Tag: Restored

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

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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

Blown Witness

Blown Witness

As follower of Christ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done things that don’t model the faith in Christ I profess.  Everything from road rage to being an over protective parent; from being competitive to a fault to having a lack of patience; all have left me exposed on more than a few occasions over the years.  And it never seems to fail when I have a moment I’m not proud of or say something I wish I could take back, there always seem to be a pointing finger waiting wings.  It is like they come out of thin air or pop up like a jack in the box to either remind me of my witness or label me as a fraud and neither is ever a pleasant experience to say the least.

I can say that I’ve heard the proverbial “I told you so” more times than I care to remember and one of the more recent episodes happened during a touch rugby game we expected to win.  Our team hadn’t lost all year so when we found ourselves in the championship game, there was no doubt in our minds as to who would win but rather how much we would win by.  As always is the case though, it wasn’t long before we realized things weren’t going to go according to plan and I was transformed into someone unrecognizable, even to myself.

With the game hanging on the edge of a knife everyone’s level of play stepped up.  Touches became shoves; comments turned into screams and there I was, the biggest mouth of them all, right in the middle of it.  Colorful language is how it is always described but reality is there was nothing colorful about it and when the game was over we did lose but that wasn’t what was on my mind.  What was on my mind was the fact that my son had been present for our first game and that I was so thankful he had been taken home early.  I was relieved that nobody in my family was there to witness my failure. But that sense of relief abandon me by the time I had reached the parking lot to head for home.

As is the case with most league sports, when the game is over there are always those who hang behind to conversate.  As I made my way to the parking lot I found myself talking to an old friend who immediately pointed out my actions in light of my ministry and that I wouldn’t want to blow it.  With that already on my mind, I immediately felt the shame and acknowledged my wrong.  It wasn’t the first time I’ve blown it and sadly for me, probably wouldn’t be the last.

To my friend’s credit, not knowing if he is a Christian or not, he was far more gracious in his reminder than I deserved and that has me reflective at this moment.  To encourage Timothy in regards to those claiming to be something they are not Paul states the following in 1 Timothy 1 v 3 – 7:

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.  Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.  The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.  They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” 

In reading the above, I confess my brokenness.  What me hits the hardest is the fact that our, or in this case my, words and actions affect the advancement of God’s work through me.  More than that is my being able to relate to the parting from faith and love only to turn to meaningless talk.  Even more than that, professing to be a minster only to look like a fool.  I humbly repent and pray that my actions never reflect my heart before the eyes of my Father in Heaven.  That the promise found in the shed blood of our Savior would lift my head to proclaim that which was said in Psalms 3 v 3:

“But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” 

Oh Lord that you would lift my head, my heart and then my eyes to you.

As you have read this maybe you can relate.  Maybe your heart is heavy, in need of repentance.  Maybe you’re broken at the thought of what you have done; the times you’ve blown it.  Let me encourage you by saying that Christ’s journey to the cross was to for this very reason.  Jesus helps me understand this in stating the following to the people in John 15 v 24:

“If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin;” 

In doing what only God could do we are found guilty and are broken.  But, for the repentant believer this can be the very place one needs to be as Jesus did say the following in Matthew 21 v 44:

“He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” 

What kind of stone is this Jesus?  Jesus gives the answer in Matthew 21 v 42 when quoting Psalm 118 v 22: 

“Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” 

And what is a cornerstone you say?  It happens to be the stone that all things depend on or are based.  When it comes our brokenness, in Christ our lives are rebuilt with him as the foundation, enabling us to stand.

As I close, I’m reminded of the great Old Testament king, King David.  Known as a man of great faith, courage and resolve; David was also known for his great failings.  In learning about his life what has always amazed me most has been his response when faced with his sin.  Proverbs 28 v 13 speaks of the person who conceals his sin.  That was not David and the result was an outpouring of grace and compassion that increased his faith, producing a desire to not just serve but honor the one true God who made it possible for him to do so.  I pray this for us; when we are outwardly a mess and by our own hand, that our repentant contrite hearts would be covered by Jesus and pleasing to the eyes of our Father in Heaven so we can worship in spirit and truth.

God Bless – Sean Bosse