyone’s level of play stepped up.  Touches became shoves; comments turned into screams and there I was, the biggest mouth of them all, right in the middle of it.  Colorful language is how it is always described but reality is there was nothing colorful about it and when the game was over we did lose but that wasn’t what was on my mind.  What was on my mind was the fact that my son had been present for our first game and that I was so thankful he had been taken home early.  I was relieved that nobody in my family was there to witness my failure. But that sense of relief abandon me by the time I had reached the parking lot to head for home.

As is the case with most league sports, when the game is over there are always those who hang behind to conversate.  As I made my way to the parking lot I found myself talking to an old friend who immediately pointed out my actions in light of my ministry and that I wouldn’t want to blow it.  With that already on my mind, I immediately felt the shame and acknowledged my wrong.  It wasn’t the first time I’ve blown it and sadly for me, probably wouldn’t be the last.

To my friend’s credit, not knowing if he is a Christian or not, he was far more gracious in his reminder than I deserved and that has me reflective at this moment.  To encourage Timothy in regards to those claiming to be something they are not Paul states the following in 1 Timothy 1 v 3 – 7:

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.  Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.  The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.  They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” 

In reading the above, I confess my brokenness.  What me hits the hardest is the fact that our, or in this case my, words and actions affect the advancement of God’s work through me.  More than that is my being able to relate to the parting from faith and love only to turn to meaningless talk.  Even more than that, professing to be a minster only to look like a fool.  I humbly repent and pray that my actions never reflect my heart before the eyes of my Father in Heaven.  That the promise found in the shed blood of our Savior would lift my head to proclaim that which was said in Psalms 3 v 3:

“But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” 

Oh Lord that you would lift my head, my heart and then my eyes to you.

As you have read this maybe you can relate.  Maybe your heart is heavy, in need of repentance.  Maybe you’re broken at the thought of what you have done; the times you’ve blown it.  Let me encourage you by saying that Christ’s journey to the cross was to for this very reason.  Jesus helps me understand this in stating the following to the people in John 15 v 24:

“If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin;” 

In doing what only God could do we are found guilty and are broken.  But, for the repentant believer this can be the very place one needs to be as Jesus did say the following in Matthew 21 v 44:

“He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” 

What kind of stone is this Jesus?  Jesus gives the answer in Matthew 21 v 42 when quoting Psalm 118 v 22: 

“Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” 

And what is a cornerstone you say?  It happens to be the stone that all things depend on or are based.  When it comes our brokenness, in Christ our lives are rebuilt with him as the foundation, enabling us to stand.

As I close, I’m reminded of the great Old Testament king, King David.  Known as a man of great faith, courage and resolve; David was also known for his great failings.  In learning about his life what has always amazed me most has been his response when faced with his sin.  Proverbs 28 v 13 speaks of the person who conceals his sin.  That was not David and the result was an outpouring of grace and compassion that increased his faith, producing a desire to not just serve but honor the one true God who made it possible for him to do so.  I pray this for us; when we are outwardly a mess and by our own hand, that our repentant contrite hearts would be covered by Jesus and pleasing to the eyes of our Father in Heaven so we can worship in spirit and truth.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Enough Talk

Enough Talk

Precursor – I have many write created before I started this blog.  Below is one of them I pray encourages.

Growing up in the 80’s I can say that some of my heroes were the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris and, to a much lesser extent, Van Damme. There movies were always  watched with a few friends and it was never long before the coffee table was moved to the corner and the furniture rearranged, creating our own make shift octagon.

Life always seemed to imitate art in those days with the only difference being that the injuries were real. My record was often 1 – 0 when sparing with my friend but almost always dropped to 1 – 1 when his little brother got involved.   Mike was always willing to go farther than I was, resulting in many a painful loss and lesson for me.  Things didn’t change in my early twenties either.  Flying over a couch or pool table seemed to be common place when getting together with buddies from the rugby team.  I can still hear my wife as well as a few of the girlfriends yelling something to the effect of, “Your twenty something years old” or “What the heck is wrong with you guys”.  I guess you’re never too old to test yourself or learn a lesson the hard way.

Fast forward and MMA(Mixed Martial Arts) is something that I’m very much a fan of today and as a Christian, I probably shouldn’t say that as I wouldn’t want to be known for advocating violence. Avoiding a debate on the subject, I will say I certainly respect a person who dedicates their life to a discipline or skillset and also has the desire to test their development and progress.  Like boxing, MMA in its purest form is about just that, putting your training to the test to see where you stand.  Training and promotion always dominate the months leading up to a fight, with a whole host of variables threatening to derail it.

As one would expect, the environment does create for its own set of interesting characters. It really has become a world of heroes and villains; resulting in the lead up to a fight being just as much, if not more entertaining than the fight itself.  I marvel at the prefight investment made when compared to the length of the fights themselves.  A recent example of this was the Aldo – McGregor fight.  A fight that was over a year in the making due to an injury to Aldo during training.  Needless to say, a solid year of back and forth smack talk and fight promotion, lead this to be the most anticipated fight of 2015.  All the talk was of this fight being a war, but to everyone’s shock and amazement it was over in 16 seconds, with McGregor coming out the victor.

With all that goes into preparing for a fight, one can only imagine the feeling of victory mixed with the relief of knowing the hard work was not in vain. Even more than that, one can only imaging the heartache that accompanies a loss.  The critics can be ruthless for those not able to walk the talk, especially when much talk has been made.  A sharp critique Jesus made of the religious leaders when questioned as too why he didn’t follow the traditions of Jews of his day; a warning we would do well to heed in our present day.  In his response he states the following in Mark 7 v 6 – 10:

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

A more graphic example of the above can be found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians regarding those professing that circumcision was still a requirement for salvation. Galatians 5 v 11 – 12 reads:

Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

God’s distain for those providing lip service; those with of a double mind; neither hot, nor cold; those whose actions don’t match their words can be found all through scripture. With God, it is never about the sacrifice; it is and has always been about the heart.  God reveals his heart to us and for us in Jesus.  For us Christians, it should always be understood that it is never about what we do as believers and followers of Jesus, but the state of the heart from which we do it.  A sentiment echoed to those in the letter written to the Romans.  Romans 2 v 28 – 29 states:

A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

With New Year’s now upon us, many resolutions will be made as to what we will do or change in the coming year. With the state of the world domestically and globally, I state mine while recommending a noble resolution to the reader.  For the year 2016, my resolution is to love better.  As a Christian it is the characteristic that should identify us the most; not just in present day society but also with regards to our relationship with our Father in Heaven, as outlined in 1st John 4 & 5.  More than that, in the gospel of John love is issued as a command by Jesus when engaging those around us; a command not selective in its deployment or audience.  1 Corinthians 13 v 1 – 3 states the following in regards to the value of actions without love:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

What lasting value is anything we do if our hearts are not right? Love lasts!  I say it again, our love is what lasts.  Of all the things we could do our change in the coming year; being resolute in our love for Jesus and from there, our neighbor, I cannot think of a better motive or position to move from that would glorify our God in Heaven while at the same time impacting the world around us as our light shines before men, through more than just words.

In conclusion, a quote from theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758),”The only mark of genuine spiritual maturity and ministry effectiveness is the outworking of agape – a self-giving love for God and others”.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Sliced Bread

Sliced Bread

As a member of my local YM\YWCA for the past 20 years I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people. Considering myself to be an extravert, getting to know people and allowing them to get to know me has come easy.  Being an outgoing person has also had its benefits in regards to evangelism and I’m proud to say that some of my best ministry memories have happened while lifting weights while at the Y.

Being well past the whole look as good and be as strong as I can stage in my life, the Y life has become more about socializing and investing back into the community than anything else. I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations over the years and one that took place recently hasn’t seemed to escape my mind.  It has, on more than one occasion, left me wondering how others see or view me and even more than that, how I am portraying myself or my faith to those around me.

It was during another, not so intense training session, that a gentleman I had known for some time approached me to converse. Knowing that I was a Christian and active in the community, he had asked how things were going and what I had been up to lately.  I shared with him victories seen in the youth ministry I was leading as well as the fundraising event I was co-directing this year to benefit several shelter’s here in the city, one of whom I currently serve as a member of the board.  It was at that point the conversation shifted in a direction I did not expect; one that left me humbled while concerned at the same time.

In wearing my faith on my sleeve so to speak, I’ve had those times where those around me have heaped or wanted to heap praise on me and this was one of those times.  The gentleman seemed eager to state that he always thought I was a great guy and that he wished there were more people like me in the city.  I remember laughing to myself as he was saying it; thinking of a few friends who would immediately object to the thought of a few more fountains of useless knowledge roaming the streets.  But as he spoke, there was something that wasn’t sitting right with me and I tried to object.

Like the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1 v 12 – 13, I knew who I was before I met Christ so like Paul I want to be sure Christ gets all the glory for who I am today.  I tried to state during the conversation that I wasn’t the best thing since sliced bread and that, even with Christ, I still had my flaws and struggles which leave me in need of Christ every day.  Not interested in that, he highlighted the conversation with an aura he said he could see around me.  While my wife may have said it was just gas, I was praying it was the Holy Spirit and from there the conversation ended with a thank you.

Receiving praise is not something I have ever been comfortable with and for good reason.  Like Gandalf, when implored to take the ring of power by Frodo, I have found myself wanting to scream “Don’t tempt me Frodo”.  The temptation to believe one’s own hype, to enjoy your own smell so to speak is real and I can relate.  A closer look at scripture reveals this to be one of the best and most often used tactics of Satan in bringing many a good person down.

Humanity has consistently found itself in trouble when becoming self-reliant or when ignoring or rejecting the creator. Everything from the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11 v 1 – 9) in the Old Testament to King Herod (Acts 12 v 20 – 23) of the New Testament exemplify this for me and prove what is said in Proverbs 1 v 7 and Proverbs 9 v 10, that of “fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom”, to be true.  So, if there is a danger, if it is deadly to misunderstand or misappropriated praise; if the enemy is to use praise as a weapon, what is one to do?  How is or should one respond?  Thankfully scripture highlights some great examples for us to mediate on.

Acts 10, Acts 14, Revelation 19 and 22 all outline times where man and even angels were tempted to receive praise, honor and glory.  In each instance the praise, honor or glory was rejected or better stated, reflected to the one most worthy of it; that being Jesus.  I love Peter’s response to Cornelius’s bowing down before him in Acts 10.  In the verse Peter states:

“Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

Not that I’ve ever had anyone bow before me, I do share Peter’s sentiments in that I, Sean Bosse, would be remembered like every other Christian; as one who worked out his salvation with fear and trembling; Philippians 2 v 12.

In closing I do feel the need to say God can be glorified in our giving and receiving of praise as piety and Godliness is not a matter of self-esteem but more about the boldness we have in Christ alone; we just have to be aware. As Gandalf said to Frodo in responding to why he did not want to take the ring he says that his desire would be for good but through him it would do evil.  I understand this when reflecting on my own failures in the area of my pride.  Paul states it best 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 think of yourself with sober judgment, according to the measure of faith God has given you.

I believe it is in this thought that we can finally and rightly prioritize God, our needs and the needs of others to the betterment of the world we live in. I pray for these eyes and these ears as I pray them for you fellow believer; or non-believer.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Assuming Nothing

Assuming Nothing

Assumption – a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

(Google Translation)

Assumptions! We all make them.  The reality is that we probably make them every day and many times throughout the day without concern.  Fact is, most assumptions made are safe and even necessary when faced with a decision or in looking at a set circumstances.  I for one have always been a proponent of the “Duck Theory” and may have just labeled the phrase here.  But as the saying goes, “if it walks, sounds and looks like a duck, it is probably a duck”; 99.99% of the time.  I’m inclined to say 100% but knowing that there is probably someone or something out there that would prove me wrong, I will allow for a small margin of error.  LOL (Figure that slang out).  Joking aside, there are times where I have made an assumptions, not at all based on fact or a certain level of proof, that have left me humbled and I’m happy to share a few with you below.

The first that comes to mind happens years ago while training at the YMCA.   In conversing with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, I was introduced to his cousin.  Knowing that I was a Christian, he proceeded to share of his cousin’s recent baptism in Christ.  Excited for him and assuming I may be familiar with his church, I asked the obvious question, “Where were you baptized?”  His answer was one word and it still leaves me a bit stunned when thinking about it as I definitely made the wrong assumption.  His answer was, “Renous”.  For those not familiar, Ranous is a maximum security correctional facility located here in New Brunswick from which he had been recently released.  I had to react quickly as that was the only response I had received and looking back, I feel that he was thinking I would look for a way out of the conversation.  But thankfully knowing and being a recipient of the true grace of the gospel of Jesus, that was not going to happen.  What resulted in the end was a time of great encouragement and a lesson learned for me to always be ready to give an account. 1 Peter 3 v 15

The second happened while singing and playing my guitar with a group of brothers and sisters on mission in New York City. It was late at night when some of us had decided to head to Staten Island in the hopes of being a blessing to someone in need through worship.  I laugh when thinking on how the Lord had used us that night as I was a bit nervous about what might happen when we started out.  On a subway heading to the Staten Island Ferry, it wasn’t long before I felt the long stare of what I assumed to be an irritated passenger on verge voicing her displeasure beside me.  In finishing a song and deciding what to sing next she decided to speak and I found out I was wrong again.  Through tears she shared of how she had just come from her mother’s wake and the song we had sung was one that they had sung that night at church and that the music was healing to her heart.  In that moment we realized how great our God was as we continued to worship with her for the rest of the ride.

Thinking there were no more lessons to learn, we proceeded to do the same on the ferry that night while overlooking lady liberty herself. Before we knew it we had several children from a Muslim family dancing in front of us while an African immigrant who, wearing a medal given by her church in celebration of her loving heart, danced and sang in the room behind us.  By the end of the ride she was with us along with a small crowd that made for a night that I will never forget.

One would think I would be done assuming when it comes to Christ but I’m still learning my lessons; lessons those of bible times had to learn and lessons that the body of Christ would do well to learn if we are to avoid the pitfalls and missed opportunities before us today. With the truth of scripture to bring context to the issue, Moses states the following in Deuteronomy 30 v 11 – 14 when considering God’s word and our ability to live a life that reflects it:

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

In the scriptures above we hear Moses addressing an issue he knew would come up while at the same time stating the facts regarding that line of thinking. With this being  a struggle for some today,  below are other examples of assumptions often made and the truth of scripture to counter the them, providing a clearer current state reality while at the same time giving reason for hope:

  • All roads lead to God (Universalism) – John 10 v 9 & 14 v 6; Acts 14 v 12; 1 Timothy 2 v 5
  • Unforgivable Sins – Romans 8 v 38 – 39; Mark 3 v 29; Matthew 12 v 31 – 32
  • I believe in God; I know God – James 2 v 19; Matthew 7 v 21 – 23
  • I’m a good personRomans 3 v 9 – 20
  • Some people don’t deserve salvation – Jonah 4 v 1 -3
  • Made right by works – Matthew 23 v 16 – 19; Psalm 51 v 10 & 16-17; Hosea 6 v 6; 1 Samuel 15 v 22
  • Hell is the world we live in or not real – Revelation 21 v 8; Psalm 9 v 17; Proverbs 15 v 24; 2 Peter 2 v 4
  • It’s too late for me; I’m not savable – John 3 v 16; Luke 23 v 39 – 43; Matthew 13 v 15

In closing, I do want to reiterate that many of the assumptions made are safe to make. Scripture speaks to our ability to make common sense judgments in Proverbs 2.  But, when the waters are murky or our only source for reference is ourselves, it is always best to avoid the assumption definition and to operate in fact and truth; the foundation of God and his Word.  The beauty of it is….it is God who gives it to us as I restate a scripture from Deuteronomy, “No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Stain Remover

Stain Remover

Everyone has pet peeves and with almost 14 years in as a parent, I can say my wife and I have more than a few now. Being a bit of a clean freak I have been known to follow my kids, and anyone I deem prone to making a mess, around my house with my vacuum in toe.  I am proud to say that I’m doing much better in this regard; although I’m sure there are some who would debate me on that.  Never the less, with 2 growing kids, we are certainly kept hopping.

There never seems to be a lack of things around the house to clean and one constant over the year has been laundry. Dealing with laundry has kind of become like a climbers dream.  Everywhere we look there’s always a mountain to summit.  We’re always on expedition and just when we get to the top of one mountain, another is waiting just over the horizon.  Whites, colors, darks; every mountain is built to be unique and failing to summit the mountain correctly, you’re likely to have an avalanche of problems.

Of all the frustrating problems one can encounter when doing laundry is that of trying to get stains out the clothes. We’ve learned quickly that grass, grease and mud are the toughest to get out.  No matter how many times we try to warn our kids, they still seem to shorten the shelf life of their clothes long before they are due.  We couldn’t tell you how many times they’ve put on a new shirt or a new pair pants only to come home with them ruined.  Despite our best effort, despite the best stain remover, most often the only thing that seems to come out is the color and I lament.

I know one day I’ll look back on this and laugh. I’ll laugh even harder when our kids grow up to go through the same thing and ask us, “Were we like this?  Did we do that?” and we’ll happily say yes.  Many years away from that moment and with Easter just around the corner, I find myself thinking about a different kind of stain; that of my sin and the sinful nature.

Like a stain that won’t come out, the stain of our sin can be just as stubborn and just as visible. A great analogy for this is found in Jeremiah 2 v 22 where it says:

“Although you wash yourself with lye And use much soap, The stain of your iniquity is before Me,” declares the Lord GOD.

In saying this truth through the prophet to the people, God was confronting them with a reality that confronts me and should confront you today. Making things right or cleaning the slate clean as some might say is not something we can do on our own.  A truth clearly missed by those of Jesus’s day and evidenced in the holiday we as believers are about to celebrate.

In saying the above I do realize there to be some who would surely like to challenge what I’m saying. After all, the Israelites of the Old Testament had the law; they had customs to follow and celebrations to have and remember.  But in acknowledging those things to be valid, one must go deeper in an effort to understand why those things were necessary and from there look at the resulting outcomes.

From a why perspective it is all about roles and relationship. That those doing the things required of them would be doing them out of joy and sheer awe of who God is and who they are in his eyes.  From that positon one is operating from the heart instead of out of compulsion.  We see all through scriptures those who lived life from this position and what God produces in and through them. The result is beautifully worded in Ezekiel 36 v 26 when it says:

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Sadly, this exchange was missed by many in Jesus’s day as is the same for many in our day. Jesus constantly found himself confronted by those who felt he should be living life there way.  In response he took a common sense approach.  Often asking, even challenging them to look at what he was doing and from there to be practical in understanding and applying meaning.  As an example I refer to a healing Jesus had done on the Sabbath, a time when no one was to do any work.  Their zeal for the law and there way of life had blinded them and Jesus has to ask the following in Mark 3 v 4:

And He asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” But they were silent.

As another example, see Paul’s appeal to King Agrippa found in Acts 26.

The line between what and why can be so thin. In focusing our attention on what we do, losing sight or even forgetting why we do it can happen.  As a Christian, I always try to remind myself that it is in Christ alone that I am saved, made new and made right.  The church in Ephesus had to be reminded of this Revelation 2 in that they had forgotten there first love. I pray for a reminder from him or his messenger should I ever forget and pray the same for you.

In bringing this to a close it is my prayer that you, if not a Christian, would consider the cross. That as the Easter season falls on you, that you would fall on Christ.  You will be broken as stated in Matthew 21 v 44, but in that brokenness, allow his grace to do what only it can do in removing the stain to make you new. That the great exchange would be made in your life; resulting in your, receiving a new heart.

For the believer, should a reminder be needed, I pray it is received and received with gladness. And for this Easter that we as one voice would echo words heard of those in heaven in saying:

Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

God Bless – Sean Bosse