Blog: Random Thoughts on Sunday's Sermon

Below are some random thoughts on this coming Sunday's message.  We hope they create a little time in your day to reflect on the journey of faith and life.  If they spur any thoughts, quotes, or experiences, please share them.  God moves among us as we share with each other.

We all grew up being asked the same question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many of us, no matter how old we are, have yet to find the answer. It’s as if we live each day waiting to grow up and become who we think we’re supposed to be. Because of this, we struggle to accept who we are and where we are in life.

Part of the beauty of faith is that it helps us look at ourselves in a different way. In scripture the Psalmist says, “Body and soul, I am marvelously made!” (Psalm 139:14, The Message). This may sound narcissistic, especially if it is something we go around telling others! But this was uttered in a private moment of prayer, thanking God for the gift of the life he had been given.

Today, take a moment to thank God for who you are and where you are in life. I know this seems hard with all the secrets you know about yourself, so think of it this way. God also knows all your secrets and yet loves and accepts you. Maybe it’s time you learn to love and accept yourself. Remember, in God’s eyes, body and soul, you are marvelously made.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Thursday, April 28, 2016

A few years ago there was an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about how a CIA agent recruits “assets” who will soon become traitors and spy on their country. One of the things that is preyed upon is people’s ego. If you can find a way to boost their egos, they’re more likely to betray their country and divulge its secrets.

There was an instance in which a CIA agent told his asset that the tidbits of information he had given him had gone directly to Jimmy Carter in the White House.  This stroked his ego sufficiently so that he was more than willing to divulge many more classified documents.

They say that the downside of appealing to the ego is that “once the stroking starts, you cannot stop: he will be needy, moody, demanding.” We should all think about that statement because there are times when we live to get our egos enlarged. As great as it is to get our egos stroked, who wants to live life as a needy, moody and demanding person?

I think that’s why the Apostle Paul speaks of the significance of the “thorn in his flesh,” that thing that reminded him that he has limitations and weaknesses. Recognition of our own limitations keep us grounded and compassionate towards others’ limitations and weaknesses.

For Paul, there was also a spiritual significance. He came to realize that God can work through his weaknesses and beyond his limitations. The same can be true for us, so rather than try to deny we have limitations, perhaps we need to embrace them. It grounds us and opens us up to a God who transcends our limitations.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Thursday, April 21, 2016

All of us have those voices in our head from our upbringing that are ever present. The voices include our parents, religious authorities, peers, coaches, teachers, etc., and they have formed a “committee” in our head that weighs in on everything we do.

What do we do when the committee is highly negative about our lives? When we miss an opportunity, we hear the committee say, “You’ll never be more than average.” When a relationship fails, we hear the committee say, “You’re not worthy enough to love.”

Part of the problem is that the committee may be the only voice we’re listening to. It may be time to fire the committee and bring new voices into our lives that help us see ourselves for who we really are. We need to allow the voice of God to speak through scripture and our community of faith to help us realize that we are unique and special—each one of us without exception.

In Psalm 8 it says, “what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor” (vv. 4-5).  We all need to hear this. If our committee can’t affirm this in us, it’s time to fire the committee and listen to other voices!

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Thursday, April 7, 2016

I’m excited to begin the new sermon series “Limitless.” The initial inspiration for this comes from a book by Parker and Brock called Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire Paradise.

The story begins with their search for images of the Jesus and the crucifixion in ancient churches. To their amazement, they couldn’t find a dead Jesus! Instead, they found that paradise was the dominant theme of art in early Christian churches. The frescos and paintings depicted images teaming with things that represent abundant life.

In researching this further, they discovered “that early Christian paradise was something other than 'heaven' or the afterlife. Our modern views of heaven and paradise think of them as a world after death. However, in the early church, paradise—first and foremost—was this world, permeated and blessed by the Spirit of God. It was on the earth.”

It was the life of Jesus and the meaning of Easter that sparked this hope and fueled the early church’s faith. I think we’ve lost this vision of what life can be and what God can do through us. Beginning this Sunday, we’ll explore how to move beyond the limits we place on ourselves. 

Something to ponder:

“Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide–open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13, The Message).

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Friday, April 1, 2016

There’s a line from T.S. Eliot that has stayed with me: “We had the experience but missed the meaning.” Easter can be like this. It can become a day on which we celebrate what happened in the past rather than explore what it means for us today. 

For the first followers of Christ, the crucifixion and resurrection had deeply personal meaning. The Apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:19-20). In this Paul is saying that he is a new person who now bears the hope that he can share in the abundant life that Jesus showed us.

Easter is the day we embrace that we too can be transformed. It is about endings and beginnings. Through faith in Christ, we can end that which holds us back and begin that which launches us forward. This Easter, don’t go for the experience. Search for the meaning.  When we grab hold of its significance for our lives, we will never be the same!

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Friday, March 25, 2016

“What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.” Oscar Levant
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

I’ve always struggled with what it means to be humble. Is it the same as being modest? Is it downgrading our thinking about ourselves because we’re not as great as we think? Is it the absence of pride? Is it more about how we think about ourselves or how we present ourselves to others?
As I’ve been pondering this passage from Philippians, I had a thought about what humility really is. Let me try it and see what you think. Humility isn’t about reducing our opinion of ourselves; it’s about elevating our opinion of others.
Being humble means that we still embrace our uniqueness, our giftedness, and our contributions, but never at the expense of diminishing the value of others or diverting attention away from them. If while embracing our accomplishments we find ways to lift up others, we are exhibiting true humility.
Humility isn't about pretending we’re less gifted and less valuable than we actually are—in God’s eyes and others. It is using what God has given us to help others shine.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Monday, March 21, 2016

In our Scripture passage this week we hear the prophet Isaiah speaking on behalf of God. God asks:

"I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" 

Put another way, God is saying, "Are you staying awake? Look with more than your eyes! Sense with your intuition. I am doing a new thing in your midst. Stay attentive."

Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope and you couldn't possibly see a way forward? Look again, God is about to do a new thing.

Have you ever felt like the routine of faith was stale? Look again, God is about to do a new thing.

Have you ever had decisions in front of you that seemed impossible to make? Look closely, God is doing a new thing in your life.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that when it seems like there is nothing left, God is still on the move making a way out of the wildernesses. Take heart, God is awake in our lives moving and doing a new thing!

Posted by Rev. Jes Kast-Keat, Friday, March 11, 2016

One caveat before I begin: if the pastor calls and asks you to do something, the answer is always “yes”! Now, on to saying “no.”

We are overwhelmed with decisions about great things we can do.  There are movies to see, restaurants to try, work assignments to take, and numerous volunteer and philanthropic to fulfill. Add to that responsibilities at home and to those we love, and we become dazed by the decisions we need to make each and every day.

But yet we must make decisions, and amidst all those decisions lies the path to the best possible life for us. So how do we know when to say “yes” and when to say “no”? We only know the answer to this when we’re in touch with what our greater purpose in life is (on this topic, listen to the message, “Which Way?”).

Stephen Covey put it this way: “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’.”

Even Jesus walked away from the many good things he could do so that he could focus on what was best. If we want to find the way to the best possible life God has for us, we need to stay true to the purposes and passions that God has given us. And we can’t do this without saying “no” to the things that pull us away from this.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Thursday, February 25, 2016

“The past is never dead. It's not even past.” This is a line William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun, and it has prompted many to ponder, what exactly did he mean? Given that the character has a troubled past that she can’t let go of, I think Faulkner is saying that our pasts aren’t in the past if they continue to dictate our actions in the present. 

Sometimes there are major mistakes we’ve made or terrible things someone has done to us that continue to control how we live. They shape how we think about ourselves, they direct our actions, and they limit our future. They never stay in the past. Everyday they become our present reality.

If we struggle with this, how do we release our pasts? Quite simply, we do it through forgiveness. As we consider what forgiveness looks like in our lives, let me leave you with four quotes from Lewis Smedes, who has helped many of us learn how to forgive ourselves and others.

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.

When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.

It takes one person to forgive, it takes two people to be reunited.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.

Forgiveness is not an easy step, but it is a necessary one. We’ll explore this theme on Sunday as we consider what we can do when we lose our way.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Thursday, February 18, 2016

Differences and disagreements are inevitable in our relationships. They show up in marriages, businesses, schools, and even churches! Much of the conflict stems from the belief that our position is better than someone else’s. We know better where to go on date night, how to raise our children, how to handle the budget, how to manage our department, how to run a meeting, and the list goes on.

The question is, what do we do when there’s conflict between us, especially when it runs deep through our relationship? Sometimes we have to make a choice. Do we want to be right or do we want to have a relationship? We can’t always have both.

In Philippians, there is a disagreement between two prominent church leaders, Euodia and Syntyche.  We don’t know the specifics of the problem, only that it was significant enough that Paul wrote to the entire community. What’s fascinating is that Paul doesn’t take sides. His advice: “be of the same mind in the Lord” (4:1). It’s another way of saying, “Remember, your relationship is more important than proving who’s right!” If both parties are of the “same mind,” it’s amazing the amount of conflict that can be resolved.

The next time you find yourself in deep disagreement with someone, remember that you may very well be making a choice: preserving the relationship or being right.  Which is more important?

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Friday, February 12, 2016