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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Blackouts and Cold Nights

Yes, I am still alive. I just haven't been able to get to a computer, or for that matter an internet connection for a few days now. The Christmas tree lights in the town square over solicited the power grid, so over half the city was blacked out during most of the festivities over the past few days. Since the heat in my apartment is electricity generated, I ended up spending much of my time huddled in my father in law's house since he has a wood burning stove.
As soon as things get back to normal, and we have power, and it's not so cold I will post something more relevant and substantial. For now I leave you with the peace of Christ our Lord and Savior.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea jr.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Little Leaven

I cried last night, twice in fact. I went to listen in on our choir rehearsels, both the adult choir, and the children's choir. And while the children sang 'silent night' in such a way that it brought me to tears, the adult choir sang one of my favorites, Handel's Messiah. I began to ponder the beauty of innocent and heartfelt worship, and how retaining our purity, and keeping ourselves spotless from the world is a grace and a virtue. I came home, and happened upon this well known verse in Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 5:6, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”
So what’s wrong with a little compromise? Under the guise of tolerance and interfaith relations, the church has been enjoying a peaceable truce with the world for decades now. It has been hugely productive for both camps. The world attends our special productions and concerts, we attend the world’s movies and plays, why, we have proven that all can live as one, coexist, and get along if only we meet halfway. They give a little, we give a little, and behold no more fierce opposition, no more debates and deliberations concerning the one true God, or the one true path, we’re all going to heaven anyway, just using different paths to get there. What’s worse, we glory in our foolishness and our blindness, we consider it a success merely because the pews are filled never giving a single thought to whether or not the souls that fill them are redeemed, saved and sanctified, or are merely ambulatory corpses.
One world, united in tolerance and acceptance of other religions, other gods, even the atheists and agnostics have a seat at the table. We have achieved in accomplishing what four thousand years’ worth of generations could not, we have united the world under the banner of mediocrity, inclusion, and ecumenism. Never mind that the Bible tells us to separate ourselves not only from the world, but also from immoral believers, to keep ourselves spotless and separate. Those were just shortsighted individuals who could not see the bigger picture. Fear mongers is what they were, scaring people into believing that a little compromise would lead to the unraveling of all that had been built on the foundation of purity and righteousness. They just didn’t get it. We’ve come such a long way, our thinking has evolved to such an extent that we can now plainly see what they could not, a little compromise is good for the bottom line, for the building fund, and for the church’s slush fund.
If you take a cup of sewer water and pour it into a gallon of the most expensive wine in the world, that wine becomes nothing more than sewer water. If you take a gallon of the finest wine in the world and pour it into a cup of sewer water, once again, you have very expensive sewer water.
What some refuse to acknowledge is that no matter how little leaven we allow into the church, it compromises the integrity of the whole. However little the compromise, we are making in order to achieve a certain agenda, it has successfully spoiled the entire lump, for compromise begets compromise, and sin begets sin. However little the sin we allow to reside in the camp might be, we must realize that it is the nature of sin, the nature of evil, to defuse itself, to spawn, to grow, to spread to eat away at righteousness, and destroy the souls of those that allow it to flourish.
Rather than actively seek out the leaven in our midst, and purge it lest we become contaminated, we welcome and invite compromise with open arms, and warm smiles. It is not the church’s job to make the sinner comfortable in the midst of the congregation. It is not the church’s job to seem compassionate and sympathetic concerning the sins that are evident in the lives of those who attend service. It is not the church’s job to tolerate anything less than the standard that God has set forth for His children. The church’s one duty, it’s primary goal, is to preach repentance, to point the way to Christ and the cross, and compel those who would hear to be born again, to receive the gift of salvation, to be renewed in mind and spirit, and pursue holiness.
One cannot make deals with the darkness, or with sin and expect them to keep up their end of the bargain. Sin will always renege on its promises it will always go back on its word. Once sin has a hold of a soul, once the darkness has talked it into compromise, it will be merciless in its struggle to reach its final objective, the destruction of the good.
We have been beguiled and seduced by the world, and by we I am referring to the modern day church, not realizing that the world has its own agenda, it has its hidden motives for treating us with a modicum of kindness and false sincerity. We revel in the glory of the world, and glory in our own ingenuity for building bridges and mending fences, not realizing that slowly but surely we are becoming the world.
Those who see beyond the now, those who perceive the outcome of compromise by spiritual insight, are troubled, vexed, heartbroken, and rightly so. For not only will the entire lump be leavened by the little we have allowed, but those who refrain from joining in with the unclean things, will be viewed as dissidents, dissenters and nonconformists, enemies of progress, and spoilers of unity.
If you believe it will only be the world that will persecute the people of God, you are in for a rude awakening. The outline of what is to come is already taking shape, like the first strokes of a painter’s brush upon the canvas. We can see where it’s headed; we can deduce the finished product, long before the finishing touches are applied.
There are those who give themselves freely to sin within the house of God, which allow compromise and selfish motives to dictate the sermons that are preached, and the path that is followed. Then there are those who have chosen to purge out the old leaven, to hollow out their hearts in anticipation of the new resident that will soon reside there, and soon there will be an inevitable clash of these two camps.
The persecuted or the persecutor, the divine or the profane, each must choose a side in the battle that is to come. God will stand with those who are His, who have chosen the narrow path of uncompromising faith, and will rightly judge those who claim to be His, but whom He does not know.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Finally Home

I finally arrived home, to find that my father had already planned the week out for me. The past few days have been spent doing benevolence, passing out food packages, clothing, checking up on church building projects, and about a dozen other things that have taken up my time.
I got to see my niece and my nephew, they've grown.
Every time I come home nostalgia seems to wash over me. I remember my childhood with great clarity, the times my grandfather used to come home bruised and beaten by the secret police, the unannounced visits by the police who would ransack our home looking for Bibles, the apple orchard, the well in the front yard, all the things that make up the essence of who we are at the end of this life, the memories we hold onto, for better or worse.
This present life gets busy sometimes, we have responsibilities, bills to pay, porches to mend, fences to paint, children to raise, and we overlook or minimize the need for taking that precious time and making happy memories with those closest to us, family and friends, wives and husbands, children and grandchildren.
Since my Internet connection is intermittent at best, I will not make this post long, and I promise sometime this week before Christmas eve, I will carve out a niche of time and make a more substantial post.
The only thing worthy of note on my heart tonight, yes it's night time here, is to make the precious times with those you love, truly precious. Life passes so quickly, and we often don't notice that it has slipped away until we are far advanced in years, when the knees start to ache, and the joints get stiff. Life, even this present life, in this present generation, duplicitous and unloving as it may be, is a gift from God, one that we as children of God must value and appreciate.
Life's too short to hold grudges, or harbor ill feelings, to let bitterness stain our hearts, and stifle our spiritual growth. I don't know who this is for, but perhaps it's time to forgive, for you were once forgiven of far more grievous things than a misspoken word or perceived insult.
May you be blessed, and loved, and comforted. May the light of Christ shine in you and through you that the world might see His nature in all you are and all you do.
Until the next time I am able to get a connection, and have a few minutes to spare, God bless.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Foresight

Sin does not come upon a nation suddenly. It is a slow process that creeps into the heart of a nation, like a malignancy that continues to grow and consume everything that is pure and just. If sin would show its true face, if disobedience would advertise the final outcome, there would be less compromise, and willful disobedience of God’s word in this world. Sin takes its time; it realizes that in order to corrupt the whole it must begin by corrupting a mere fragment of the whole.
The inevitable decline of a nation which gives itself over to sin has been documented throughout history. It always begins innocently enough, but given enough time unopposed, the descent into darkness is unavoidable. Soon enough what was perceived as sinful yesterday, becomes accepted practice in the present, and what is perceived as detestable in the present, will become common practice in the near future.
To most the decline of a nation is imperceptible. It comes about so slowly, that most write off the depravity, attributing it to progress, the expected shift in the perception of a certain generation due to its evolution in terms of civilization. There have always been however, the few who see moral decline in a nation for what it is, and though the present might not be all that bad, foresight gives them a glimpse into the near future. If one travels long enough on any given road, his final destination becomes a certainty. Foresight allows such men to see the end result of continued compromise, of willful disobedience, and compounded rejection of God’s love and mercy.
Elijah was such a man. He saw where Israel was headed, and his heart ached. He realized that their worshiping of idols, and rejection of God’s commandments would lead the nation that he so loved to a dark day of reckoning, and judgment.
The land was dry and barren, for it had not rained for three years and six months. God was pressing down upon His people, attempting to get their attention, but the more He pressed, the more rebellious they became. Although the prophecy had come to pass, that it would not rain in the land for some years, Jezebel was still thirsty for the blood of the prophets, and those who would not compromise their faith. Yes, Elijah had been right, but this did not deter the queen and her minions from hunting down the men of God and slaughtering them mercilessly.
Elijah was a hunted man. A great manhunt had been underway for some time, in an attempt to find him. Blinded by his own sin Ahab had sent men to neighboring nations and kingdoms looking for the man of God, asking the kings of the nations to swear an oath to him that Elijah had not been in their nation before he continued his search.
Things had gone from bad to worse, and now Ahab was preoccupied with finding grass for his horses and mules, so he wouldn’t have to kill them. The nation spiraled out of control, yet never considered that turning their hearts back to the God they had abandoned might be the remedy to all their troubles.
When a heart is hardened to the truth by the sin it has allowed to fester there, when it invites darkness and shuns the light, the most obvious answers to the most burning questions become illusive and unattainable. Sin had blinded the nation to the truth, and rather than repent, their blood lust against the prophets of God only heightened.
The time had come to make a stand, and prompted by the voice of God, Elijah met Obadiah, the man who was in charge of Ahab’s house, and asked him to pass a message on to Ahab. The message was simple, and straightforward, “go, tell your master, Elijah is here!”
It was to be God’s final attempt at reaching His people before outright judgment would be poured out, and God had chosen a vessel by which to fulfill His plans. When God speaks, we have no choice but to obey. Here was Elijah, eluding Ahab and his soldiers for over three years, hiding in caves, always on the run, when God speaks to him, telling him to go and see the man who wanted his blood. Being a servant of God most often requires that we spend much of the time outside of our comfort zones. It is certain that Elijah was not pleased concerning the fact that he was to meet with Ahab, but he knew that the One who sent him, would also ensure his safety.
The messages was relayed to Ahab, and the king went to meet with Elijah. Upon seeing him Ahab said to Elijah, “Is that you, o troubler of Israel?”
Obviously it was not the friendliest of greetings, but it allows us to see whom Ahab had been blaming for the lack of rain in the land all these years. Never did it cross his mind that rejection of the one true God may be to blame, in his mind it was Elijah’s fault. Ahab was now face to face with the guilty party, the one who had caused all these troubles to come upon Israel, and he would let him know as much.
One trait that all true men of God in the Bible are known for is their unwillingness to hold back the truth for fear of offending the party they are addressing. Here was Elijah, standing before the king of Israel, with absolutely no regard for his feelings, not willing to sugarcoat his reply to Ahab’s greeting even if it meant further angering the man.
In today’s society Christian leaders have developed a fondness for pulling their verbal punches, for watering down the message for fear of offending those who would hear it. If only they were willing to stand firm and unwavering for that which they believed, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much confusion, so many gray areas when it comes to the faith, to doctrine, and to teaching. Truth must be our banner, our standard, our cause and our mission, and though it is likely to offend some, it may serve to wake others from their slumber of indifference.
Elijah would not hold back the truth from Ahab’s ears, and in keeping with the tradition of those chosen men who came before him, Elijah’s reply to Ahab was somewhat brutal and to the point.
1 Kings 18:18, “And he (Elijah) answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals.”
Elijah’s reply to Ahab’s accusation of being the one who troubled Israel might have been as a hard slap to the face, but his reaction proves that it had the intended effect. When Elijah asked for all of Israel to be gathered on Mount Carmel, Ahab did not protest, but rather did as the man of God asked and gathered all of Israel, including the prophets of Baal.
Elijah’s victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel is another lesson in and of itself that I will reserve for another time. The lessons we were mean tot glean from this present article, are of themselves important for anyone who sees the nation’s descent into sin and depravity, for all those with God given foresight of where we are headed if we do not change course.
Silence is not an option when it comes to sin and compromise, especially within the house of God. It is due to the silent majority that sin is allowed to flourish, unabated and unchallenged.
The fear of many is that no one will listen, even if they speak, that no one will heed even if they warn. As true servants, as true disciples of Christ, we must overcome the fear, realizing that our only duty is to speak the truth. The listening and the heeding of truth is up to the individuals whom God brings across our path, our only duty is to open our mouths and be a witness. Long ago I realized I have no control over the hearts of men, or their reactions when it comes to the truth of God’s word. I however, must do my part that God may do His. It is God who pricks the heart, who stirs the conscience, and if one will heed, and if one will repent, a lifetime of preaching will have been worth it.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

True Greatness Part 2

After some thirty six hours of hurrying up, then sitting around, of automobiles and planes, of waiting for delayed flights,and for snow storms to pass by, I finally made it to Romania. The journey is always maddening, but once you get home it makes it all worthwhile. I'm sure there's a sermon in there somewhere, but I will save it for another time. My brother Daniel met me at the airport, and we talked throughout the long drive to Iasi. The weather has turned in Romania as well, and we were racing a snowstorm all the way home. As I write these lines, I am staring out the window of my brother's apartment, onto the dome of a four hundred year old cathedral, covered in snow. Yes, it is very different here, than staring out the window of my apartment in the US and seeing a WalMart advertisement.
I just woke up after sleeping thirteen hours. I was tired. My brother said he was minutes away from checking my pulse to see if I was still alive. I will be traveling to Botosani tomorrow, to see the rest of the family, and get settled. Thank you all for your prayers, and encouraging words. I apologize for not being able to post the rest of the message on Friday, but I was running late as it was.
Jesus uses the parable of a child’s humility in an attempt to open His disciples’ eyes, and bring them to understanding. The humility of a child is truly beautiful and natural. A child does not know that he is humble, and herein lies the beauty of what Jesus was endeavoring to teach His followers. When you know that you are humble, you have not as yet, reached or achieved true humility. Children are unconcerned with the fact that some adults may look down on them, or consider them worthless. The Christ unclothed Himself of heavenly glory that he may become a child, who was born in a manger. No one could have humbled themselves more than He, and no one will ever again achieve such a level of humility. Thus the reason the Father raised Him up, higher than any other in His vast kingdom, becoming the greatest.
Humility is the road to greatness. The smaller we become, the greater we become. If we look upon the example of the child, and his humility, we realize a child’s attitude is ‘I am nothing, I know nothing, I can do nothing, I have nothing.’ A newborn child is unable to survive on its own, and is dependent on its parents to feed it, clothe it, teach it and raise it. The newborns of other creatures are able to fend for themselves from birth. They are able to forage, to hunt, to survive on their own, yet the offspring of man is unable to do any of those things.
A newborn baby is wholly dependent, and this is how man must be in respect to his relationship with God. What does man truly know of all the mysteries that surround him? His own strength is insignificant, mere nothingness, in the face of all that surrounds him, be it circumstances, or nature. What does man truly possess? Naked he came from his mother’s womb, naked he will return to the earth.
If man can have, and do anything in and of himself, it is always in the negative. If he is able to do anything, it is to commit evil; if he is anything he is a sinner; if he has anything, it is a multitude of sins. As long as man does not acknowledge these truths concerning himself, as long as he does not come to terms with his Godless condition, he will neither repent, be born again, or enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Go cannot stand the exaltation of flesh, and the pride of sinful man in the midst of a ruined and fallen world. It is a stench to His nostrils, an abhorrence before His eyes. It is humility that brings us to that place, at the foot of the cross, wherein we are stripped of the pride, the self, the flesh, and clothed in Christ.
Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.”
Isaiah 2:11-12, “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up, and it shall be brought low.”
True greatness is the way of humility, of selflessness, of daily dying to this flesh, and allowing the glory of God to shine in us and through us. It is the greatness of God that we must seek in this hour, and we seek it not for our benefit, or our glory, but for His glory. God, who knows the heart of every man, knows why we desire greatness, whether for His glory, or our own, He knows.
If righteousness is found within, if the purity of our hearts and minds are centered on the greatness of God, then it is He who will exalt us, who will lift us up. However, if the desire for greatness is centered upon this present time, upon this flesh, and our aspirations revolve around selfish pursuits, it is His promise that He will come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up, and it shall be brought low.
If you desire true greatness, it can be found at the foot of the cross, in humble supplication before the Creator of all that is, desiring nothing more that He become our all in all, that He guide us and direct us, that we hear His voice, and feel the warmth of his love in perpetuity.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

True Greatness Part 1

I've spent the last two days trying to put the December/January newsletter to bed. I needed to get it done before I left. With less than twenty four hours to go before takeoff, I still haven't packed a thing. I apologize for not posting anything yesterday, there just wasn't any time.
Matthew 18:2-4, "And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
The desire for greatness is as natural to the human existence as life itself. From the day of his birth until the day a man breathes his last, he wages an unending crusade for survival, and to achieve greatness. The disciples of Christ were no different than you or I when it came to their humanity, and so one day as Jesus was among them, they came to Him saying, 'Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?' Whether they were speaking only of the twelve that were gathered before Him, asking Him to choose the greatest from among them, we do not know, but one thing is certain, they desired to know who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
Who placed this desire for greatness in men's hearts? Most of us would be tempted to answer: the devil. Perceived only from one singular viewpoint, a single prism, it would appear to be a logical assessment, the enemy is the one who places the desire for greatness in men's hearts; yet when viewed as a whole, perception shifts, and new understanding is gleaned.
Just as it is not sin to struggle, to labor, in earning one's daily bread, as it is a necessity of this present life it is not sin to desire greatness, to desire to reach the top of the proverbial pyramid, to attain perfection, for fear of remaining in darkness, on par with the earthworm. The desire to be great, to be elevated toward a more perfect light, toward a more complete understanding, and greater spirituality, is planted in the souls of men by God, the creator of all.
Two things however must remain affixed to our hearts in permanence, to be meditated upon in perpetuity:
1. How is it that we achieve true greatness?
2. Whom do we desire to achieve greatness for?
The desire for greatness can be birthed and guided by God, but at the same time the enemy can fuel it also, depending on the condition of one's heart. If my heart is pure before God, then I know my desire is for His greatness in me, no my greatness in myself. If however, selfishness still finds a home in said heart, and sin abounds there, the desire for greatness becomes nothing more than an outwardly expression of inward selfishness.
Everything man may accomplish that does not have the glory of God as the primary objective of said accomplishment, is the work of the enemy, disguised in nobility. The greatness and perfection men seek can only be found in submission and obedience of God's word, and humility before His eternal countenance.
Dark and horrible things happen when men's selfishness is the driving force behind their desire for greatness. The heart of man is exceedingly cunning, and to quench its thirst for greatness it uses the most vile of means.
Selfishness will often put on the innocent and beautiful robes of benevolence, just to be viewed as great in the eyes of others. Self does not labor on behalf of God; it labors on behalf of its own vanity and pride. In order to achieve its objective the self will trample underfoot everything that is holy and just, because it is driven by the idea that the end justifies the means. History has proven time and time again that the most beautiful of ideals have hidden the most hideous and bloodthirsty monsters. Only God knows the horrors that have been committed under the cloak of false godliness, and time and time again we have been shown the grotesque reality of hypocrisy, hidden beneath the mask of self-righteousness.
The Bible does not hide the mistake of God's children. It does not sweep their shortcomings under the rug, or attempt to minimize them, the Bible reveals their humanity, and in this case, the disciples of Christ were vying for the highest office, because they believed that their Teacher would soon be King on earth. Their desire for earthly greatness was not omitted from the Word, but neither was Christ's rebuke of them. The reason this passage was included in the Bible, was not that we would follow the example of the disciples, but to keep away from the selfish desires of greatness concerning this earth and the things thereof.
True greatness, is desiring the fullness of God every day of your life, in recognizing God's authority, omnipotence, and sovereignty in all things. True greatness is pursuing a relationship with Christ that goes beyond the ordinary or nominal Christianity, into a new dimension of greatness and intimacy. With every prayer a brother uttered, he would always include the words, 'and Lord, please don't let me be a ordinary Christian', as his ending phrase. It is a noble pursuit and a mark of greatness, to desire to be more like Christ.
There is one interesting aspect in the conversation between Christ and His disciples. While they were asking who would be the greatest in His kingdom, Christ was attempting to show them what it would take for them to even make it there. They were so obsessed with the idea of being great, that they stopped thinking about being saved.
Two attributes are necessary to attain true greatness, which can only be achieved once salvation is had. I speak not of the transitory greatness of the world, but of the lasting greatness that comes from God, and extends into eternity. The first attribute is that one must be converted, and become as a little child, in essence, to be born again. The second, to humble oneself.
I will save the discussion of what it means to be born again for another time, perhaps another post, and now focus on the second attribute one must possess in order to be great in the kingdom of God.
In order to become humble, one must first and foremost return to God, and acknowledge the fullness of who God is. True realization of all God's attributes, tends to expose us to the reality of just how insignificant we are. He is the Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, He is all knowing, all powerful He can speak worlds into existence, and the Universe bends to His will.
When we embrace God, we reject pride; we reject the habitation of the enemy and enter into the habitation of God. A wise man once said, 'the fundamental of Christian philosophy is humility.' As long as we still retain the illusion that we are capable, able, or strong in and of ourselves, the flesh is still able to rise up and inject an overwhelming dose of pride in our hearts. Pride kills; humility makes us great in the eyes of God.
I just realized this thought was too long to fit into one post, and so I will attempt to finish the second part of this post sometime before my departure tomorrow morning.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Martyr Remembered Part 2

Acts 7:57-58, "Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul."
Keep in mind this was not a crowd of uneducated brutes, the great high priest was there, as was the entire council. These were men who considered themselves deeply religious, keepers of the law. Religious as they considered themselves to be, their fury blinded them. They regressed to the point of stopping up their ears, hoping the words of Stephen would no longer make their way into their hearts. They could take no more. Their sin had been exposed, their hypocrisy revealed and now they would become the result of their actions. Envy and hate judge absent of reason, and nothing angers, and stirs the embers of hatred in deception more than the sun of truth shining down upon it.
In order to protect their religion, and religiosity, those considered most pious among the people, the religious elite, no longer had ears to hear, or hearts to understand the truth. Stripped of their cloaks of false righteousness, the zealous defenders of religion, and religious systems, to this day stone the confessors of Christ.
When they heard Stephen speaking of the heavens opening up, and especially of the Son of God, their fury was such that it kept them from taking him before the Roman authorities, from having a fair trial, or simply having a magistrate pronounce a death sentence as was customary. They dragged him out of the city and stoned him, without the illusion of due process, or trial.
Truth never killed anyone. Yes, men have been killed for the sake of truth, men have gladly sacrificed their lives to uphold the truth, but unlike religious hatred, truth never killed anyone. The lessons we could learn, if only we desire to be apt pupils, to sit at the foot of the cross, and glean knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
Sometimes it is necessary for us to be dragged out of the city, to be cast out of the religious system in which we were raised, or the teachings we have allowed to worm into our hearts, that we may gaze into the heavens. Do not be troubled when you are cast out of the city. Do not be troubled when you begin to see hatred in the eyes of those you once called brothers, because you chose to journey deeper into the mysteries of God. Pray for those who throw stones at you, pray for those that mock you, pray for those that reject you, even such as these are used of God to sanctify your vessel.
In his final moments, the first martyr for the cause of Christ was not alone. The crowd may have screamed, blood lust being what it is, stones hurled at his defenseless body, but Stephen did not feel the stones upon his flesh, he no longer heard the ranting of the crowd, he was in the embrace of His savior.
The Son of God stood in heaven, and witnessed the martyrdom of Stephen, a means of honoring one of the first witnesses to lay down their lives for the cause of Christ.
There was another present, one who did not participate in the murder of Stephen, but who consented to his death. The witnesses had laid down their clothes at his feet, and he had witnessed the entire exchange. His name was Saul.
If we perceive this tableau in spiritual terms and place Stephen and Saul facing each other, we discover one who was at his journey's end, and one who was yet to begin his journey in laboring on behalf of Christ and the cross.
Seeing Saul and Stephen side by side, we see where the grace of God found us, and how far the grace of God has brought us. In Saul we understand the condition in which God found us, and in Stephen we perceive how far His grace is able to carry us.
With every blow, with every cruelly thrown stone, the soon to be martyr was one breath closer to receiving his reward. Stephen felt this present life seeping from him the earth around him soaked in his blood, and still gazing into heaven, he prayed.
His prayer was not long, or elaborate, he did not use big words to convey the final thoughts that encompassed all he felt, and all he hoped, he said, 'Lord Jesus receive my spirit.'
Kneeling he then uttered the last words he would ever utter on this earth, with a loud voice, words that surely haunted those present for the rest of their lives on earth, 'Lord do not charge them with this sin.'
The disciple of Christ had achieved his objective. He had become like His master, loving to the last those who were responsible for his death. As the Lord prayed on the cross for those who crucified Him, so Stephen prayed for those who stoned him. In life, as in death the righteousness, meekness, and greatness of our Lord shines in all of His servants.
If we live, may we live for Christ; if we die, may we die in Christ. This is our purpose on this earth, and there is none greater. Short as his mention in the Word is, the life and death of Stephen is a lesson to us all, showing us the true meaning of faithfulness, obedience, and steadfastness.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Martyr Remembered Part 1

Perhaps it's my upbringing, or the fact that my family lived under persecution for the first nine years of my life, but I've always had a great respect for those who paid the ultimate price for their faith. To give one's life for the cause of Christ is the ultimate in faithfulness and obedience, and throughout history there have been men who have done just that.
His appearance within the pages of Scripture is like a star burst lighting up the night sky. His time among the brethren was short, but when it comes to matters of relevance, substance is always more important than length of time on the scene.
He was not an apostle. By what the Word of God shares we can conclude that Stephen, the man we will be discussing today, was a Hellenist, a Jew scattered among the Greeks, as were the other six that were chosen by the leadership of the church to oversee the daily distribution of charity and benevolence.
Some students of the word believe that Stephen became a disciple of Christ upon hearing Peter's stirring oratory on the day of Pentecost. Since the Bible does not claim this however, I cannot pronounce myself on the matter. What is known of Stephen is that he was a man of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
Due to his knowledge of the Old Testament, it would seem that Stephen had been a faithful Jew before becoming a disciple of Christ. It would also seem that he was good with words, spoke with conviction, and the people were drawn to the messages he preached fearlessly and passionately.
Such was the power that Stephen possessed so persuasive were his words, that those who disputed with him could not resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke. The opposition against Stephen in the synagogues grew, and since his adversaries could not refute his teaching, for it was the word of the living God, they secretly induced men to say they had heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.
Those who cling to darkness will always fight against the light, and they fight dirty. Since they could not debate Stephen openly, they plotted and stirred men against him secretly.
Knowing that your only desire is to awaken people to truth makes violent opposition all the more heartbreaking. It hurts to see that by their ignorance men conspire against themselves daily. If not for the knowledge that the word will have the final say, that it will overcome the darkness of this present age, discouragement would be an easy snare to fall into.
Stephen was beyond feeling such emotion. He was the vessel that held God's holy fire, and it burned those around him when it spilled over the edge. His words burned deep within, and those who heard him were cut to the heart. They could not allow this to continue. When all else fails, heap on more accusations, perhaps something will stick. Now they began accusing Stephen of speaking blasphemous words against the synagogue, the holy place.
There is an old saying, but a true saying, that it is pointless to have suspenders when you have no pants. They holy place of which they spoke was useless to them, because they were living in sin. Their anger against Stephen blinded them to the fact that in order to silence him, they had broken one of the commandments, 'thou shall not bear false witness.'
When men attempt to defend truth with a lie, it is no longer truth, no longer worth defending.
Truth and pure intentions were hurting and undercutting the bottom line. The issue of Stephen's detractors, in point of fact, was not him, but the Christ of which he spoke, and the offerings they were losing out on.
Finally their efforts were rewarded with Stephen being brought before the council, to answer for his imagined and contrived crimes. There he stood, and all in the council, without exception, looked upon this man who was being vilified by his accusers, made to look like some draconian apparition, and all they saw was his face, as the face of an angel. All saw the truth of who Stephen was. There could be no doubt.
It is a beautiful thing to shine in the midst of the congregation of believers, but it is a miracle to shine in the midst of the beasts, to have your enemies and adversaries see the light of God shine upon your countenance. In that moment, Jesus identified with Stephan, because Stephan identified with Jesus.
Although the council had seen Stephen's countenance, although they all agreed his face was as the face of an angel, they were not affected, or deterred from their objective. Self interest, and earthly wants harden the hearts of men to such an extent, that they would readily trample upon the most profound of truth, and deny the most powerful of realities.
What follows after the inquisitor asks Stephen to respond to the accusations is the longest oration in the Bible, uttered by one of Christ's followers. A speech rooted in Scripture, spoken with conviction, not in custom or upon the traditions of men.
The oration is such that dissecting it would be a book in and of itself, and so I will reserve the study of Stephen's words for another date. His words were not conciliatory. Stephen was not attempting to appease the men before whom he was standing; he was attempting to preach the truth to them. Without regard for his safety, he concluded his inspired speech by calling the assembled crowd stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in the heart and ears, accusing them of resisting the Holy Spirit as their fathers had done. Needless to say his words stirred the crowd, in that they gnashed at him with their teeth.
Unfazed, unconcerned with the growing anger of the crowd around him, Stephen being full of the Holy Spirit gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
In order to gaze into heaven, one must be infused with the Holy Spirit here on earth. This is the condition that must be met before mere mortals can gaze into the eternal, to behold the glory, to see what eyes of flesh cannot. When our gaze is fixed upon the heavens, we are no longer affected by what happens on earth.
The earth may shake around you, the fury of the godless may rage against you, remain calm and gaze into heaven. When you gaze beyond the shroud of this present life, when you see beyond the present, into God's eternity, peace surrounds you, joy covers you, and Christ embraces you.
A Greek philosopher once said, 'only when a man is able to ignore death, can he act freely.' Stephen was beyond fear, for him, as for Paul, to live was Christ, and to die was gain.
Tomorrow with God's help, we continue to remember Stephen, the man who gazed upon the glory, to see what more can be gleaned from this humbling servant.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

But Why?

I think my wife's addicted to 'little cuties'. They are seedless California clementines, and in the last two days she's gone through an entire box. You could probably get yourself a spare kidney in a third world country for what a box costs in Wisconsin, in the winter, but being in love for seven years makes a man do strange things, like putting off the purchase of his limited addition Dr. Grip pen, braving the elements, and going to the supermarket to get yet another box of his wife's favorite citrus fruit.
I was standing in line earlier today, box of clementines under one arm, when I began overhearing a conversation between a mother and her child. Before I begin, I must point out that I love kids. I have a niece and a nephew that I spoil every chance I get, about a hundred children that I feel responsible for in the hand of help orphanage, but there are some kids out there, that whether for lack of parenting or discipline - I will not pronounce myself on the matter until I've raised a couple of my own - are just obnoxious.
"Put on your coat," the haggard mother began speaking to her child, who in my estimation was about five years old.
"But why mommy?" he responded without moving a finger to put on his jacket.
"Because it's cold outside she answered."
"But why mommy?" the child asked again.
"Because it snowed," she answered again in a patient voice that astounded me.
"But why mommy?" the boy queried again.
"Because we live in Wisconsin."
"But why mommy?"
"Because your dad couldn't get a job in Florida."
The conversation digressed from there, I think the woman had some issues with her husband, but there is a point to this abbreviated story.
When God commands, we must obey. It is not our job to ask why, and if we do, the answer will most likely be, "because I said so!"
God does not suggest, He commands. He is not a guidance counselor, or a life coach, trying to find the positives in your life while overlooking the negatives. He is the sovereign omniscient, omnipotent, Creator of all that is, whose voice shook the heavens when He said, "be ye holy, for I am holy."
There is no getting around the fact that many today have redefined the nature of God. No, it wasn't the atheists, the agnostics, new agers, or unbelievers that have redefined His nature, but those who claim to know Him best, the preachers, the teachers, the pastors and pharisees among us.
Long forgotten are the concepts of a wrathful God, a jealous God, a righteous God, a just God, a holy God, all having been replaced by the singular more palatable and seeker friendly mantra, 'He is a loving God'. Nothing more, no other qualities necessary, he's simply a loving God.
I agree wholeheartedly, He is a loving God, but this does not mean we can reduce the nature of God to five words that fit well on a bumper sticker.
Because the righteousness and judgment of God are no longer being preached from the pulpits, most have made the impossible leap from God being a loving God, to 'since He is a loving God, there should be no fear, and even if I sin willfully, well He's loving, and even if I trample the blood of His son, He'll overlook it, because love covers all.'
There is a reason God commands His children to live up to a certain standard, and that reason is their sanctification. Without holiness, no man will see the Lord, and knowing this God commanded that we aspire, seek after, and attain holiness.
If we were to reacquaint ourselves with the authority of God, and understand that He desires the best for us, He desires to see us with Him in eternity, perhaps less of us would constantly be asking why, and simply obey God's commands.
I do not have the authority or the right to question God's commands, or His requirements concerning my life. I cannot ask why, all I can do is submit, humble myself and obey.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

The Benefits of Blind Faith

It's just a little past 2:00 AM, and I'm still typing away. There is much work to be done before I leave for my trip to Romania, and no I did not forget to post something today, I just haven't had the time.
Imagine if you will, that you had never seen a rainstorm in your life; in fact imagine you had never seen even one single, solitary drop of rain. Throughout your childhood, long into adulthood, it was the dew of the morning that would give the plants and the trees their much-needed hydration and succor.
Now imagine that one sunny day, you heard the voice of God, telling you to build an ark atop a hill, that it would rain for forty days and forty nights, and every living thing on the face of the earth would perish, except you, and those in the ark with you.
Yes, you would have noticed the world growing exceedingly evil, you saw as God's creation perverted everything good and just, destroying themselves in the process. You witnessed as homosexuality was defended by the constitution, decapitations were fodder on live television, parents were raping their own children, the poor were mocked and treated with indifference, children were killed while still in their mothers' wombs, and merchants of illusion and death, whether alcohol or drugs were having trouble keeping up with demand. Yes, you saw God's reasoning behind His judgment!
Although the world around you grew worse and worse, and the lines of morality blurred to the point of unrecognizable, you maintained a right standing with God, in fact it was due to the fact that God would have found you righteous before Him in that generation that He would have spoken these words to you in the first place.
When the flood finally came, Noah was pushing six hundred years of age. The Word does not specify how long it took Noah to build the ark to God's specifications, but chances are it was more than a weekend project.
Throughout all this time, Noah was not alone, nor was he isolated from those living in the same region as him. It is plausible that after a given period of time, Noah would have become a running joke among his compatriots, once in awhile venturing up the hill, to see how the ark was coming along, rolling their eyes, and snickering into their palms.
"Coming along great Noah, you sure it's big enough? Couldn't you find a taller hill?"
Still, Noah labored ceaselessly, because he believed God had spoken to him, and his faith was as such that no mocking words, no rolling of the eyes, no men thinking him mad would dissuade him. He knew that he knew God spoke to him, and no amount of scorn and disdain would alter this truth. Noah simply did according to all the Lord had commanded him, including keeping to the exact specifications God had given him for the ark. In all things he was faithful and obedient.
There is a lesson to be learned in this, one that can be applied to many ministers and ministries today. It is important to remain faithful to God, to retain our purity after God speaks to us, because it was these qualities that caused Him to speak to us in the first place. Some men begin to consider themselves above reproach once God speaks to them, allowing pride and sin in their lives, justifying these things by believing they can do no wrong since God spoke to them.
Noah obeyed, he remained faithful, and once the rains started to pour, Noah and his family had a refuge. Because of the waters of the flood, Noah, his wife, his sons, and his sons' wives, went into the ark. Noah's blind faith was rewarded in that not only he was saved, but also his entire family. After the animals had entered two by two, male and female of all flesh, the Lord shut them in the ark. Their place of refuge had been prepared long before the first raindrop, and now due to nothing less than blind faith, their sanctuary kept them safe while the world perished beneath the roiling waters.
Often faith and obedience are rewarded only once the storm begins, and the waters start to pour down. It is then that we see the benefits of our faith in God, and discover the fact that He had made a place of refuge for His children, an shelter from the storm, and whatever may come, His children are safe from harm. Faith in God never fails; faith in God never falls short.
Nowadays very rarely do we hear of blind faith in God, for rather than trust Him fully and completely, we try and do it on our own, content in the knowledge that He is there, if we fail. What many don't realize, that on our own, it's not whether or not we will fail, but rather when we will fail.
The Bible never tells us how long the ark was finished before the rains came, it does not specify how many weeks, or months, or years, the ark simply stood empty, completed, atop a hill for all the world to see, but when the signs were evident that it was time to enter therein, there was no delay, no wondering, just faith that God knew best, and trust in Him was never misplaced.
In order to be protected of God, one must retain blind faith in his heavenly Father, and obey His commands, no matter the cost. God will protect His chosen through the waves and storms of this world, even if the price is, at least for a season, public ridicule from those who do not know Him.
Be not discouraged when the world perceives you as odd, different, strange, unusual, or abnormal. Take joy in the knowledge that the end of your journey, the victory that is coming, will justify your blind faith in God. To put a new twist on an old saying, he who laughs last is still alive to laugh.
Hebrews 11:7, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."
Much can be said about this verse, deeper studies can be had, such as how exactly did Noah condemn the world by simply building an ark? What would have happened if he had not moved with godly fear? Was it only after he had proven obedience that he became an heir of righteousness? But these are all questions and topics for another day. Now, I go to sleep, and tomorrow, we begin the struggle anew.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Choose for Yourselves This Day

"The world promises things temporal and mean, and is served with great eagerness. God promises things most high and eternal, and the heart of mortals grow dull." Thomas A Kempis
It was the twilight of his life. Joshua was coming to the end of his journey here on earth. His life had not been easy, since early youth he had known battles and wars, but through it all he had also seen the hand of God at work. He had seen miraculous victories, and once, even the sun stand still. It had been a full life, and now he gathered the people of Israel unto himself to relay one last message, one last revelation to the nation. The message was short, to the point, and relevant to the spiritual condition in which Israel found itself.
Joshua 25:14-15, "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
When all is said and done, every man and woman must choose whom they serve. The son is not accountable for the sins of the father, nor is the father accountable for the sins of the son. The soul that sins will die.
Joshua knew, inspired of God that the people of Israel had not laid aside, had not put away the gods their fathers had served, and though they had crossed the river into the promised land, some still clung to dead gods, and false idols. Duplicity of heart is something most hated of God, especially in those who claim to be His children, for it births compromise, and brings about a shallow character willing to stand for absolutely nothing.
We have all crossed the river, from darkness to light, from death to life, but even so, some of us still cling to those things which can harm us, which can act as a stumbling block between ourselves, and the will and voice of God. In order for us to be complete in Him, there can be no hindrance; there can be nothing standing in the way of God perfecting His will in our lives.
Often, rather than let God empty us out, purge us with fire, then fill us with His Spirit, we have some things left over from before we crossed the river, that we keep moving from room to room, from nook to nook in our hearts, never allowing God to do away with them once and for all.
Just as we have a choice today, Israel had a choice. Because they chose to keep for themselves the idols and false gods of Egypt and the other places they conquered along the way, their history is one that is marked with great tragedies, great trials, and great tribulations.
Joshua knew whom he would serve. As far as himself and his house, they had chosen to serve the Lord, because they knew Him as the living God that watched over them, protected them, and went before them. Joshua knew what the one true God was offering, and subsequently what the strange gods were offering, and realized just how much the former was willing to pour out on His obedient servants, and how little the latter had to tempt with. God offers us eternal things, priceless in and of themselves, that cannot be purchased with silver or gold, but are freely given to those obedient hearts that learn to hear His voice, and obey His commandments. My heart aches at the thought that men today would rather hear of earthly excess, of financial breakthroughs and better self esteem techniques, than hear of the power of almighty God, the gifts that are readily at our disposal, and the glory into which His faithful can enter. The world offers so little, yet we desire it so much, and the only reason for this has to be that at least in part, we are still of the world.
It's troubling how knowing what God has done for us, that we would still consider the false gods of our past, that we would still entertain the idea of returning to the dead things that only brought us heartache and shame. Yet, men do so everyday, they return to the sins that once had them shackled in a prison of hopelessness, they return to the addictions that had before ruined their lives, because they never truly did away with them, they did not lay them aside, but believed, foolishly so, that the one true God, and the strange gods could somehow coexist.
Choose for yourselves this day. No one can make the choice for you, but you.
2 Peter 1:8-11, "For if these things are yours and abound, (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love) you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Therefore brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."


With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Decrease and Increase

John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease."
There is a massive movement underway in the modern church, encouraging believers to discover the strength in themselves, to discover the greatness, the warrior, the poet, to be self centered, to have self esteem, to possess a positive self image, even if the image we have of ourselves is far from the truth. It has been touted by some eloquent, and some less eloquent men, from various denominational pulpits, that we can do anything, unaided by a higher power, just as long as we focus, have positive thoughts, and practice positive affirmations.
The search for greatness, meaning or even relevance in oneself absent of any exterior forces has led many to great discouragement bordering on hopelessness, for sooner or later, all men discover that in and of themselves they are outright impotent in affecting positive change. Absent of God, man is unable to stand, to fight or to be that which God expects him to be.
The power lies not in self, the power lies in Christ, what He did on the cross, and this is where many a men have erred in their teaching and philosophy. In teaching a gospel absent of Christ, we teach a gospel absent of power, a power that is offered to us throughout the Word of God, if only we would submit to His will, and obey His voice.
Flesh and spirit cannot coexist in the same heart. They will always struggle for control or dominance, neither content to surrender, or give up. We cannot call a truce between this present flesh and the holiness to which God calls us, and any attempt to do so would suddenly translate us into the land of compromise, which God abhors in His children.
The truth is simple. We must decrease, that He may increase in us. A vessel can only hold so much. It is a universal law that you cannot fit ten ounces of water, in an eight ounce glass. The same principle must be applied to the human heart. There is only so much room, and in order for God to fill us with His Holy Spirit, room must be made, therefore there must be less of us.
The less of me there is, the less of the flesh that God finds in my heart, the more of Himself He can pour into me. The vessel will always hold the same amount; the only issue is the contents. What is your vessel holding? What is it you are filled with today?
Are we filled with self, with flesh, with mantras and quirky sayings, false hopes, inflated egos, pride and arrogance, or are we filled with the Spirit of the living God? The power of God makes the flesh wither. What was once a full grown man, becomes an atom, so that the power of the risen Christ may be glorified, that men see Him in us, His greatness, His goodness, His mercy, and His wisdom, nothing left of the flesh, nothing left of the old man.
When God makes His will known to us, and we humble ourselves, realizing our limitations, it is God that gives us the spiritual strength to obey.
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, calling him a mighty man of valor, Gideon knew that in and of himself he could be no such thing. Perhaps the angel had gotten the wrong address, perhaps it was the next wine press over he was trying to find, another young man threshing his wheat in secret, for fear of the Midianites sweeping down and taking it all.
Gideon even tried explaining this fact to the angel by saying, "Oh my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least of my father's house." It was then that the angel of the Lord revealed why Gideon was in fact the one whom God had chosen to save Israel.
Because he had decreased in his own eyes, because he saw himself as nothing more than the least in his father's house, it was God who would be with him, and it was by His power that the Midianites would be defeated as one man.
Upon recognition that it is the power of God working in us and through us that brings about the victory, that only by His strength we are able to stand and do battle, we can journey through this world with confidence, knowing that we have already obtained the victory in Him.
If you desire to do great exploits for God, the first thing you must do is decrease in your own eyes, that He may increase in you.
I ask no one to take a leap of faith and believe my words over the talking heads on their television screens, I ask only that you read your Bible and believe it, over my words and their words as well. The Word of God will never lead us astray, it will never lead us to desert places when we seek water, nor to barren lands when we seek food. It is the Bible that says we must decrease, that He may increase in us. This fact no longer makes the subject debatable. Once it has been established in the Word, it is no longer up for debate. The only thing left to do now, is to obey.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Knowing and The Doing

I know exercise is good for me, I've known it most of my adult life. I hear it praised every day, I know its benefits, I hear the testimonials of people whose lives have been forever changed by exercise, yet when it comes to the doing of exercise, it is a different story entirely.
Somehow, something always seems to come up at the last minute, even when I have every intention of getting some exercise. Whatever that something might be, I tell myself it is far more important than going for a jog, or throwing some weights around, and so the doing of exercise gets put off yet another day.
The knowing is easy. The doing is hard. Sunday after Sunday, or for the keepers of the Sabbath, Saturday after Saturday, we go to the same houses of worship, between the same hours, dressed differently than the other six days, Bible under one arm or in a purse whichever the case may be, with a light air of superiority, animated by the feeling of duty fulfilled. Although we don't come out and say it outright, just being in Church seems to elevate our self-image, making us feel better about ourselves. We sit through the songs, some off key, then the sermon, and often think to ourselves, 'well that was simplistic, I know that already. Why does he keep repeating stuff I already know?'
If per chance our conscience is awake and aware, at this moment in time, it may rebuke us by saying, 'you know, but do you do?' and blushing we justify our absence of doing that which we know, with an always timely, 'all have fallen short.'
The hour is upon us, when we must wake up, and acknowledge with all due sincerity of heart, that there is an ever widening chasm between what the church believes, and what it lives on a daily basis. The chasm has become so great, so pronounced, and visible that it will not be tolerated by He who is holy much longer.
The day of reckoning is coming it is almost upon us, when simply knowing and not doing will be seen for what it is, criminal and negligent, and punished accordingly. God is not mocked, a fact that many have conveniently forgotten in today's fast paced church world.
I have seen many a believer, far, far too many who use religious cosmetics to mask a character scarred and tired by so much duplicity. They say all the right things, quote all the right scriptures, yet something is amiss and it is clearly visible in their countenance. One who has divided loyalties, one who attempts to please both the world and God at the same time will please neither.
Our faith, our obedience, our devotion our worship, is an all or nothing proposition. Either we devote ourselves fully to the things of God, or we don't.
It is time to bridge the gap between the knowing and the doing, and no one can do this for you, or on your behalf. It is time to live what we believe, to do what we know, to know what we believe, and believe what we live.
The world readily spots the hypocrisy and duplicity of the modern church, and thus rather than being drawn to the light of the gospel, to the life of Christ, they are turned off to God because of His ambassadors.
It is a horrible thing indeed to be found guilty of causing a little one to be repulsed by the gospel, due to the inconsistency between our words and our life, rather than drawn to it. When God looks upon those who call themselves His children, He must find them pleasing in His sight. When we fail to do what we know, we are but mere Pharisees, with an uglier wardrobe than their priestly robes. The heart of every man is an open book to God, and in it He must find active obedience of His will.
In our hearts we know that we don't need new sermons, new ways of bringing across the simple message of the cross, or new means by which these messages can be transmitted to us, we need to do what we already know, we need to apply the word of God to our lives; to do what it tells us to do, and abstain from those things it tells us to abstain from.
The will of God is not a complicated matter, nor is the message of the gospel. We would however, rather hear a complicated and vertiginous message lasting hours, yet going nowhere, than submit to the simple message of God's Word.
The true message of the gospel, always brings our flesh face to face with the cross, and compels us to choose between repentance and restoration, or disobedience and death. Though men throughout the ages have attempted putting off the choice, one cannot delay it forever. Eventually all men must choose, all men must either do what they know, or admit, if only to themselves that they are living a lie, pretending to be something they are not.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Of Victory and Defeat Part 4

It always strikes me as interesting, when I write something meant for the collective, yet every individual perceives a certain line in an article, or a certain observation is speaking directly to them. I find it interesting, because not all are drawn to the same passage, or the same sentence, each one gleaning what is necessary for their spiritual growth. Although I write for the collective, for the body of Christ, God speaks to the individual, and I am humbled when i get e-mails and comments, which state that a certain passage spoke to them individually.
I realize this has been a somewhat longer study, in hindsight I probably should have posted it on the Hand of Help website, but since you can't 'unring' a bell, I will post the final installment of this teaching today.
If we analyze the Word in regards to this scripture, we come to realize that Joshua had merely repeated what he had done in regards to Jericho, sending in spies to survey the land, and to get an idea of the strength of the enemy. While his first scouts were sent by the will of God, this same act has now become a purely human action, a reaction of the flesh.
Why would I say such a thing? Because when the first spies returned from Jericho, they said to Joshua, 'Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.'
If the Lord had already delivered all the land into their hands, why send scouts out again, why send spies to Ai, for it was part of the same nation as Jericho?
In some measure, whether great or small we cannot know, it seems Joshua had forgotten dependence on God, and began to trust in the strength of his army and his mighty men. Joshua found an excuse to trust in the flesh rather than God.
Since the old adage, 'as the head goes so does the body' held true even then, Joshua's warriors began to trust in themselves and in their own strength as well. Surely if such a famed city as Jericho had been so easy to overtake, the few men of Ai would be no problem at all. Why bring all the people, when a fraction of us will suffice? Two or three thousand men, they thought to themselves, and it will be quick work, another city conquered, vanquished and overtaken.
There was one other thing working against the people of Israel, not merely their self reliance, or self dependence. In a nondescript tent, a man by the name of Achan was busy burying a Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, some of those accursed things, which God had warned they should not touch, believing that no one would know, no one would see, and no one would be the wiser. The garment had been so beautiful, the silver so tempting, the gold so shiny, surely it won't harm anyone, and surely God is reasonable, and loving, and understanding. 'Yes, yes, I remember something about slow to anger too, no worries, but just in case, I'll bury them for a season, just to make sure', Achan thought.
God had cursed the city of Jericho, and by association everything within its walls. All but Achan were afraid to touch the forbidden things, the accursed things, for fear of bringing the wrath of God upon Israel, but Achan saw, and he desired, he coveted the possessions of the accursed city, though he knew in his hear the was not supposed to. The temptation was too great, perhaps if it was just the garment, or just the silver, but all three, in one place, Achan couldn't resist, he saw, he coveted, and he couldn't turn away, giving in to his desires. He did not consider the ramifications of his disobedience, all he saw before him were the garments that he would wear so haughtily, the silver and the gold that would fulfill his desire, the man he would become once all these were his, not realizing he was nothing more than a slave of his flesh.
The sin of one man has now influenced the outcome of an entire nation, as well as the attack on the city of Ai. The disobedience of one, compounded by the pride of the many, has now caused the mighty warriors of Israel to flee in fear from the handful of men protecting Ai.
Sometimes it takes a crushing defeat to remind us of humility, of righteousness, of sanctification, and of Christ. Sometimes it takes a seemingly inconsequential event, which snowballs into an ever-growing monster, to bring us to our knees, to cause us to seek the face of God.
Joshua had finally seen, even though it had taken a defeat at Ai, he had finally seen the error of his way, and tearing his clothes, fell to the earth on his face, before the ark of the Lord until evening, both he and the elders of Israel, putting dust on their heads.
Where was the ark of the Lord during their battle with the citizens of Ai, this ark before which the cities of Jericho had fallen? Too often we live with the expectation of victory, even though we left God behind, somewhere along the way. If God does not go before us, our defeat is guaranteed, even if the obstacle before us seems more like a nuisance than a real obstacle.
Joshua finally acknowledges the ark's worth, but even so, his reaction at Israel's defeat is questionable and shows weakness.
Joshua 7:7, "And Joshua said, 'Alas Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all - to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!"
This blessed place, this promised land, is the only place that Joshua desired to flee from, lamenting that Israel should have been content and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan. What preoccupies Joshua now, is not the will of God, or why Israel was allowed to be defeated, but rather the name of Israel, what he would do when Israel turns its back before its enemies, the Canaanites, and at long last God's great name.
Too often we are preoccupied with our own image, too often we are preoccupied with what people will think of us, or how we will be viewed by others, rather than search our hearts and discover what it is that God desires us to burn, or what area in our lives does not bring glory to His name.
God's command today, is the same as it was for the people of Israel during Joshua's time, to sanctify ourselves before Him, to burn every wicked thing, to turn our back on the world and the things of the world, that we might have fellowship with Him.
The sin was discovered in the camp, Achan had taken that which was accursed, and only after those tings were burned, and Achan was stoned along with his family, did God relent form His righteous anger against His people.
The message of the hour, is to be merciless with the sin we discover in the camp, as well as in our own lives, to live in a continual desire of sanctification, and an ongoing process of purification toward God.
There is so much more that can be gleaned from the book of Joshua, wisdom and knowledge, direction for every soul, but for now I leave you with the grace and peace o four loving Father.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Of Victory and Defeat Part 3

I got stuck in a blizzard yesterday. It was bad, perhaps the second worst blizzard I've ever been in. The icy roads, and the pounding snow mixed with ice, made it impossible to travel more than twenty, twenty five miles per hour tops. I had to go to Chicago to pick up a package for my brother's mother in law, to take to Romania. By the way, I will be leaving for Romania on the 14th of December. I will still be posting articles, but it is doubtful it will be with such regularity. Well, what took me two hours getting there, took me over five coming back. When I began my journey, it was warm and sunny, but within the span of three hours, the whole of Wisconsin had turned into a winter wonderland.
I noticed something odd yesterday. Although one could barely control their vehicles going far below the speed limit, there were those brave or foolish souls, I tend to lean toward foolish, that paid no mind to the conditions, and just whizzed by the rest of us reasonable folk who were crawling along. These weren't Jeeps or Explorers, mostly two door sports cars, or four door family cars, and after a few minutes you would see one, then another of the daredevils stuck in the snow banks, or worse. The reason I share this story, is to make a point. Often we want to reach our destination in as short a time as possible, paying no mind to the conditions around us. Our goal is firmly planted in our minds, our destination is sure, and although everyone else is taking their time, coming along naturally, organically, in God's time table, we are not content to wait with the pack, and we run ahead before we are ready. Sooner or later, we see those that crawled along, those we scoffed at for being chicken, passing us, as we are stuck in the snowbanks, waiting for the tow truck to come and pull us out. Spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, spiritual gifts, are all a process, sometimes slow and agonizing, as we are constantly stripping ourselves of ourselves, so that we can make room for God. The wise man waits patiently upon the Lord, until He finds him ready, while the foolish man steps out on his own, thinking himself ready. Sometimes the path we travel gets icy, snowfall makes visibility impossible, and rather than trudge along at our own pace, hoping to make it to our destination of our own strength and volition, it is wiser by far to slow down, and let God take us by the hand, lead us and guide us. He knows where the icy patches are, and in His wisdom He slows us down so we don't careen off the path, and get stuck in a certain place longer than was intended.
Back to Israel we go, to see what we can learn and apply to our daily lives, and our daily walk.
Thus far we've established that it was God who brought down the walls of Jericho. Weapons would have been useless against them, and the people knew this. God had done everything, and no man could have taken credit for the walls of Jericho crashing to the ground leaving the way open for the warriors to sack the city, and destroy everything within its walls. Unless it is God's victory, unless we let Him direct, guide, and provide the means by which we will overcome our Jericho, our victory will never be complete. When we attempt to insert ourselves, or take a little credit for what God has done, it nullifies to a certain extent what He was able to accomplish.
It is often that God uses vessels that are of no particular value in the eyes of the world, and if they are of any significant value, He begins by breaking them asunder, as He did Saul of Tarsus and rebuilding them anew. It is only after God is done refining, remodeling and molding a vessel that He can say, 'this is My chosen vessel, he can be of use to Me.'
Too often the way in which we as men would approach a battle, a trial or a conflict is very different than how God would approach it. We tend to employ our own ingenuity, our own programs and our own schemes even before approaching God, and asking for His guidance or advice. Ah, we have happened upon an excellent method by which we can grow the church, we are well organized, have devised dozens of programs to keep everyone interested, we have sent missionaries to every corner of the world, to every continent, we project, we foresee, we estimate, and it becomes all about us, and what we can do, and what we can achieve. We take comfort in knowing that God is there, just in case we need Him, just in case there happens to be an obstacle that is beyond our ingenuity, but as long as we think we can do it on our own, we prefer that He be an observer and nothing more.
What if Israel would have said, 'it is well that the power belongs to the Lord, and the victory is His, but we must focus upon the means by which we can scale the walls of Jericho, by which we can bring them down, perhaps a battering ram, or some hammers and chisels', would the walls of Jericho ever have come down? What would they have witnessed on the seventh day, after the seventh march around Jericho if they had trusted in their own strength rather than the strength of God?
Israel obtained the victory the walls of Jericho came crashing down, because they had faith in the God who had brought them thus far, they obeyed His direction. Upon their entry into the city the people were given specific instruction yet again, the first, was to destroy the city and all who were in it, sparing only Rahab the harlot and all who were in her house. The second specific instruction was that they should, by all means keep themselves from the accursed things, lest they become accursed when they took of the accursed thing, and by association make the camp of Israel a curse and trouble it. All the gold, the silver, all the iron, were to be set apart consecrated to the Lord, and be brought to the treasury of the Lord.
Fresh off an astounding and decided victory against Jericho, Joshua set his sights upon Ai, a much smaller city than that of Jericho, an insignificant obstacle, located beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel.
God had kept His promise, Jericho had been sacked, but unbeknownst to Joshua, one man had disobeyed God's specific instruction, one man had kept that which he had not been meant to keep. All but one obeyed, all but one committed a trespass regarding the accursed things. Due to one man's disobedience however, we will soon witness a defeat rather than a victory, even though the people of Israel faced a less powerful foe, and a weaker enemy.
A small city, and few people were able to set three thousand men to flight, striking them down, and causing their hearts to become melted, and like water.
But I get ahead of myself. In order to understand just how disastrous this defeat was in light of the victory they had just gloried in, one must understand that upon the scouts' return from spying on the city of Ai, they had told Joshua that he shouldn't march the whole of Israel up to the city, for it would just weary all the people. Ai was just a handful of souls, which would be easily vanquished with two or three thousand men.
There are secrets to defeat, just as there are secrets to victory and the first danger for the believer is found in the very victories in which he often glories. After a victory has been had, due to a true dependence and reliance upon God, the flesh, seeing the positive results begins to believe that it can now do on its own what the soul believed was only accomplished by the power of God. Once the flesh overpowers the spirit, a person is deceived into believing he can do anything, that his attributes and strengths extend beyond what he should by now know are his limits, the battle is already lost before even the first blow is struck.
Tomorrow we discuss the secret of Israel's defeat before Ai, and how God views sin within a body, rather than how we as men may view it.
If I can talk my wife into it, I'm off to have a snowball fight, then go do the radio program. God bless, and for those of you in the tundra, also known as Wisconsin and the neighboring states, stay warm.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Of Victory and Defeat Part 2

Hebrews 12:30, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days."
Now we all know how the Bible defines faith, as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen, it is one of those verses that everyone seems to have memorized, but very few truly understand. faith is confidence, and implicit trust in something other than oneself, namely God. At the same time it is the complete absence of trust and confidence in oneself, or in one's flesh. These two notions must be symbiotic, the absence of confidence in flesh, and complete confidence in God, for our faith to be effective.
Faith is enough to make the walls to come crashing down. Faith is unconcerned with how high the walls might be, or how fortified the battlements, because it trusts in the power of God.
It is when our faith is in the wisdom of men, rather than the power of God, that we seem to be tilting at windmills in our spiritual walk, rather than confronting the darkness that threatens to overwhelm. We focus on distractions, rather than on Christ, and follow the words of mere mortals than the words of the eternal Creator of all. We keep laying siege to the walls of Jericho without seeing a crack in the fortifications, then wonder why we can make no progress, why the Promised Land is always beyond our reach, why the giants in the land seem bigger and meaner with every retelling of the story.
It is because we choose not to learn the lessons of those that came before us, that we often find ourselves stuck in the repetitive loop of lukewarm, and immature Christianity, choosing to follow the well-worn paths of a great majority practicing a powerless faith, rather than venturing higher, finding the less traveled paths that lead to the fullness of God's promise toward His children.
Israel did not look upon the walls of Jericho and say, 'why waste seven days, why wear ourselves out by walking around the city when we can take it by force?', because they realized this battle would be won by entirely supernatural means, only by the power of God. Only God can remove the obstacles before us, and it is in the power of our heavenly Father that our faith must reside.
When God promises victory, he leaves nothing to chance. The orders of what Israel needed to do in order to obtain victory over Jericho were so precise, that it left no room for men to take the glory or the credit for themselves, it left no doubt as to whom had planned to the most minute of details, and executed to perfection the bringing down of Jericho's walls.
Israel did not choose the weapons, or the ram's horns, they did not choose to walk around Jericho, or how many times they were to do it, they did not need to trouble themselves with how they would obtain the victory, the simply had to obey in order to obtain it. God had preordained everything it was up to the people to simply follow directions.
Faith merely submits to the preordained order of God, and uses the measures and methods, which He established by which victory would be obtained. Faith does not invent the means for victory; faith obeys God's direction for victory.
But brother, we need committees, we need synods, we need money, we need budget meetings, we need fund raising schemes, we need empty promises, we need compromise, they will say. Man might need these things, but faith has no use, or need of them. God has His ways, God has His means, God has His provision.
Yes, we know all that, we've been in church long enough to know that God has His ways, and He makes a way, even when there seems to be no way, but why can't He make the way easier? Why can't He simplify it? Why all these complications?
Why march around the city once a day for six days, not just the priests, or a few men, but all the men of war, and why do it seven times on the seventh day? What is the significance? What does it mean? Why couldn't we just do it once and be done with it?
I realize some of you are waiting, bated breath for some hyper spiritual insight that will answer all those questions, but the simple truth, is that faith does not ask why. Faith does not start mapping out success ration charts, it doe snot have strategy outlines, faith accepts the means by which God promised He would provide the victory, obeys, and obtains victory. faith had proven itself before, whether on Passover, or during the crossing of the Red Sea, and so the people had intimate knowledge of what it meant to have faith in the promises of God, as well as how important obedience was, even in the most minute of details.
Now, brother, are you trying to say that faith has no reason? Aren't you the guy who always said, that God was a God of reason, and logic? No, I am not saying faith has no reason, I am saying that faith submits first, and understands later. If faith would attempt to understand before it submits, then it would no longer be faith, it would be reason.
Abraham did not know the outcome, he did not understand why he had to bring his son on a three day journey, only to sacrifice him to God, but he had faith, he trusted in God, and in the end he saw the reason, he understood not only the journey, but the motive for the journey, also receiving a reward for his obedience.
faith will tell you of the seven days, of the ark of the Lord, of the multitudes, of the trumpets, of the shouts of joy, but it will only tell you of these things after it has submitted.
Faith marches ever onward, dependent on the promise of God, the promise that the walls of Jericho would fall, and the city would be taken. Then, faith is tested!
I cannot say how joyful the people of Israel were, marching around the walls of Jericho on the first day, but I can say with certainty that they were even less joyful on the sixth day of their march, when nothing had as yet happened. The Word does not tell us that the people began to murmur, I guess they'd already learned their lessons about murmuring from their fathers, but it is very likely that there was some rolling of the eyes, on that sixth day, when the blisters were at their peak, and they'd had no rest, and still nothing had happened. Not a crack, not a hairline fracture in any of the walls, just the walking, and the blaring trumpets, and the carrying of the ark.
Although God had laid out the entire plan to Joshua, he shared it with the people piecemeal. All he told them was to take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets, and walk around the city without saying a word. One of these days, he would tell them to shout, but until such a time, all were supposed to be silent.
Joshua was sharing information on a need to know basis, and although he knew that on the seventh day the wall of the city would fall flat, the people did not.
After six days of marching around the city once, and then returning to their camp, on the seventh day, Joshua rose early, with the dawn, and informed the people that they would be marching around the city not one, but seven times. Finally, on the seventh march around the city, while the priests blew their trumpets, Joshua said to the people, 'Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!'
It was only when the people were brought up to speed on the entire story, that their faith was rewarded with not only seeing the fulfillment of God's promise, but also with the understanding of why they had to do, what they had to do.
It seems this study is too long to finish in this post, and so tomorrow, we continue the journey of Joshua, Jericho, and a little place called Ai will soon be brought to the forefront.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Me On The Radio

Sometime ago, one of you asked me to post whenever I would be on the radio again. Since my next radio interview is broadcast in Paltalk, as well as internet radio, it should pretty much be accessible to everyone, everywhere.
I will be on brother David Eels's program, entitled 'The Unleavened Bread Bible Study' This Sunday, December 2, at 7:30 CST
If you are so inclined, please go to WWW.AmericasLastDays.com, and follow the handy links they have provided, to hear the show live.
It's going to be a long one. He said I have three hours, but I think I'll be content with two. They televise the third hour, and since I'll be in the hand of help office in Wisconsin, and they're in Florida, I don't see how the third hour will work out.
Consider it a blessing. I'm not that much to look at.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Of Victory and Defeat Part 1

The blank screen mocks me, again. Some days are easier than others. Some days the words just flow, other days you have to wrestle them to the earth, and beat them into submission. I dip the ladle into the gray matter, to see what will come to the surface, what will catch my attention this day. A long ago memory of a boy, a piggy bank, and the first present he bought his mother with his own money surfaces, her acid burned hands holding the purple scarf, a bone deep weariness etched on her face from the long hours of scrubbing the bathrooms and kitchens of the rich. She did it to put food on the table, to feed me and my brothers, somehow I knew that even at the fragile age of 10. The chemicals had burned her hands, it was not the first time. Even so I would give anything to feel those calloused hands again, stroking my cheek, to see that weary smile. I wipe a rogue tear from my face. I don't know how it got there. Too personal, still too raw, perhaps another time, I look back into the ladle and I see a word floating upon the ripples.
Before I can see it clearly the voices commence, yes the flesh is hung upon a tree, but it can still speak sometimes. "Why are you wasting your life this way? Why are you trying to bring light to those who have grown accustomed to the darkness, a trouble maker is what you are. Write something less controversial, your wife deserves better than working until three in the morning. Don't you want to be a success?"
As was the case with Christ's temptation, there is an ounce of truth in the enemy's lie, but a fragment does not a whole make. I rebuke the voice, and it grows silent. Finally, that place of stillness, between the torments of the things I have seen and as yet cannot share, and the things I have shared that too few heed, I find myself in the eye of the storm that is life. Stillness reigns, and I see the word clearly for the first time: Jericho.
Jericho stood before the people of Israel, as the one obstacle that terrified them. This city with its fortified walls was the one thing standing in the way of their conquest of Canaan. If not for the Man that Joshua had seen, the selfsame Man that had His sword drawn in His hand, He who had come as Commander of the army of the Lord, perhaps Israel would have retreated in silence, and defeat, perhaps they would have realized their impotence when it came to breaching the walls of Jericho.
Alas, the Man had appeared, standing beside Joshua, and after introducing Himself as the Commander of the Lord's army, proceeded to tell Joshua to take off his sandals, for the place where he stood was holy.
A solemn promise had been made, not by the lips of men, but by the mouth of the Lord, wherein Jericho, its king, and its mighty men of valor would be given into Joshua's hands. the man who had been commissioned to take the place of Moses, in the estimation of most, impossible shoes to fill, now stood on the promise of God, emboldened and encouraged by the fact that he was merely taking orders from the One who was in word and deed commander of the armies of the Lord.
If we perceive this account of Jericho in a spiritual sense, we soon come to realize that every believer must stand before the walls of their own personal Jericho, just as every believer must conquer it, that he may enter into possession of the promise, and walk in the fulfillment of his calling.
There is always that one obstacle that overshadows all others in our walk, that seemingly impenetrable fortress that the enemy has erected.
Physical Jericho was imposing to say the least. The people of Jericho had made preparations because of the children of Israel, they saw the danger approaching and so the city had been securely shut up, with none going out and none coming in.
Just as to the physical eye the conquest of Jericho seemed like an impossible endeavor, often the strongholds that stand in the way of our walking int he will of God, seem just as imposing. Men often find reason to fear, to doubt, to turn back, or to stop moving forward, and by doing so they fall into the snare of the enemy.
None of us can avoid confronting the walls of Jericho, at least once in our lives. You know what your Jericho is, and for every believer it is something different, but in the end, it can all be summed up in the word, obstacle. It is that moment of being weighed in the balance, even before we are confronted with battle, even before the first blow is struck, even before the first enemy is engaged.
Your Jericho is mean tot keep you from moving forward, from seeing the victory that God can give you, your Jericho is meant to cause you to retreat, to attempt and justify desertion by pointing out all the earthly things you might have lost if you would have stood in the gap, if you would have drawn your sword and advanced on the enemy before you. Perhaps you would have endangered a relationship with a loved one, perhaps you might have lost your job, perhaps you might have had to leave a body of believers with which you had grown comfortably lethargic, whatever it might have been, if you chose retreat, Jericho won, you were defeated, and every time you approach the walls thereafter, they will seem thicker, taller, bigger, and even more impenetrable.
One who sees that he does not stand in his own strength however, but rather int he strength of almighty God, does not retreat when faced with difficulty. A true servant of God sees the walls of Jericho as a challenge to be sure, but a challenge that could be overcome, for he knows there is a means by which the walls can be brought down, and he uses it.
There is one means by which the walls of both physical and spiritual Jericho can be brought down, unique and unequaled, and that means is the exercise and implementation of faith. We know that it was not by the hands of men that the walls of Jericho came crashing down, but due to their faith int he promises of God.
Tomorrow we discuss faith, and how we must exercise our faith in order to overcome our Jericho.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A God Sanctioned Murder

Warning: The following post is symbolic; please don't rush to your telephone to call the police informing them that you would like to report a murder!

Galatians 5:22, "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
1 Corinthians 15:31, "I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

I have a confession, I killed a man today. It was not the first time, and it will not be the last. In fact yesterday, and the day before, and they day before that I killed the same man. The man was me, I hung him on a cross, and I nailed him to a tree.
With the dawning of each new day, I stand, hammer and nails in hand confronting the flesh that somehow manages to survive every time, and as per God's order, I crucify it. Each day is the same, yet different, every time I stand over the mirror image of myself, ready to strike, it pleads and attempts to beguile, the syrupy voice asking me to let him go, 'no one will know' he whispers, 'there is so much I can do for you, you don't know your potential, but I know it. It doesn't have to be this way, we can coexist.'
Before he can utter another word, I strike. My aim is true, I've had lots of practice, and practice makes perfect. He does not scream, in fact he doesn't make a sound, if not for the flash of anger in his eyes, like lighting across a clear blue sky, I would wonder if he even knew what was happening, or if he felt the sting of the nail in his palm.
The first strike is always the most difficult. The rest of the task has become habitual, and I go to work without delay. 'It's still not too late', he says, 'you can still let me go, I won't be mad.'
I turn and leave the flesh hanging there, nailed to the cross, knowing that tomorrow we will meet again, and once more he will attempt to beguile me, and I must be strong enough to resist.
Life is a daily struggle, and the mortification of the flesh is a constant in the life of every believer. Merciless as it may sound, knowing that the smallest of compromises will cause the flesh to overtake the spirit, we must not give in, make no concessions, and allow no negotiation.
The flesh is a liar, no matter what it promises, no matter how it attempts to deter you from your spiritual walk, always remember it is the flesh's job to attempt and deceive you, to drag you back to the mire from which you were plucked and cleansed by the blood of Christ.
Some days are easier than others, some days rather than spend an hour in prayer, it is necessary to spend three hours in supplication before the heavenly Father, until the fact that the flesh has been crucified for the day is a certainty, beyond doubt.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.