What Will The Minstrels Sing?

a-knights-parade-598x497

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” -Matthew 15:11 (ESV)

Ever wonder what kind of mark you will leave on the world? I have often wondered if I will accomplish anything in my short journey on this revolving rock that will leave any kind of mark. Actually, if truth be told, as an Ordained Deacon I mostly hope that my mark will be found in Heaven by maybe one or two souls that my life helped bring them closer to God and ultimately home. But let’s see what kind of mark we are leaving.

What will the Minstrels sing? I often joke about the medieval songsters and wonder what my ballad would sound like. Would they write about me being a good Son, Husband and Father. Would they croon on about my ministry attempts, chanting of the Gospel or my witness? Or, would my song contain bridge after bridge about failed attempts?

Most people will never enjoy the spotlight. Most of us will carry on about our days in life doing just the best we can. We can smile at the end of the day, hoping we left a good impression on those whom God has placed in our lives. It is a good reminder to grow where you are planted. To be that very person, in this very place where we are, because that is God’s design.

So what kind of voice has he given us. Well, for one, I have many connections on Social Media. Some I have known personally my entire life. Others I have never met in person, but have come to know them through posts, comments, likes and so forth. What kind of mark am I leaving on them? How am I presenting myself, my family, my ministry and my Christian life?

I present you with this thought (as stated in St. Matthew’s Gospel) “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:11 ESV). This is especially important to remember as we post, share and comment on Social Media and in our daily activities in life. I see a lot of young and older friends of mine that maybe could use a look at the above quoted passage. Sometimes, yes, I have been guilty of the same. Remember believers, that we individually represent ourselves, our families, our church, our religion and yes, our God. We should all consider this the next time we decide to share a bit of our lives on the internet. This is the modern form of the famed minstrel, carrying on with the lyrics that make up our story. It is what many of our friends, family members, current/future employers and very importantly, our kids see and may remember about us.

New year, new beginnings. Let’s all give the world our best face and words. Love will triumph. Remember, if we have chosen Christ, we have already picked the winning side. In the end, we win. Let’s make the family of God one that all people turn to. Let’s make this new year a time of bigger and better things for the kingdom.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Please subscribe, like and share! Thanks friends.

Resolve To Not Resolve

change-ahead-sign

Happy New Year! I hope and pray that the new year finds you all happy, healthy and joyous.

The coming of a new calendar year is yet another reminder that all things, in God’s creation, reset and are made anew. So, as we look back at 2016, what have you decided to resolve? Weight loss? Stop drinking or smoking? Be happier?

I have one for you. Resolve to not resolve.

In May of 2015 I stopped and took a deep look at my own life. Sure, I was happily married (and still am), Had a beautiful Daughter, good job, Good ministry and so on. Times were good and life was solid or so I thought.

Who is that guy in the mirror? Woof, you put on a few pounds there champ! My Arthritis was horrible, but, I didn’t like all those dietary restrictions. I had been blessed with all the things that should be counted as a happy life, except how I had treated myself. What about those around me? Was I treating them the same?

It was at that time that I could point out so many things that were robbing my joy that I decided to make some changes. The problem was I had made a new year’s resolution for each and every one of them before and was obviously not successful.

So what worked? Along with all of those blessings I listed before, I am now free of the pains of Arthritis and dropped 120 lbs. The question I get now, right off the bat…How did you do it? Will you share your secret with me?

It took me 42 years of walking my journey of life to realize that the ultimate change that had to be made was giving up control. God was the only way that my life was going to get on track. Sure, I was “happy”, but I wasn’t full of true joy.

There is one true way to be successful in succeeding in anything that you can list as a resolution. I don’t care if it’s finances, weight, pain, smoking, drinking or just being more happy. It is God, your Heavenly Father and creator. Once you learn to start giving each and every single piece of your life back to him, you will find that all of the things you wish to change about yourself will change for the better. He wants you to be happy. He wants you to be healthy. He wants you. Want a better marriage? Give it to him. Want to lose weight? Give it to him. You get the picture. Now all you have to do is ask.

Rather than writing a new year’s resolution, write down all of the things that keep you from having joy and peace in your life. All of them. Then talk to God, today, about you and Him working together on them. Find your joy, your peace and your change all in one place. He is waiting, no matter what you have done.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Please like, share and subscribe

Hope

hope

Merry Christmas.

I hope that this message today finds you happy, healthy and at peace in your world. For unto us this day a child is born. But more so I pray that, no matter what your situation is, you find in the celebration of our dear Savior’s birth, hope. Maybe it is hope for your life. Hope for your marriage that is strained. Hope for an illness that you or your loved one is suffering from. Hope for your child who is suffering from being bullied. Hope for your family that is separated due to strife. Hope for your finances. Hope for the world we live in that is so torn with violence, hatred and terrorism. Hope for our nation that is separated by so many beliefs and opinions. Hope for humanity.

It is this child, that we celebrate today, that we should look at as a reset. A new beginning. Just as a baby needs help to survive and grow, so do we. Each and every one of us is in need of assistance at some point. Look to this celebration of a new life to start anew.

Don’t wait for the new year. Today is your day. Today is a chance to start over. Live a new life given over to Him who created you. He is waiting. He has come for you and has done so in a way that shows us just how to be. Humble, frail and in need.

May you and your family have the most blessed Christmas season yet. One filled with love and hope.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

What You Should Expect

10268448_925192187501201_4701562448237318494_n

If you have considered coming to Christmas Eve Mass this year, or most any Mass, then this article is for you. My Ministries are based out of Trinity Anglican Church in Rock Island, IL. (1818 6th ave. to be specific) and I would like to invite you and your family to come (December 24th at 10:30 p.m.) and adore Him with us. What should you expect?

First and foremost, you will enter a newly renovated entryway, worship space, and hallways. The Church itself, more than 150 years old, has recently undergone some interior renovation. The beauty and history of the Church will come alive as you step in the doors. Handcrafted, dark and beautiful wood will amaze your senses. It truly is a historic, warm and inviting building. This renovation is the work of pure love and a symbol of an alive and growing community. But, that is not all.

You will then be greeted by a warm, loving and accepting community. These are people, just like yourself, who are growing in their faith at all different levels, from all over the world. A handshake and a smile await you as we worship together and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the anticipation of his coming again.

As we begin, you will be treated to a half hour of Caroling. Music played, in various forms, including a traditional Pipe Organ played by our Choir Director who truly is gifted by God. Accompanying him on the organ is a group of amazingly talented and gifted Choir members who gift their talent to our community and are a vital role in our worship. You won’t be able to help yourself from singing along. The experience will overwhelm you.

Following the Caroling, the Mass begins. This is where we join with the whole company of Heaven in worshiping our creator, giving thanks to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You will not be left as a stranger. With the assistance of our community, Pew Cards and Prayer Book, you will be guided through a 1600 year old traditional English service. The Liturgy is transforming, elegant and beautiful. Scripture is read from the Old and New Testament and a Psalm (or portion of a Psalm) is read together. We will hear a Sermon from one of the most amazing Priests I have ever had the pleasure of serving with. Incense will fill the air as the Eucharist is offered. You are welcome, as a Baptized Christian, to come to the Altar Rail and either accept the Body and Blood of Christ or just cross your arms and receive a blessing.

Following our worship, you are then welcome to join us in the Parish Hall for cookies, made with love, by the young people of our community. The fellowship and warmth will envelope you.

This is the Christian Faith. This is a place for you and your family to come. All are welcome. All are encouraged to join us as we travel through this life together growing, learning and exercising our faith. I encourage you to come and check us out. You will come away with a sense of knowing that you have experienced the true meaning of Christmas and Christian Worship.

What should you expect?

“A window into Heaven and a Fountain of Grace”.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Please like and share. For more information on Trinity Anglican Church, find us on Facebook or send me an email at deaconjason@mchsi.com.

Raccoons and Sin

I am currently dealing with a Raccoon.

Yes, you read that correctly. This is no ordinary rascal that you might see while driving at night. This particular varmint doesn’t go for the warmth of sewer drains like his buddies. No, this particular coon has decided that my attic makes a better hiding place.

Why not? Our Attic gives him warmth and a nice place to lay his head at night. But now it is time for him to leave.

You see this little fellow (or rather large fellow) has, on one occasion, made his way down our Attic stairs and to the bedroom door. Close enough to us, pal!

So what’s a guy to do when this occurs. I have found myself with a couple of options. The first is to “Man Up” and handle this creature from Hell myself or two, call in an expert to help exercise this demon. I chose the latter(not the ladder). I got on the phone with my buddy who referred a qualified professional. Yes, I asked for help.

This is how we deal with life as Christians. When a sin is starting to take over, and we realize it through self examination, we call in an expert. Just like how this Raccoon has gotten too close to the main floor and my family, a sin can do the same. First you see it. Then it finds a way in. Then, if allowed to stay, starts to creep ever closer to your heart, just like this Raccoon has made his way closer to my family. It starts to take over and it’s time to leave. I once heard sin is like a potato chip, you can’t eat just one.

So how do we deal with it? Call in the expert. Get rid of it. If a sin has started to dominate your life, come closer to effecting your family, taking your time away from joy, pulling you farther away from your relationships (including, and most importantly, your relationship with God), then it is high time to talk to an expert.

Phone number please? Easy…hit your knees. Pray, with all desire to let go in your heart, and ask God to forgive you for what you have done and rid your life of sin. It’s as easy as having a one on one conversation. Your Heavenly Father knows what you’ve done and knows the struggles you are having with it. Let him have it and get up and walk away from it. I have no idea how people go through life having heard of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the Cross yet still just sit and live miserably. He knows and wants to hear from you.

If the struggle you are having seems to big for you then find a Priest. Sit, and talk with him, pray with him, and head his advice. A Priest will not only be judged for his sin but the sins of those he is charged to lead. He is there for you. Call, sit, listen, pray and form a battle plan.

I do these things daily as I struggle as a sinful being. Through daily self examination I spot the sins that have made their way in and are creeping ever closer to my heart. Then I send a “Knee-mail” to my creator, to the one who took on human flesh and died on the cross so that I may have eternal life. Then I call upon the Holy Spirit to cover me as spiritual armor tomorrow as I walk back out into the world.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Avoiding A Postage Stamp Existence

636072775135655081-1038735048_39-crowd.jpg

How’s life?

No really, how is life? Is it good? Bad? Just existing? Life is so much more than going to work, paying bills and waiting to die. You were created for a purpose, and that purpose is what you must find. How do we do this? How do we know if we find it?

When you look at some of the greatest people in history, I mean those who have lived what appears to be a successful or otherwise meaningful life, it may seem that they had it laid out right in front of them. History is flooded with great people who had monumental accomplishments. So why do our lives seem sometimes to be so bland and uneventful? Maybe it is in the way we approach our everyday lives.

Think with me for a moment about our own creation. Why are you here? Do you truly believe that it was just to exist? Do you think, in the mind of God, He decided one day just to create a life so that he could drop burden and toil on someone? Of course not. You, my dear friend, were created for joy. His and yours. So why are you so miserable?

I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. I want you to start thinking outside of yourself. What is it that makes you so downtrodden? Now, I am not telling you to sell off everything you own, give away your kids and drop your marriage. You are where you are because this is where you have been planted. God is in control but your free will choices have brought you to this moment. Right here and now. It is time to tend the garden of the world around you so that you and the others in your garden can grow and prosper, in joy, as you were created to be. God gave you and I free will, but he already knows the choices you will make. Time to let the Master Gardener take control.

First pray for God to increase your joy. Not just some whisper in the wind prayer but a true, heartfelt conversation with the Father. Let him know the things that pain you and the things that you are thankful for. Now listen. Watch. Wait.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” -James 1:6

Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be some expensive leather bound expenditure. A notebook or some folded papers will do. Jot down the things you have prayed about. Leave some room after each one. This space will be set aside to revisit the prayers. Start coming back to them and jot down how these prayers were answered. Watch how God starts to work out the heartfelt requests that you have laid out to him. Remember though, it is on his time schedule and not yours. You will be amazed how much of a difference this can make. He WILL amaze you, I promise.

Start reading scripture daily. Better yet, start Google searching some scripture on joy. Read it, mark it, digest and live it. Want some examples?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 | NIV |

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 | NIV |

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Philippians 4:4 | NIV |
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12 | NIV |
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.Psalm 94:19 | NIV |
Lastly, I ask that you just be joyful. I know that life is hard and joy can seem like a distant memory or dream, but it is all around you if you really want a piece of it. Find, through constant conversation with God, what it is that He wants you to do and where he is taking your life. For it is in finding each and every day what He is calling you to do and be that you will truly find the joy that is meant for you. If you take comfort in knowing that all of us were created to bring God joy and to live a joyous life, then don’t you think it is truly worth finding and working towards. Let go and let God. It is there that you will abandon what ails you and avoid the cookie cutter, postage stamp, run of the mill life.
Be blessed,
Deacon Jason Bowden
Please feel free to like and share

 

Grief and the Holidays

imagestx2sre7q

Many of you, my friends, I know are dealing with loss this holiday season. The television and radio are filled with joyous offerings and celebratory images but all of it can make you want to scream. This is especially true if you are dealing with a loss during this season which is meant for joy. Maybe it’s not you but those you love who are dealing with sadness. So how do we as Christians deal?

Let me assure you that you are not alone. Part of living the Christian life is that you have people around you who do care even if it seems like they don’t. Often times people don’t know how to help or know what to say. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. First and foremost, know that God loves you. He knows your pain and grief and is waiting for you to give it to him. Talk to him about it. Pour out your heart in a one on one conversation with your Heavenly Father. Find a quiet place, free of all distraction, and talk. Then listen. Sit still under the shadow of his wings and feel his comfort. It’s just you and the one who created you.

Next, know that your grief is different from every other person. Even those who may be grieving the same loss. It’s ok to feel more or less than the next person. Everyone was created uniquely so why shouldn’t we feel differently? Maybe it has gotten seemingly easier for the next guy but the process has taken you on a different path. Don’t feel ashamed nor shame the next person based on where they are.

Reach out when you feel you need to. Surround yourself with those who you know will lift you up. I always recommend a member of the Clergy or someone in your Church family to set aside some time with to talk about what you are going through. Find me on Facebook, I would love to help. Do not brush off the feelings you are having and try some macho squashing, that will only cause the feelings to fester. Reach out!

When you look at life, in the most basic truth, realize that this moment in time, when you are dealing with loss, is miniscule compared to eternity. Light a candle for your loved one and pray for them. Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, if you haven’t already, and take comfort in knowing that he has promised each and everyone of his believers eternal life. Eternity is what we will spend, in complete bliss, with fellow believers and our Heavenly Father. We just have to make it through this journey. We can do it together and with His help.

If you find yourself in total darkness and despair, I implore you to reach out to me or someone who can help you. God has called his chosen, who faithfully believe in Him, to walk this journey with you. You are not alone. I promise!

Find some scripture on grief. God’s word will help comfort you combined with your faith. Here are some examples:

Matthew 5:4  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 43:2  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Psalm 18:28  “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

Psalm 46:1-2  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

Revelation 21:4  “ ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Psalm 119:50  “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

Romans 8:18  “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Have faith that God knows your pain and distress and wants nothing more than for you to call out to him. Let’s walk this journey together and find comfort in knowing that life doesn’t end in Him.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

If you enjoyed this post or know someone who might, please feel free to like and share.