Tag: Jesus Saves

A Good Student

A Good Student

Of all the things I would have been known for growing up, being a good student was most certainly not one of them.  In thinking about why, I can’t honestly come up with an answer to explain it.  If asked, I’m sure most of my teachers would say that I just didn’t try but to me that still doesn’t explain it.  I could certainly come up with excuses but I’m sure they would only point the finger at someone else instead of myself, where the responsibility really rests.

All through my middle and high school years my mother would continually remind me that I would regret not doing better and as most moms usually are, she was right.  I will remind her that I did pass every grade but for many, it was by the skin of my teeth; a fact highlighted by a stint of summer school I endured to get through my grade 10 year.  But in the end, her words rang true the day I graduated and even more so when I started University as I was not at all ready.

My university career didn’t last a year and nobody, including myself, was surprised.  I knew the importance of an education but had chosen the hard road and it cost me in the short term; as it often does for others.  Everything from education to employment, parenting to marriage, so often the reality is that many are not ready; not ready to take on the roles and responsibilities either placed in front of them or as a result of their actions.  Truth is that we handicap ourselves in our lack of preparation and examples are always readily available.

The Christian faith has never been immune to this problem and this issue of readiness, or lack thereof, is one always to be dealt with head on.  For the person seeking encouragement, it can often be found in the witness of others.  A great example for me is found in an encounter Paul has with Peter regarding something Peter should have done or at least been ready to do.  But, as is the case with fear, it can compel a response in one person and the exact opposite in another.

Galatians 2 v 11 – 13 outlines a time where both Peter and Paul found themselves in a place called Antioch.  When Peter arrived he would eat with Gentile, uncircumcised believers.  In laymen’s terms, this is referring to people who were not Jewish.  But when friends of James showed up, who insisted on circumcision as necessary to the faith, he would no longer eat with them.  Fear had crept in resulting in action and as is the case with actions, they often influence others.  In Peter’s case, there was no exception as many believers, including Barnabas followed his lead.  Paul, recognizing the problem responds with the following in verses 14:

“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?””

Only from a position of readiness was Paul able to act and from there, effectively ministered the truth to the betterment of all around him.

In trying to understand what it takes or what it looks like to be ready I’m fearful some would want to respond by quoting Jesus from a verse found in three of the Gospels where He was speaking to his Disciples.  In the interest of this write up I will go with the account found in Luke 12 v 11 – 12 where Jesus states:

“When you are brought before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say.  For at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say.”

On the surface, the verse appears cut and dry.  The Lord of all creation is providing us with another road and an easy one at that.  And, being honest, who wouldn’t want the easier road anyway? But believing this to be reality would be to wrongly interpret the scripture.  What is the danger in doing that?  Misinterpretation always leads to incorrect application.  For the person, whose desired position is one of readiness, it will require investment and relationship resulting in the clarity needed to minister the word.

In the case of Jesus’s words found in Luke one would be wise to understand the context of both the people and the times.  The audience in question had hearts to know and be filled with his word, both at present and historically from the Old Testament.  For to them, to be filled with the Word was to be filled with true life, the life of Christ and for reference, see John 1 v 1 and v 14.  They also had the desire to be in community with the Father, by Him, through the Spirit resulting in a strong prayer life.  It is from this position that the truth of the scripture rings true and the fear, the worry Jesus refers to, is replaced with eyes that see and ears that hear, allowing us to respond in correspondence with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

To close I can thankfully say it wasn’t long after I had left university that God drew me to himself and saw fit to educate me both secularly and in my spirit.  My mother’s warning had been supplanted by Jesus’s call to repentance and new life.  A call that, decades later, continues prepare me and those God puts in my path while knowing and living in the truth of Psalm 119 v 105 which states:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”

I pray this to always be the case for myself and my family as Disciples of the King and pray this to be the case for you as well; both in the world today and the one to come where we will all meet Jesus face to face.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

 

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Wake Up O Sleeper

Wake Up O Sleeper

It was very late at night that I, at 7 or 8 years old, found myself standing in the hallway of the apartment building my family lived in.  Disoriented, confused and scared to death, I tried to get my bearings which was not easy.  But, thanks to my mom, it was not long before I realized where I was and how I got there.

If you have hadn’t guessed, I was sleeping walking and it was another one of the many times my mom had come to my rescue.  My mom is always quick to remind me that she was far more afraid than I was, with me getting through a locked door and half way down the hall.  But, whether I was found under a table or in a closet; using our tub or the nearest flower pot as a urinal, my mom was always there to wake me up, comfort and get me back where I was supposed to be.

When I reflect on this, it really can sound like a parallel in life.  One minute you wake up, dazed and confused, wondering what happened to your life and how you got there.  The same can be said for us as a society, leaving us asking questions like:

How did we get here?

How did it get to this point?

It is at that point where we are in most need of a wakeup call.  To continue sleep walking through life would be dangerous, if not deadly; especially considering the times.

The apostle Paul shares this reflection with the people of Ephesus in Ephesians 5 v 13 – 16:

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

I always remember how mom would handle the situation when she found me sleep walking.  Despite my screams, followed by a good cry, she would be quick to let me know she was with me, where I was and what had happened.  Sometimes she would be scared herself but often laughed while comforting me.  In comforting me, she always reminded me of the truth of my circumstances and back to safety I went.

God’s word also calls us to wake up; to understand our times and how we live in them.  He also salts his words with comfort and great encouragement.  Knowing that there is nowhere we could go that God could not find us; Psalm 139 v 7 – 12; when he finds us, despite our cries and fears, when he wakes us and we walk in the light, we can be sure that Christ will shine on us.

One of my favorite verses’ God has placed on my life as a tool to enable me to overcome and shine has been Romans 12 v 2:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

That verse is the key to waking up from the slumber or hibernation the enemy of the world would be happy to see us continue in.

What does a renewed mind of a Christ woken sleeper looks like?  Philippians 4 v 8 is the answer,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Let us wake up and be found in Christ as we come to another season of harvest.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Starting From The Beginning

Starting From The Beginning

With two children, ages of 14 and 10; and 21 years of youth ministry now under my belt, I have been to more birthday parties and youth events than I can remember. In all those parties and events, my mind often goes to the time when the food and cake were brought out.  I can already hear the hecklers saying, “No surprise there Sean”.  Parties and events where pizza was the main course are of particular interest to me.  Wanting to be a gentleman, most times, I would wait for everyone else to go first before I would take my turn and it was always funny to find what was left in the box.  It never failed that the only pieces left most times were the outer edges.  The opposite was true when the cake would be cut as all the kids would be clamoring for the pieces on the end, or the prized corner piece.  Can’t say I blame them either as who wouldn’t want the piece with the most frosting … right?  Whether it is a pizza or a cake, we instinctively gravitate to what we perceive to be the best part, as if what is left was of no value, or of less valuable.

Gravity seems to work the same way with regards to the Bible, creating problems for some when it comes to God’s word. Problems that I have dealt with myself as well as discussed with family members, friends, peers and strangers.

One issue deals with those areas of scripture that leave us uncomfortable, insecure or shamed.  Those areas we would wish were not in God’s word for one reason or another.  Scalpel in hand, there are those in society today who daily operate on the body scripture in an effort to remove what they deem cancerous, threatening or of no use; an issue seen and dealt with by early believers in Jesus’s day.

Another problem for some is in the area of the Old Testament.  For some it is intentional but for others it is more complicated than that.  Complicated may be the best word to describe the issue for many.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked the question of “Where should I start?” when it comes to the Bible; as if it is some big meal to eat or massive problem to solve.  The reality for us is that the Bible is complete and in consuming Genesis to Revelation we see the entire gospel of our savior; God’s hand of grace working throughout the course of our history to present day.  It is in solving this problem that I believe we can see the church, the bride of Christ grow and for his glory.

In D.A Carson’s book “The Scriptures Testify About Me”, a compilation of messages from pastors, including D.A, focus on preaching Christ from the Old Testament; an ability that seems to be lost in many a pulpit today. Of particular interest to me is the breakdown of 1st Timothy 4 by Pastor James MacDonald.  He expounds the scripture with a focus on verse 13 which reads:

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”

With the New Testament not in existence, where would one think Paul would be referring too? It was the knowledge he along with the early believers had of Old Testament scripture that enabled them to understand the times they were living and ministering in.  This sheds new light on my understanding of what Jesus meant when he told his disciples not worry when the time came for them to speak.  For reference on this see, Matthew 10, Luke 12 and Mark 13.

For me it is clear that the knowledge and command of scripture was not a burden to the early church. As they immersed themselves in its truth, they were in fact deepening and strengthening their relationship with their creator.  1st John 1 v 1 states:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The book of Acts also reveals that the power to command and interpret is from the Lord, in the Spirit. Acts 4 v 13 states the following regarding Peter and John’s encounter with religious leaders when defending their actions in the name of Jesus.

When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Never being a strong student and a self-perceived slow learner growing up, I’ve always been encouraged with what God can and often does with those whose hearts turn to him. It delights the Lord to raise up the humble and to humble the prideful; a power manifested in Moses and Aaron as well as the early believers all the way up to the present day church.

When it comes to the scriptures, losing sight of or veering away from the truth of the gospel, could in affect punch the ticket of an earnest seeker to a destination of judgment, or worse see a professing believer fall away from the truth that leads to salvation, to the lie of a false gospel and its result; if that could even happen.

With all the noise and perceived variability in the world today, truth and wisdom appear to be needed now more than ever.  For the seeker who finds themselves asking the questions of, “Is there a true gospel?” and if there is, “Where can it be found?” the answer is a resounding yes.  With the word gospel translating to mean good news, it is found in the receiving of the word in its entirety; and in that receiving the fullness of Christ himself.  For the believer today we need to, as Paul warned Timothy, guard our lives and the truth we live by closely if we are to under to understand the times we are living and ministering in today.  1 Timothy 4 v 16

In closing I refer Paul Harvey’s famous radio show quote, “The rest of the story”. After taking time to intro a particular subject, he would share with his listeners the vital information needed to complete their understanding; always finishing with his famous quote of “And now you know the rest of the story”.  When it comes to the gospel, the opposite is true.  John 17 v 3 states the following:

Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.

It is in the knowledge of the scriptures, Old Testament scriptures to be specific, that we see and know him and whom he sent. As said by Jesus in John 5, these scriptures testify to who he is.  You can’t know the rest of the story without knowing the beginning, the history that lead to the cross that then lead to the resurrection and will finish with the work of the Holy Spirit.  From there we see the birth of the church that lead us to the present day and will lead to our glorious future.  We just need to know the first of the story.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

First Pick

First Pick

“I’ll take him! … I’ll pick him! … What about him??”

Ah, so many great memories from the eighties. Not even a teenager in that decade, when looking at the music, movies sports, it truly is my favorite decade to date.  It is remarkable what comes to mind when thinking about a particular decade; as was the case recently when reading and reflecting on a section of scripture found in gospel of Matthew.

The introduction line of this write up was taken from a commercial that ran quite frequently in the 80’s to promote youth membership with the YM-YWCA. The commercial showed a row of kids being picked, one at a time, for a game of who knows what by unidentified team captains.  As they came to the last kid to be chosen, there seemed to be a struggle over who would take him; and not because he was the most popular or most talented.  Sensing the struggle, along with the fear of being left out, the boy looks on in dismay.

Of all the things one remembers, often what comes to mind most are those things we find ourselves identifying with and this commercial was no exception. I never forgot this commercial for one reason, I was that YMCA kid growing up.  I was always the last or 2nd to last person picked when it came to games in school or at the local kids club.  I remember how frustrated I would get as it was never based on skill as much as it was based on popularity and reading Matthew 9 v 9 – 13 took me right back to those days.

Believed to be the author of the gospel bearing his name, Matthew tells of the time Jesus first called him. At the time Matthew was probably one of the most repulsive and unattractive people one could keep company with and it had nothing to do with looks.  In verse 9 we learn that Jesus found Matthew at a tax collectors booth. I’m not sure how he found himself in that vocation but it is evident that once called, he follows Jesus without question.  One gets an idea of what was really thought of the position in verse 11 when it states:

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

As we see the position of tax collecting was put right on par with the actions of a sinner and was highly offensive to those, including the religious, of Jesus’s day to be found in their presence. To me there is a sadness found in the perception of Matthew, specifically because ones identity is often found in what they do.  Regardless of whether or not Matthew did his work honestly and rightly, he is instinctively labeled a person of interest; a sinner.  From there the disciples are questioned, if not chastised for the company Jesus kept.

At the time, those encountering Jesus, including the religious elite, were still at the discovery stage. With loyalties still in question Jesus was held with somewhat modest esteem; mainly due to his actions; something I find sadly humorous as it was those same actions, miracles as they were known, on which they would later crucify him.  Questions like “Who is this man?  How is he doing these things?  Who does he favor?” surely swarmed in their minds.  When it was found that he kept with tax collectors and sinners, they were greatly offended as they had hoped he would be one of them; that he would drive their agenda which included the avoiding of those deemed less or worthless.

In hearing the murmurings going round the room and more than that, knowing the hearts of those saying them, Jesus responds beautifully and so encouragingly in verses 12 – 13 when he states:

“On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””

In this we understand what it means to know Jesus and more than that the purpose those around him were missing; that of Messiah, Saviour.

As I meditate on his response I find myself frozen at Jesus’s ask, if not challenge, found in verse 13:

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”

I can say that I have gone, I have learned and discovered a few things. You see, not only was I a YMCA kid so to speak; but I was also Matthew.  I know what it is like to feel the shame of my sin.  I know what it is like to feel so undeserving; that my eyes should only ever look down.  But I’ve also learned that there is a great physician and his name is Jesus.  In meeting him, in being called by him, I have received his much needed mercy and have been made well and now walk not just head up but head high.  I so pray for all to not just learn but to experience Christ’s grace as I have; to be a first pick and made well and righteous before a loving father.

Coming back to the YM-YWCA commercial again, the young boy smiles as he is finally selected; leaving one with the impression no one is left out at the Y. I’m so thank that this is a guarantee in Christ.  As was with the conversation with Abraham found in Genesis 18, if there were a few righteous God would spare. In Christ, the Father sees the righteous and many have been saved.  I am proud to say that I am one of them and that the revelation of the empty tomb is at work in the saving of many more.  In Christ we are made right and to Christ, the cost was eternally worth it.  I pray you would see Christ, confess and repent of your sin and receive his offer of grace in living for him today and know that you are more than a YMCA kid but a son or daughter of the most high.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

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

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

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