Tag: Jesus

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

The Costly Christmas

The Costly Christmas

Of all the missions’ trips I’ve been on over the years, I’ve been blessed to have served in a few locations multiple times; the country of Guatemala being one of them.  Looking back I can sadly say that I do have a few regrets.  Some might look at me and say, “Sean, you’re on mission for Jesus.  What’s to regret about that?”  But never the less, I do have a few and as is the case, one stands above them all from one of my trips to Guatemala.

After several days of fruitful work, we had the chance to travel around and browse through the markets.  We found ourselves in Antigua and after a day of sightseeing and shopping, exhausted, we proceeded to the pickup spot to be transported back to our residence.  It was during the walk back that I was approached by an older lady and her sibling trying to sell what looked like a table cloth.  Truth be told I didn’t want to buy the item as I was done shopping, but this lady was persistent and would not leave my side so I threw out a price that would not budge on.  It was a low-ball offer that I had hoped would lead to her giving up but as I said, she was persistent and four blocks later we still hadn’t agreed on a price.

Eventually getting to our transport she conceded and as I was about to cross the street to leave I purchased the item.  I’ll never forget what she said as we made the exchange, “This, which was $10 American, wouldn’t be enough to feed her family.”  Maybe it was the effects of another day in the sun or exhaustion from another day on my feet, but her comment never registered with me at the time.  I remember, as I got in the van, feeling like I had won.  That I had gotten the better of deal instead of them getting the better of me this time.  It wasn’t long after I returned home that this feeling would evaporate and my perspective on value would be changed for the long term.

It was during the reading of scripture that I came across a section of text that took me right back to the coble stoned streets of Antigua.  In Proverbs 20 v 14 it states:

“It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer– then goes off and boasts about the purchase.”

In the reading of this scripture I was taken back to purchase I had made and confronted with what I had done.  Convincing the street lady that what she was offering was not worth the price she was asking, I had successfully decreased the perceived value of an item I knew was worth far more, just to get my way.  Reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas, I can’t help but wonder if we in the faith are not doing the same.

It wasn’t that long ago it seems that Christ was the center of Christmas.  Parades had the representation of most churches in the community; schools celebrated the birth of our Savior in play song and you could wish everyone a Merry Christmas without fear of offence.  Today the message of “Keep Christ in Christmas” can be found on many a sign and bumper sticker as if to say He has been or is becoming lost in our cultural consciousness.  In light of this devastating reality, and the fact that I too can get caught up in the consumption of the season, I have found myself looking at the Christmas story from a different perspective; one that I will share with you now.

In John 1 v 1 – 2 we read the following regarding Jesus and His place before coming to earth:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.”

The above was further emphasized in 1 John 1 v 2 when it says:

“The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”

In Jesus’s own words He states:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.

At Christmas, we celebrate the gift of Christ and his entry into our world but in reading the scriptures above a different narrative comes to light; one of sacrifice.

In thinking of the sacrifice of Christ one often automatically looks to His crucifixion.  One would not be incorrect in doing that but, to view the crucifixion as the only or main reference to sacrifice in the life of Christ would be incorrect.  To believe that does nothing but to devalues the life of Christ.  His sacrifice didn’t start at Calvary but started at home, in Heaven with his Father, where he was from the beginning.  He willingly set aside the eternal to come into our world the same way we all do, to be a living sacrifice for us all.  The Apostle Paul highlighted Christ’s purpose to the Romans of his day, as he does for us today, in Romans 5 v 8 when he says:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is this costly reality that has brought the perspective and the true joy as I reflect on Christmas and how we can keep Christ at its center.  Anything else only seeks to cheapen the season and is the point I now refer to as I finish.

In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Christian theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer highlights a problem that plagued the church of his day, a problem I believe still plagues us today, that of CHEAP GRACE.  He describes it as the, “justification of the sin without the justification of the sinner”; that “grace alone does everything so everything can remain as it was before.  The is a huge problem that the Apostle Paul condemns in Romans 6 v 1 when he says:

“By no means! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?”

I say, may this never be.  Based on the cost, it will never be.

So, with that, if the buildup of another Christmas does nothing but rob you of peace and joy, may the true cost of the season, that of the complete sacrifice of our Savior, fill you back up this year and beyond.  If we were never allowed to celebrate another Christmas again, you will always have reason for the season because of Jesus.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

Grafted In

Grafted In

Illness has a way of changing one’s perspective and at times, it happens in an instant.  Recent events witnessed in the life of a friend of mine have my spirit reflecting and in this case the context relates to circumstances that had left him having to face a new world and a new way of living.

Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 12, his life had to change from one of free living; do what you want, eat what you want; to that of structure and routine if he was to keep the illness in check.  Unfortunately though, when he got older, an addiction gripped him and it was only a matter of time before his body would start to fail.  A life of hard living and neglect, both physically and spiritually had taken its toll and the illness he was diagnosed with as a youth now started to take over.

Diabetes is a devastating disease that can often wreak havoc on the body resulting in all kinds of problems and in the case of my friend, he was no exception.  Of all the things those living with Diabetes face, tissue alteration and poor circulation are a few of the more visible, destructive and painful to deal with.  Amputation is often the remedy; despite ones best efforts taken to prevent it.  For my friend it started with damage done to an already suffering foot, leading to the amputation of a few toes.  From there it was more of the same foot which led to the final and most recent amputation of his leg below the knee resulting in whole new way of life for him going forward.

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, how much does a person have to go through before they realize they need to change?  Thankfully for my friend it wasn’t long after his diagnosis that he found himself in recovery.  He would say, “That was the Lord’s doing”, as he was restored physically in the overcoming of his addiction and spiritually in his relationship with God through Christ in the meeting of a Godly women who would become his wife.

During a recent visit with them to offer prayer and encouragement, I asked him how he felt.  He indicated that he could tell his leg was gone and that it was more than just a visual thing.  His body could sense that a part of him was missing and it wanted it back; something he knew for man was not possible.  But, as is the case with Christ, what is impossible for man is never impossible for God.

In Romans 11 v 11 – 32, God speaks metaphorically through the Apostle Paul to the Israelites and the Gentiles regarding his power and authority to graft in or amputate out those who accept or reject his offer of grace in Christ.  He says following in verses 22 – 24:

“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.  And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!”

From these verses we understand that it is God, our creator, who is the surgeon operating at the table on the body.  And like a surgeon, he has the eye for that which is dangerous and needs to be removed as well as that which is healthy and can be attached or put in.  And, what are we attached to you might say?  That answer can be found in verse 18 taken from the same chapter which states:

“do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

It is the root we are attached or grafted into that provides us life.

Now speaking plainly, what or who is that root?  The answer is found in John 14 v 6 when Jesus says:

 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The answer is Jesus!  The answer is and always will be Jesus!  The final question is, will he be the answer for you?

Coming back to my friend, even though a part of him is now gone, who he is hasn’t changed.  In Christ, he is a son of God and a worshipper of the only true King.  The evidence is found in the life he now lives and who he is living it for.  I’m even so bold as to say that God could give him his leg back and believe this based on what Jesus was able to do for those suffering with Leprosy.  But in saying that, I don’t believe it necessary in light of the finished work of Jesus on the cross and the empty tomb.  We would only be focused on the temporal when God in Christ, through the indwelling power and presence of His Holy Spirit, leads us to embrace the eternal.  I pray that as you read you would be grafted in as one referenced in Ephesians 2 v 13:

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

To the betterment of our body and His kingdom.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

PS: Special thanks to my friend for the permission to write this.  You know who you are.

On Display

On Display

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless – Sean Bosse

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

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