Tag: faith

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

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

Look Alike

Look Alike

The 2016 school year will see my son start his last year of primary school, or for what we old folk remember as elementary school. Yes, I know it is only July and I shouldn’t even be thinking of school at this time but I can’t help myself; time is just moving too fast.  When complete, our daughter will be on her way to high school and our son to middle school.  This means that Mitchell will be the last of our children to go through the primary grades and will be the end of our experience as parents at this level.  As usual, I find myself in a reflective frame of mind.  Thinking of the joys, victories, trials and friends both have made as they progressed through those years has me feeling blessed as both Christa and I are so proud of them.  Thinking about the primary experience for our kids also has me remembering my own experiences in elementary school.  Of all the memories one thing stands out and is the parallel for my message.

For those who may not know, I have a twin brother and it was grade 2 where we found ourselves in a new school and more than that, in a class with two other sets of twins. As if twins were not rare enough, we were in a class that now boasted 3 sets; a nightmare for the best of teachers I’m sure.  Sean and Scott, Penny and Jenny, Mark and (I forget his brother’s name) in one class room.  From what I remember our teacher acclimated well as there were really only 2 sets of twins in the room according to our classmates.  My brother and I are what they refer to as fraternal twins as we look nothing alike.  With the other twins in the class being identical, our classmates took every opportunity afforded to question my brother and I’s relation; whether we were really brothers at all.  This is where the fun began for them and the trouble incurred for me.

It wasn’t too long into the year before I came home with a question that needed answering. Our classmates had stated their case, identical twins included, and my seven year old mind was convinced that baby switching was real and that this was the case for fraternal twins.  The question to my mother the first time was as follows, “Mom, is Scott my real brother?” and then I would explain my classmate’s logic.  The first time I questioned her on this she compassionately assured me that he was my brother and that they were just teasing me.  After approaching the subject with her a few more times over the course of the year, each time more seriously than the last, my mom’s patience reached its limit.  At the threat of severe discipline I quickly learned and accepted there was a difference; that fraternal and identical twins did exist.

The twin conundrum resolved, there still is the issue of looks that needs addressing. Even with limited exposure to the western culture one could quickly come to the conclusion that a particular look would be needed if one was to make it.  Advertising has cornered this market to perfection it seems with many, young people in particular, pursuing an image or ideal not at all healthy and stands in contrast to our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.  The suicide rates seen in our young people today speak to this.  The above stated though, the reality is that we all do look like someone or something and if this is the case, it leaves me with the lingering questions of who or what should we look like?  Is there an image we should be striving for as we live out our days here on God’s earth?  With great encouragement I proclaim the answer to be yes and that it is found in the word of our creator which makes sense.  After all, where would the creation turn but to the creator with questions of origin.

The issue of image is handled in scripture on two layers; one being physical and the other spiritual. As the truth soaks in, I find myself agreeing with what Andrei Agassi use to say in that, “Image Is Everything”.  One thing is clear though when it comes to the image layers addressed, one is important while the other is vital.  Genesis 1 v 26 states the following as it relates to the physical image:

“Then God Said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our Likeness;”

Hebrews 2 v 6 – 7, 9 & 11 state the following regarding Jesus, his purpose and our relation to him:

“But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor”
“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” “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.”

We are made in the image of our creator! We look like him and though looks can often describe an individual, what incurs the most labels are our actions.

Actions are used most often to describe an individual, whether for the good or bad. Luke 6 v 45, Matthew 15 v 18, James 2 v 18 state:

“The good man brings food things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things our of the evil treasure of his heart.  For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man.”
“But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”

As it relates to image I feel God imploring us to emphasize the spiritual, the internal, as our priority. All through the word as well as history testify that youth is fleeting as we will all taste physical death.  There is an eternal life or death situation that we will all face and it will be our actions that determine the outcome; an outcome of judgment that can be avoided in the grace found through Christ.

To me, one of the most powerful pleas Jesus’s makes is in relation to his actions and how they should be interpreted when considering who he is can be found in the book of John: 10 v 37 – 38.  In dealing with the religious leaders of his day, those you assume would recognize Jesus as the Messiah immediately, as well as those of the region he states:

“If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me. But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works themselves, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

Jesus implored those of yesteryear as he implores us today to look at his message and more than that, his body of work to see if they line up and then to make a decision. From there, our actions will identify us and from there judgment.  For reference, I would encourage you to review Revelation 20 – 23.

To close I refer to the word doppelganger which is defined as an apparition or double of a living person. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me they had just seen my double somewhere or someplace.  I often smile and state something to the effect that God must have liked the template.  I can’t help but laugh when this happens as I really do have a twin but we don’t look much alike.  In saying that though, there is someone I do want to look like.  His name is Jesus and he is my savior, whose love in action paved the way to my salvation.  It is my heart’s desire to look as much like him as I can and not so much in physical sense but in the spiritual heart sense.  That what might be said of me would be similar to what God said of an Old Testament king named David in 1 Samuel 13 and referred to again in Acts 13.  Oh that moment when someone sees me and the things I do and says, “Sean, you look a lot like someone I know.  His name is Jesus.” and I pray that for you, whoever you may be.  As I say to my kids every day in modeling Jesus, “Thought, Word and Deed”.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Indiscriminate Grace

Indiscriminate Grace

It was the end of another busy day when I received a call from a close friend who lived on the other side of the country. Unable to answer the call, I made it a point to get back to him when I had time.  Then he called again and followed that up with a call to my cell.  Sensing the urgency, as well as my wife telling me that his fiancé had sent us a message indicating they had received bad news, I raced up stairs to give him a call.  When I was able to reach him, I could tell something was up and that is when he proceeded to inform me that he had been diagnosed to colon cancer.

With my heart in my feet, my reaction was similar to most who receive news of this sort, that of disbelief. As I gathered myself and tried to string a thought together my friend, who is really more like a brother, proceeded to tell me of the circumstances that led to the diagnosis.  A part of the story that struck me was of his family doctors initial passive response to his concerns when first brought to his attention; a story heard all too often in young people.  Saving that rant for another day, we were left with the reality that there truly is no prejudice with cancer.  It does not discriminate.

Under normal circumstances a lack of prejudice or discrimination in society would be cause for celebration. But when it comes to cancer that is never the case.  I have seen and heard of this disease, synonymous with pain and death, bring the strongest to their knees.  Were that the end of the story I would surely despair.  But as seen with cancer, the lack of discrimination, this perceived habitual lack of prejudice is also found in the grace of our God in Christ.  The only deference being that of the consistency in its application; a truth the Apostle Peter experienced to the full during an encounter with a Roman Centurion named Cornelius and a large crowd he brought together.  The detailed encounter is found in Acts chapter 10.

In an effort to give context to the story, it should be known that Cornelius, his family and associates were known as gentiles.  To be known or referred to as a gentile would mean to identify someone as not Jewish.  For Peter, being a Jew, to associate with a gentile would go against his religious beliefs and its customs.  For him to do this, to put himself in conflict with his people, would have required something of a miraculous nature and that is exactly what happened.

The chapter starts out will Cornelius being recognized by God through a vision for his piety and the way he cared for the poor; not something normally said of a Roman Centurion back in the day. He is told to send for a man named Peter who will bring a message of good news.  At the same time, Peter is having a vision of different types of food, known to be avoided by the Jews, placed before him to eat.  Peter promptly refuses to eat that deemed unclean which leads to the following response found in Acts 10 v 15:

“The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.””

After a bit more back and forth the food is taken and before long he is on his way to Cornelius’s house.

Upon arriving, Cornelius falls before Peter’s feet as if he were royalty. Peter’s response grips me to this day while keeping me humble at the same time.  In Act 10 v 26 we read:

“But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.””

Peter never loses sight of who he is in light of who his creator is; something I feel we as a North American society could learn from.

Knowing the position Peter finds himself in, he states the following in verse 28:

“He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”

Again, never losing sight of his position in light of the Creator. So, forget identifying the elephant in the room right out of the gate.  He slays the thing and from there they share the events resulting in there coming together.

In answering the call of the evangelist; a call given to all who call on Christ or identify themselves as a Christian, Peter understands the purpose of the meeting and proceeds to minister the gospel of grace in Christ which is welcomed by the large crowd in attendance. As he delivers his message and fulfills his purpose, the Holy Spirit is poured out on all present and he bears witness to its power.  In awe Peter confesses that which was the case from the beginning but had been lost; that the grace of Christ is and has always been for everyone who believes.  Peter’s confession is heard in verse 47 of Acts 10:

“Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

Mission accomplished as the family grew and all were baptized.

This lack of discrimination needs to be understood in the faith today if we are to disperse the gospel in a way that is in line with the biblical narrative. We have our model in Jesus.  Being selective is to not be Christian; a truth the Apostle Paul was sure to avoid.  He knew the gospel was for everyone as he, the self-described worst of the sinners, was saved.  When the Jews of Acts 13 rejected it, he told them plainly that he was taking it to the Gentiles and for those whose hearts responded, as stated in Acts 11, were simply called Christians. This has not changed for us today.  Nor will it change for those of tomorrow.  We are called and to be called Christians.

Whether it was Jesus running towards the leper or the demon possessed when everyone else was running the other way; whether it was Jesus or the Apostles heading to their death; the gospel, its scope and power, were always at the forefront. Regardless of what life may bring; regardless of who we may encounter; that we, like Paul, would always be able to say:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8 v 38 – 39

I pray this to be the lens with which we view the world and hence become a change agent for Christ for its benefit.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Fighters

Fighters

As a kid I wasn’t much of a fighter. Looking back, I’m not that hard on myself as I grew up in an area and went to a school known for its tougher characters.  It never seemed to fail either that those seeking to fight me were always bigger, older or just plain tougher than I was and I was never one for taking a beating for the sake of taking a beating.  As I grew into my teen years I signed up for martial arts at the local YMCA and by the time I got into grade 8, the odds started to even out.  Over time I even grew found of fighting but not in the sense one might think.

Fighting is a part of our makeup and that is something I feel was intentional on the part of our Creator. Craig Groeschel in his book “Fight” says we as men are willing to fight “Because that’s is how we are wired”.  I’d be inclined to agree and say it’s a guy thing were it not for the few women I know who would welcome a fight just for the fun of it.  Everything from illness to injustice has us either in a fight or encouraging others to fight in the face of trying circumstances.  I feel it to be a part of who we are in that it is something we are meant to do or even called to do when the circumstance warrants it.  I look no further than the truth of scripture as my source of reference.

All through both the Old and New Testaments we see and learn of battles in both the physical and spiritual realms. With Jesus’s victory on the cross, the physical battles are for the most part, over.  As Christians we are known and should be known for our love; how we show it (John 13 v 35), for peacemaking (Matthew 5 v 9) and for serving (James 2 v 18).  That said the spiritual battle is far from over and we need to participate.  If your parenting is similar to mine, you are raising our children to not fight.  We teach them to reason and to seek help where needed.  But as was the case in World War II, in the face of an enemy bent on destruction, the call to arms is necessary and I point to 4 keys found in God’s word that will lead us in the fight.

The first key is to know who or what we are fighting and what his tactics will be. 1 Peter 5 v 8 and Ephesians 6 v 11 – 12 outline who the enemy is in stating:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil (Satan) prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The enemy is revealed and as far as his tactics go, it is a game of deception.  The scriptures warn over and over that we are to be careful that we are not deceived.  John 8 v 44 states:

“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

There is no mystery or global game of clue leaving one wondering whose behind it all.  The scriptures are clear.

The second key is one of preparation. What training will we need and what are we to fight with?  1 Timothy 4 v 7 indicates that we should be trained up in godliness.  This is seen in the person who prays, loves, serves and has a deep knowledge of scripture while at the same time equipped with the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6 v 14 – 17:

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

This, more than anything, shows that we all have a role to play.

The 3rd key is where the battle is taking place.  As a Christian I’ve grown to know that when the Lord has your heart, your hands and feet will follow.  When Satan has your mind, your hands and feet will follow.  A relationship with God is not one of head knowledge but that of his reign in our hearts.  Even though the battle is against the evils of this dark world and in the heavenly realms, it starts with the mind, as that is what Satan attacks.

1 Peter 1 v 13 speaks of a mind ready for action, ready for the attack that looks something like what is illustrated in James 1 v 14 – 16:

“But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”

Many a song has been sung about that which was so wrong but felt so right.  It effects the entirety of our flesh and our success can feel much like a pendulum.  We have every reason to have hope and I refer you to the Apostle Paul’s description of the struggle found in Ephesians 5 v 16 – 26 & the entire chapter of Romans 8.

The fourth, final and most important key is that of what it’s all about; what we are fighting for. This is not a complicated issue.  The salvation of our souls is at stake.  Jesus sanctifies, justifies and makes us right before God.  He is the way and while still here guides us in the fight by the power of his Spirit in us.  I love how James 5 v 19 – 20 describes the victory we have in Christ when it states:

“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

It is about salvation from an eternal death.  Eternally separated from the love and presence of our Father; our Creator.

To close, I feel the need to state, even to implore you to take the battle for the souls, maybe yours in particular, seriously. 2 Peter 3 v 9 says that God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Jonathan Cahn states in his book “The Mystery of the Shemitah” that, “The sound of an alarm cannot, by nature, be pleasant.  It can’t be.  Otherwise it wouldn’t serve its purpose to awaken and to warn.”

We are warned and the worst mistake we can make is to underestimate our enemy. Yeshua is the Hebrew word for Jesus and translated means safety.  I pray that all would hear and heed the warning.  That we would be ready and willing to fight knowing that we are forever safe in Jesus.

God Bless – Sean Bosse