Tag: Forgiven

Heart Disease

Heart Disease

The human body is a truly remarkable thing.  In all of creation, there is nothing like it in appearance and complexity.  Thinking on that I would have to say, of all the parts that make up our body one of the most, if not the most unique and complex part would have to be the heart.  From an appearance perspective, it has been described in science as elegant.  Regarding complexity, incomprehensible.  It is a part that is felt and heard, not seen and to have this out of order would leave one absent of life.  Matter of fact, in serving its purpose the heart brings life to all other parts of the body, warranting our understanding and protection.

As is the case with most complex things, the slightest change or imperfection is often enough to cause damage and with the heart, it is no different.  Everything from smoking, to high blood pressure; from an unhealthy diet, to a lack of exercise; all have been proven causes that disease the heart resulting in what is now known as the silent killer, “Heart Disease”.  But, in all I’ve learned about this illness and its causes, there was a cause that stood out, if not shocked me; that of unresolved anger and its impact on the body.

In his book “Deadly Emotions”, author Dr. Don Colbert said that he could tell kind of life a person lived the second he opened their chest and looked at their heart.  He describes in detail how the arteries leading in and out of one’s heart would tell the story.  Arteries that draped over his finger like a wet noodle spoke of a person whose life was full of love and joy.  Those arteries that stood over his finger like a led pipe often spoke of a life full of anger and bitterness.  He stated that it wasn’t the anger that was the issue for the heart, as anger is a God given human emotion.  It was the chemicals anger produces in one’s body that put us in harm’s way.  For the person with unaddressed, unchecked anger, long term exposure to chemicals like stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline can have a disastrous effect on the body and specifically the heart.  This is what is going on inside our body but there are other affects that are worth addressing also.

Anger has its affect outside of the body.  I’m sure you all can relate to something said or done in a moment of anger that has had a long-term effect; I know I have mine and many a jail cell is full of those whose anger got the best of them.  Anger also has its effect on our spiritual heart.  Scripture speaks of this heart in Psalm 73 v 26 in saying:

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

In this is the distinction between the physical and spiritual heart; the temporary and the eternal.  For those whose anger has diseased their spiritual heart, depression reigns along with  the deadly statistics that go with it.  So, if anger is an emotion given to us by God, it should be understood as good, that it has value and purpose for our life.  But, if exposure to it produces deadly effects on the scene and unseen areas of our lives, where is the balance?  How do we check it and what should we do with it?  Thankfully in Jesus we find answers to these important questions.

The first thing about anger is to remember what I had stated earlier in this write up; that anger is a God given emotion and that means there is a purpose for good.  To salt this with God’s truth I refer to the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4 v 26 – 27:

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Are you hearing that reader?  Sometimes I read it and do a double take should my eyes deceive me.  Paul does say, “Be Angry”.  It’s OK to be angry.  It’s OK to be angry when we see injustice in the world; when we see bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  The great king Solomon laments on this reality in Ecclesiastes 8:14. The key for us is what we are going to do with the anger.  Ephesians 4 v 26 states that we can’t let it lead us to sin; we must let it go.  As Ephesians 4 v 27 states, holding it; holding onto the anger gives the devil a foot hold and where the devil is, death is there or not far behind.

Maybe your reading this and thinking you can’t relate.  Maybe you’ve never struggled with anger like I and so many others have.  If that is you I say hallelujah, praise the Lord.  But, one thing I’ve learned about anger over the years is that is can be sneaky.  It is deceptive; it likes to surprise you and catch you when you least expect it.  Because it behaves like this, we must always be on our guard.  We must, as Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4 v 23:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

We must protect our hearts from allowing anger to find rest because just like the blood in our physical heart, anger will flow out of our spiritual heart.  How do we protect our hearts from allowing this to happen?  Well, the answer might just shock you.

In the world of IT, the process of securing is affectionately known as hardening.  If you want to protect a system or network from viruses, if you want to secure or lock it down, you must harden it and when it comes to our heart, it is shockingly no different.  I say shockingly as scripture refers to a hardened heart as bad thing, like the pipe arteries of a person who held on to hate and anger for too long.  But that is not what I’m referring to here.  In this case I’m talking about how we as Christian’s protect our hearts from those things that would disease it.  If antivirus software and firewalls are tools that can harden a system or network, what are the tools that can harden a heart?  God provides the answer in his letter to the Galatians; an answer I have referred to many a times in my life.

Galatians 5 v 22 – 23 refers to the fruit the Spirit of Jesus Christ produces in the life of a believer.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  The end of verse 23 states that “Against such things there is no law.”  There is absolutely nothing that can penetrate and disease a heart that is full of this fruit.  Unlike the IT world, in Christ, 100% security is achievable.  But, should you like to layer your security, one thing I would recommend adding would be forgiveness. This is often the main reason anger out stays its welcome.  Jesus’s sacrifice has revealed the ultimate power of forgiveness to save; it is just a matter of one’s willingness to give it or to seek it.  I can testify that His forgiveness has changed my life and continues to do so.

As I close this out, I can help but think of those in need of a new heart.  You’ve been wanting to let go of your anger; you’ve held on so long.  Turn to Jesus, confess your sin in this anger; profess your need for Him.  Receive his forgiveness and the new eternally healthy heart that comes with it and then give it away to anyone in need.  I will be praying for you reader; whoever you are, wherever you may be and ask that you pray for me too.  We will celebrate together in eternity one day with the One who made it all possible.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

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The Heavy

The Heavy

There are times when nothing seems to beat the nostalgia of a great movie.  The ability to escape our present reality and circumstances to assume one that we know not to be true has often been a source of comfort to many, even if only for a short time.  This can be a serious negative for some but that is for another message.   I love going to the movies and even more than that, can watch movies I have enjoyed repeatedly; to the dismay of my wife and admit it does strike me funny every time she discovers me watching a movie I have seen to many times to count.  I guess the simple mind truly is a complex one and she would be quick to inform you of the possessor of that said mind.

A favorite of mine over the years is a 3-part trilogy called “Back to the Future”.  For those not familiar, it tells the story of a boy named Marty McFly and his quirky, older scientist friend Doc Martin, who discovers the secret to time travel.  Incorporating the technology into a DeLorean (DMC-12), they travel back and forth in time to correct the mistakes that plague Marty’s life and family.  During the first movie Marty is taken back to the 50’s where he encounters several issues, that if not addressed, could alter his future permanently.

When realizing the gravity of certain situations, he often uses the term “Heavy” as a way of bringing perspective to the issue.  Not understanding the term, the 50’s version of his scientist friend assumes there to be an issue with the earth’s gravitational pull.  Thankfully there wasn’t as this was just a term of expression but, the reality for us is that there are many times we face circumstances that when fully realized, shake the very foundations of our world.  It is those times where the weight sets in, leaving one scrambling for hope were it not for Christ.  To bring context to the discussion I turn to God and the real-life examples found in his word.

In the book of Jonah, we read of a very real and wicked place called Nineveh.  There about face rebellion was spurring Him to act.  One would assume His first act to be judgment but, as we read, this is not so.  In true form God displays his character though a posture of grace and it is this grace, communicated through his prophet, that leads to another about face for the people of Nineveh; one that turns them back to God.  Jonah 3 v 4 – 6 and 10 state the following:

“Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.  When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.”

“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”

We see a similar situation played out with the Israelites in the book of Acts – chapter 2.  Here Peter boldly proclaims the implications of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection, establishing Him as Lord and Messiah of all.  They are broken when the weight of their role in the first two steps settles in.  There despair is laid out for us to see in Acts 2 v 37:

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” “

Again, the hope or the out so to speak, is found in only what God can do and has done through Jesus.  In Acts 2 v 38 we read of what us Christians call the “Great Exchange”:

“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.””

If being honest, I’m sure we would all admit to moments of “I would give anything to undo or unsay that!”; I know I have mine.  It is often those moments that lead us into spiritual crisis, also known as the dark nights of the soul.  Were it not for the gospel of Christ, I certainly despair at the thought of where I might be.  But, and it is a big but, it is because of his gospel and the saving grace found in it that my life finds it purpose and its motivation; a new life available to you also.

I can’t help but wonder as I write this, how many out there, how many of you might be experiencing a dark night in your soul; a consequence brought out of action or circumstance.  Maybe your reading this or other writings I have done wondering why or where it comes from.  Well, I’m here to say that the light of Christ has lighten many a dark time in my life, leaving me with only one response; that of Romans 10 v 14 – 15:

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

In his book, “Jesus Among Other Gods”, Ravi Zacharias shares the story of Sir Isaac Newton, his beloved dog and a time when he was hard at work in his efforts to unlock the mysteries of the universe.  Comforted by the candle that lit the room and his dog at his side, he put his work to paper; or in that time parchment.  Taking what I believe to be a break, he gets up to leave the room.  His dog wanting to be where his master is gets up to go with him but inadvertently bumps the table with the candle on it, setting all his work ablaze.  When Newton returns to discover what happened, he is dissolved to tears.  Knowing his dog could never understand the gravity of what he has done, he simply strokes the dog saying, “You will never, never know what you have done.”  Thankfully our loving Father, even when we fail to understand, knows the gravity of our situation and in love, restores what we have broken in his Son Jesus Christ.

Friends, I close with the words of our Savior found in John 16 v 33:

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Near Sighted

Near Sighted

During a message I had given recently to a group of young people on the topic of evil, I had asked them to provide examples of what they had considered to be evil in the world today.  After a time of reflection combined with some encouragement, the answers started to flow and not surprisingly the majority of the answers were of an outward focus.  Everything from ISIS to Social Media was provided; with the context of evil easily identified.

Given the chance, I’m sure we would all have our stories of evil seen, heard or even experienced to tell.  And while all examples provided might well be rightly understood as evil, it is the outward only focus that is of concern if that is our only point of reference.  A contention expressed by Jesus to the religious leaders of his day and a great problem for us if we are not careful to learn the lesson.  Jesus states the following in Luke 18 v 10 -13:

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like the other men—swindlers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and pay tithes of all that I receive.’
But the tax collector stood at a distance, unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven. Instead, he beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’”

In the parable above, Jesus speaks of two individuals and the prayers they lift when considering where they stand with God.   The first are those of a religious leader who, rather than seeking to identify the faults in his own heart that require repentance, chooses to elevate himself above those he deems truly sinful.  The second is of an individual who, when thinking of who he is and what he has done, cannot even bring himself to come forward; sentiments echoed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12 v 3:

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Sadly for me, I can say that I at times can relate to the thoughts of the Pharisee more than I wish to admit.  There have been times where I, in pride, have compared myself to others and therein lies the danger.  Evil is singular in its origin; starting with the individual.  Even for those contributing to the cause of what many would consider to be evil, the seed that grows and leads to participation always starts with the individual person.  James 1 v 14 – 15 provides a great description of the origins of sin and its result when stating:

“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Our ability to accept our sinful state, as the tax collector rightly did, is the first step towards justification in God’s sight.  If the law has ever served a purpose in my life it has been to remind me of the where, when and how I have gone wrong.  But even more than that I am eternally grateful to my Father in Heaven for showing me the why in my failings.  In quoting several of the Psalms of the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul brings a wake-up call to those seeking to exalt themselves over others; both individually as well as globally.  He states the following in Romans 3 v 9 & 22 – 23:

“What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin”

“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

In his book “Jesus Among Other Gods”, Ravi Zacharias shares the story of a conversation he once had with a businessman who continually came back to the question of all the evil in the world.  A friend sitting next Ravi responded with the following, “I hear you constantly expressing a desire to see a solution to the problem of evil around.  Are you as troubled by the problem of evil in you?”  In the pin drop silence that followed, as Ravi puts it, the man’s face showed his duplicity.  For me I have always loved the saying that the foot of the cross is level ground.  In realizing that God does not play favorites when it comes to his grace, we are in a far better position to help our fellow man.  Failing to prioritize His grace can, in the end, be the very thing that fertilizes the soil of pride in one’s life.  Luke 7 v 47 rightly states,he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Closing out, I refer to two common visual impairments diagnosed during an eye exam.  The first is that of being diagnosed as far sighted.  To the person receiving this diagnosis it would be understood that they’re ability to see at distance would be better than those things they see up close.   The opposite is true for those who are diagnosed as near sighted in that they’re ability to see things up close is better when compared to those things seen at a distance.  Not that I would ever ask for any type of visual impairment but when it comes the vision of my spirit I do pray that I would always be near sighted.  That I would always be able to see those areas in my own life, those things up close that I need to be aware of or even repent of, if I am to be the agent of change the Lord would desire me to be.  I pray the same for you as I echo Psalm 139 v 23 – 24:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me;
And lead me in the everlasting way.”

God Bless – Sean Bosse

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