Tag: Grace

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

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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

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