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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Spiritual Maturity

I've been writing extensively on spiritual maturity as of late, it's necessity in the Christian walk, our need to grow, to press ever onward toward the prize. Since I will be out of the country for seven days starting tomorrow, I've decided to post a somewhat longer writing, an excerpt from the soon to be published prophetic times magazine on the Christian walk. Thank you all for your prayers, and for your concern for each other, it shows in action, what it is to be a bond servant of Christ, and a member of God's family.
Mention spiritual maturity to some, and they will react as though you’ve happened upon a sinister and taboo topic. Others consider spiritual maturity a topic for the elders of the church, the evangelists and the preachers, those in leadership, in any case, not for them. In order to achieve spiritual maturity, sacrifice is required of the individual, and too many consider that throwing some loose change in the offering plate every service is sacrifice enough. Contrary to popular belief, spiritual maturity is not reserved only for the select few in leadership, but is a requirement and necessity for every individual who has yoked themselves to Christ, and began their journey toward perfection, sanctification, and the deeper mysteries of God. Just as growing and maturing physically is a natural process of this present life, so is growing and maturing spiritually. When one remains in a state of spiritual infancy, he becomes easy prey for the wolves and the enemy that roam about, looking for their next victim, the next soul they can corrupt, and the next heart they can defile.
The Word continually encourages us to grow, to pursue the deeper things, to ascend from grace to grace, and from glory to glory. Our journey is a process, wherein we are weaned off milk, and begin to consume solid food, and we begin to hear the voice of God for ourselves, understand the Word for ourselves, and eventually stop relying on surrogates to nourish us spiritually.
Many a soul should be further along in their spiritual maturity than they are, and the constant reaffirmations by some in Christian leadership that growth is not necessary, is largely to blame for this spiritually underdeveloped generation.
In his letter to the Hebrews, apostle Paul addressed just such a deficiency and lack of spiritual maturity. He reproved them for their lack of growth, and for their need to continue consuming milk rather than solid food.
Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”

Childhood is beautiful. The carefree days spent doing trivial things, the wonder of it all as we discover the world beyond our front door, the excitement of the first day of school, the rush of our first schoolyard tussle. The list goes on and on, the memories growing more vivid the further along we came into maturity, the sense that each new day was a new chapter, which held a new discovery, a new experience, something worth looking forward to.
As all things temporal must, the season of our childhood passes. We are children for a blink of an eye, then comes the part time job, then the full time job, marriage, mortgages, car loans, pension plans and family doctors. A child cannot remain a child forever. One cannot be forever young, forever carefree, forever absent of responsibility or maturity. If one remains in a constant state of infancy, eventually the parents grow worried, concerned, perturbed, and seek help realizing something is very wrong. The child that should have grown hasn’t grown, he is not maturing at the same rate and speed as the others are, and this is a reason for concern for most parents.
Discipleship is necessary but if its time passes, and the disciple does not become skilled, if he is not well on his way to mastering his skill, it is all in vain, an exercise in futility. We are Disciples of Christ, because our desire is to one day be like Him. The desire of every true believer is to one day be like His master. We are daily formed, daily molded, daily chiseled, and daily matured, allowing the nature of Christ to take hold, to shine in us and through us.
This present life requires growth, whether physical or spiritual. It is necessary, mandatory, and a natural law. If growth and progress are not found, if we become bogged down in a state of static existence, wherein we are not moving forward in our faith, we can no longer hope to ascend to the greater things of God. Only by spiritual growth are we entrusted with greater responsibility, greater power, greater revelation, and greater intimacy. A spiritually mature man or woman realizes the true value of their relationship with God, and they nurture it, they protect it, being watchful not to allow any stumbling blocks to stand in the way.
A spiritually mature soul has gone beyond the first principles of the oracles of God. They have laid the foundation, and now they are building the temple. One must learn the first principles, first, but always strive go grow beyond the first principles of the oracles of God. One cannot bypass the first principles, and hope to gain instant understanding of the deeper mysteries of God. As the old adage states, first things, always come first.
In many instances we can view our spiritual growth as a ladder. One cannot climb to the top of the ladder, unless he has started out on the bottom rung. Each rung of the ladder has its own relevance, its own importance, because with each step we take we ascend higher to our desired goal. Many souls climb the first few rungs, and then settle comfortably, thinking there are no more rungs to the ladder. Three feet off the grown, and some already believe they’ve ascended to the highest highs of God’s wisdom, knowledge and glory.
By adopting the mindset that we have already attained, when we have not attained, that we have already achieved when we have not achieved, we grow complacent, stagnant, indifferent, and great only in our own minds. When such a mindset worms its way into a heart, it quickly becomes unreachable, for one who already believes he knows all there is to know, can no longer be taught.
It becomes a chain reaction of events, that lead up to the sin of pride springing up in the heart, and we become blinded by our own self proclaimed genius, no longer willing to take direction even if that direction happens to come directly from the Word of God.
Though many ought to be teachers by now, their own self-destructive tendencies and the pride they allowed to take root in their hearts make them need milk once more rather than solid food, and makes it necessary for them to reacquaint themselves with the basic principles, and first oracles of God.
A spiritual walk has its own natural progression. Spiritual growth comes about naturally when we humble ourselves and strive to grow in God. It is the Father’s good pleasure to see us grow and mature, to see constancy in our spiritual journey. In order to attain what He has for us, we must become what He desires us to be.
A Christian who has remained in a state of spiritual infancy, is not troubled by the sin in his life. He has as yet not come to realize the dangers of sin, just as a baby has not realized the dangers of touching a hot stove, or sticking its fingers in the wall socket. There are certain things we perceive only when we are older, just as there are spiritual matters we perceive only when we have matured spiritually.
One lacking spiritual maturity is readily adamant in defending his doctrine, or theology, even if it contradicts the Scripture. Pride does not allow him to see the truth, and so he presses on in his ignorance attempting to bring others to his way of thinking.
The telltale signs of an immature Christian are plentiful and easy to detect if one knows what they are looking for.
The life of an immature Christian is a life of defeats, absent of peace, absent of balance, and absent of joy. An immature Christian cannot overcome, for he trusts in his own strength. He has as yet, not surrendered himself in his entirety to the will of God, and inevitably suffers the consequences of disobedience.
Romans 7:20, “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

One, who is spiritually immature, does not possess the fruit of the Spirit. He is a barren tree, producing no fruit. The spiritually immature soul is always aided, and learning from others, never coming to the knowledge of truth on his own. There are always crutches, security blankets, surrogates, for he is unable to consume solid food.
Another telltale sign of an immature Christian is that he is always suspicious. An immature Christian is always in pursuit of his own self-interests. He is in constant search of vainglory and chooses not to see the good or the nobility in others. His desire is only for himself, his own honor and his own praise.
The life of an immature Christian is also formalistic and hypocritical. Rather than serve God, he uses God, as though He were some benevolent genie ready to grant every wish and desire of the heart. His interest is not in establishing a relationship, or intimacy with the heavenly Father, but to profit from the acquaintance, feigning worship only inasmuch as it will aid him in achieving his desired result.
What I find interesting is that in his epistle to the Hebrews Paul’s first warning was concerning dangers of neglect, his second warning concerning the dangers of unbelief, and his third and final warning concerning the danger of not maturing. Once the have passed the first two hurdles in their spiritual journey, many souls succumb to the third, remaining in a state of spiritual infancy whereby they are unable to enter into the blessings of God. It is not enough to give earnest heed to the things we have heard, nor is it enough to believe, we must also grow in God, mature spiritually that we may ascend from being mere babes in Christ, to being soldiers for Christ.
To know the nature of Christ, both physical and spiritual is considered a first principle, a truth, which we learn in the beginning of our walk with Him. To know him as our great High Priest, perpetually merciful and faithful, is a deeper truth we come to know only as we grow in God.
There are many believers who are satisfied with the fact that they have received forgiveness of sins, that their conduct is somewhat better than those of the world, and that they have access to the eternal. What more could a soul want? Is this not enough? When we adopt the mentality that we can be satisfied in the knowledge we already retain, that we have traveled far enough wherein we can afford to take a break, to slumber a little, to rest of our weariness, we run the risk of losing everything.
To me, the book of Hebrews is a cautionary tale; a warning to all who have spiritual ears to hear, that we ought not grow lazy, slothful, indifferent, or satisfied, that we ought not neglect so great a salvation. Ever onward should be our battle cry, and as faithful servants we ought not allow anything to keep us from growing in Christ.
Only by growing in knowledge and understanding can we perceive the beauty that is the deeper mystery of God. Only then can we begin to understand the full work of Christ’s blood not only on earth, but that it opened the doorway to heaven, to the eternal, wherein we can dwell in the holy place, in constant fellowship with Him.
It is lamentable that having so much accumulated knowledge in our present generation, concerning all that encompasses the Word, spirituality, theology, doctrine, the work of the Holy Spirit, and anything having to do with God, we still remain so ignorant concerning the greater things of God. It’s not a lack of materials we suffer from, nor is it the lack of the Word, for it is plentiful, it is lack of true desire and purpose to know the fullness of He who redeemed us from darkness and death.
Yes, by now we ought to be teachers, we ought to be ambassadors, we ought to have the ability and desire to passionately tell others of the saving grace that is found in Christ Jesus. It is the duty of every believer to become a teacher, a confessor, a light, a testimony, to be salt, an emissary of Christ here on earth. When the love of Christ fills a heart, it does so to overflowing. It is tragic that so rarely do we see the overflow in the lives of believers, that so many are content with the status quo, and so few desire more of God in their lives.
It saddens God to see so many of His children dependent, waiting to be fed, and so few feeding others. It is a state of sickly infancy, of spiritual immaturity, and it is not beneficial to anyone. Most often this condition is allowed to perpetuate itself due to the false beliefs so many have concerning salvation, considering it only a selfish means of security, covering their bases just in case. They never grow to know God in the intimate way He desires to be known, they never pursue or desire spiritual gifts, because all they really wanted was to know they were getting into heaven. They raised their hand, said the sinner’s prayer, and for far too many, this is sufficient, it is enough, no more labor or sacrifice needed. If our only reason for coming to God, was to escape eternal punishment, if love does not overflow in our hearts, and we feel no empathy for those who are lost in the world, we are still babes in Christ, in need of being taught again, the first principles of the oracles of God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Undiscovered

Judging by the mass quantity of books on spiritual living and spiritual growth being published, as though some invisible conveyor belt was constantly bringing new ones to the surface almost daily, one would hazard the thought that for the past two thousand years all who have come before us have missed the mark when it comes to spirituality. It would seem that for millennia the real secrets to a victorious life in Christ, to spiritual maturity and spiritual growth lay undiscovered, waiting, hoping, that one day a brave soul would unearth them. We’ve become enchanted with steps, three steps for this, six steps for that, twelve steps for the more difficult issues in our lives, and have come to believe that by dealing with a fragment, we are able to affect the whole.
I used to laugh at billboards and commercials that promised I would lose thirty pounds in three days with just one pill, or that I would have six pack abs if only I would connect some electrodes to my stomach and in essence electrocute myself repeatedly. The world is built around unrealistic expectations; we feed ourselves with fables and indulge in self-deception. So many want to believe the lie so vehemently, that all they need is an outlet, a reason, unrealistic as it might be. This pill will make me thin overnight? This brand of telephone will make me instantly popular? This toothpaste will make me sleep better at night? Bring it on. Small investments it would seem bring big rewards. At least that’s what they would like us to believe. Illusion is a growth industry in today’s age, and the biggest growth industry by far is spiritualized self-help, wherein one is promised all of life’s many problems will be solved with just minor changes in your life.
So did Paul and Peter, John and Luke, Matthew and Mark, and perhaps even Christ miss the mark when it came to discovering the keys to spiritual growth? Some Christian authors are so full of themselves, so blinded by the illusions of grandeur, and over confident concerning their own insights, that they really believe they’ve happened upon something new. Usually the key to unlocking the spiritual giant within you is something small, which will invariably change the course of your destiny. Whether forming a new habit, or adopting a mantra, understanding God in three easy steps, reading one of their recommended books, or repeating a prayer uttered by a someone in the Bible, men today are trying to sell us on the idea that just by doing one thing we can make our fragmented and compartmentalized lives whole again.
If that one thing which you are attempting to do in order to make your life whole again is not total surrender and obedience to God, if it is not the denial and crucifixion of the flesh and submission to the Father’s will, somewhere down the line the mantras and the new habits will invariably fail you. There are no simple solutions to complex problems; there are no shortcuts on the narrow path of faith.
We must reacquaint ourselves with the idea that something costs more, because it’s worth it, and some things don’t go on sale no matter how long you wait for the discount. A fulfilling life in Christ requires more than good habits, or a fragment of your life, it requires more than fellowship between certain hours of the morning, it requires our all, in perpetuity. The life of faith is all consuming, either we surrender ourselves in totality to it, or we are not in the least bit surrendered. The life of faith is more complex than some author lets on, or leads us to believe. It is not an interconnected patchwork of good habits, but a whole, un fragmented and must be approached as such.
As human beings we were created in such a way, that even our bodies tell us we cannot ensure the entire body’s physical health just by clipping our toenails. We are a whole, and as such can only function as whole. We cannot surrender one area of our lives to God, and expect our entire lives to undergo some spiritual domino effect. We cannot say Lord I surrender my finances to you, but I can take care of everything else. God does not deal in half measures; He does not make deals or give in to the flesh’s demands to have control. We either surrender and submit wholly, or we are as rebellious and disobedient children.
So is this newly discovered revelation? Are all these books that promise to unlock your spirituality worth the paper they are printed on? Hardly. Just because we borrow meditative techniques, which had their genesis back in the pagan times, beginning with the Greeks, building our foundation on existential thought in the context of time and space, it does not make it new, relevant, or Biblical.
It’s easy to rehash the philosophies of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, and put a spiritual twist on them. It’s easy to remove accountability from the individual and replace it with thoughts of an unconcerned deity who’s only desire is to give you money. It is much more difficult to come to terms with the fact that there is nothing new under the sun, that Paul, Peter, and the rest of the Apostles lived a spirituality far deeper than we can imagine, that placebos don’t work, that changing a habit doesn’t change your spiritual life, and that if we truly desire to be God’s children, we must surrender all to Him.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Respite

Sometimes I feel like a juggler of sorts. No, not one of those guys that juggles chainsaws or flaming swords, just a regular old juggler who juggles non violent, non threatening items such as oranges or apples. To some who get the feeling that I've been slacking off, I guarantee you I have not. Between finishing up another prophetic times booklet on spiritual maturity, to wrapping up the next newsletter for Hand of Help, to digging my car out of the snow every morning, there just hasn't been allot of time left in the day. You know it gets bad when you begin to consider the idea of buying a gallon of combustible fluid splashing it on yourself and striking a match just to get a little warmer. For once, I wish Al Gore was right, and global warming was accelerating, but apparently Wisconsin hasn't gotten the memo.
I have however been reading the comments to the latest posts, and am humbled to see wisdom in most of them, a fleshing out of the principle ideas I was trying to get across in my posts. The wise man sees trouble coming, the fool mistakes it for something else entirely, or in his unwillingness to face reality interprets it as being something else than what it really is altogether.
I realize the last couple posts seemed harsh to some of you, but truth rarely engages in the use of cosmetics. Truth cannot be prettied up, it cannot be disguised under make up and foundation. What I write is from the heart, it is the way I see the world that surrounds me in the context of God's word.
Today I will be wrapping up a few ongoing projects, and will post something more substantial tomorrow at the latest. For now I leave you with the hope that you will continue to burn bright, to shine in the midst of the darkness, and to aspire to the standard of God, not the standards of men.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Reality Check

Jeremiah 22:21, “I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, ‘I will not hear.”
Eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear are everywhere nowadays. They are no longer isolated incidents, but an epidemic of global proportions. On every street corner, in every home, in every church, you will find those who have chosen of their own volition not to hear the voice of the eternal Father.
Our prosperity has made us dull and hard of hearing, and on those occasions when God’s voice penetrates the haze of opulence, we shut it out, chase it away like some unwanted and unwelcome vagabond intent on destroying our mood, and shattering the earthly contentment we’ve so meticulously fashioned for ourselves.
With our lips we say we want to hear God speak, we want to hear His voice, but in our hearts we know it is a lie. When God speaks, when it is His voice carried upon the winds to the four corners of the earth, trumpeted like booming thunder, it is offensive, and most, even those calling themselves His own, turn their heads in dismay.
We hear the voice, but the words trouble us. The words are not what we want to hear, they are not what we would like them to be, for they are not words of blessing and prosperity, of easy life and cheap salvation, but rather they are words of judgment and trial, of tribulation and heartache, of tested faith and spiritual endurance. We want God, but on our terms, we want Him to speak, but only the words that comfort the flesh, the words that tell us we’re okay, that we will thrive, that we will prosper, that we will be blessed and embraced by friend and foe alike. Truth shatters illusion every time, and the illusion is cracked and crumbling.
We desire God to speak, only if He will say what we want Him to say. If His words offend, then we turn to the peddlers, to the priests who teach for pay, and the prophets who divine for money, who ease our burdened conscience with the increasingly evident lies that no harm shall come upon us, for the Lord is still among us.
Today’s Christian does not want to hear the true voice of God. He only pretends he wants it. Most would rather hear the word peace, even if it were a lie, than hear the word judgment even if it were the truth.
God has been handed an eviction notice in regards to His own house, and yet we still have the temerity to say He is among us. We have told Him to His face that we will not hear, even though He speaks, for His words burn and convict and compel a decision on our part. The times wherein we choose to trust God are quickly coming to an end, and very soon we will be forced to trust God. For those who have not experienced trust in the heavenly Father during those days when they had a choice, having to do so, and having no other choice in the matter will be a frightening experience indeed. Trust in God is nurtured; it is grown organically, and cannot be practiced suddenly, like the flipping of a light switch.
We would rather experience raucous laughter than groaning and tears; we would rather spend our time doing one of a hundred futile and worthless things than bend our knee in prayer. We are a proud people, and the idea of humbling ourselves before the eternal God of all, of submitting to His will even if it were to the detriment of the flesh, is both foreign and offensive to our sensibilities.
We have become that which He despises, we practice that which He condemns, yet we don’t even blush when we puff our chests out proudly and say, ‘the Lord is with us.’
We chose not to hear His voice in our prosperity; we chose to reject the cross in lieu of the easy chair. We rejected and despised the messengers who preached repentance, transformation, regeneration, rebirth, and lovingly embraced those who with wolfish grins told us all that was needed was to wave a hand in the air and write a check.
As the old adage goes, the times they are changing. Our season of prosperity is swiftly coming to its end, like the last few minutes of dusk until the night covers all. We will not hear His voice in our prosperity. Will we perhaps hear his voice in our poverty?


With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dilemmas Of A Prophet

As I was sitting in church yesterday morning I began to reread a few passages in the book of Habakkuk. This, the thirty fifth book of the Old Testament, is unique among the prophetic books of the Bible. The book of Habakkuk is not so much a message for the people, but a dialog between the prophet and God, who is trying to understand why the things that are happening are allowed to occur.
It was a time of great shaking for the nation of Judah, the end result of their rebellion and disobedience was being visited upon them. Although constantly called to repentance, it was stubbornly refused, and there was no change in the nation. The hardened hearts of the people of Judah would soon cause God to use the Babylonians as His chastening rod upon the nation.
All that could be wrong, was wrong in Judea the context in which the people found themselves during the time of Habakkuk being nothing less than disastrous. Politically, they were unsure and afraid because of the constant expansion of the Babylonian empire; socially, there was disorder and mass chaos due to the unwillingness of the people to abide by the laws of God. Justice had been replaced with injustice; trust in God had been replaced with trust in the arm of the flesh. Theft, greed, slander, and other more offensive sins were being practiced in full view of everyone. Lawlessness reigned, and rebellion had overcome the hearts of most.
Within this tumult, within the uncertainty, sin and rebellion, one man stood before God, seeking his face, desiring understanding in regards to his dilemma. Habakkuk’s dilemma was one that many true Christians face today in light of the condition of not only the world but also the church. Habakkuk sought the face of God and wanted to know how it is that the wicked go unpunished, and are allowed to devour those more righteous than them.
Habakkuk 1:13-14, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours one more righteous than he? Why do You make men lie fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them?”
God knew Habakkuk’s heart. He knew that the query stemmed from a sincere desire to understand the mind of God, and not some root of bitterness that he allowed to grow there. Habakkuk was not bitter, he just wanted to understand the heart of God, to perceive that which had eluded him. When we ask God with sincerity of heart, He will answer, for His desire is not for His children to live in ignorance. It is only when we come before God with our own agendas, or preconceived notions of what His answer should be even before He gives it, that He remains silent, and though we question, though we query, the answers never come. God knows the hearts of all men; He knows the intent, and the purpose for which we stand before Him.
God’s answer to Habakkuk’s pleadings was short, clear, to the point, and at the same time quite surprising. God did not go into detail, explaining his motives and motivations to Habakkuk, He did not expound upon the topic, but spoke personally and intimately to him saying, “the just shall live by faith.”
Six little words that speak volumes to every true believer, six little words that should give us strength and courage, that ought to embolden our hearts, and cause us to pursue God, without being distracted by the lives and practices of those around us.
The modern day Christian is continually confronted with opposition. Although it is subtler than outright physical persecution, everything around us, the world we live in, promotes the negation and denial of faith. Rather than promote Christian values and faith in God, the society in which we live is continually embracing, and tightening its grip on the worthless doctrines of materialism and self. This present generation is out for one thing, and whether it be in the form of fulfilling desires, experiencing pleasure, accumulating wealth, it all boils down to making the carnal man as happy and comfortable as possible. In order to achieve their desired goals, many men and women abandon their humanity, go to any lengths, and use any means necessary.
Looking at humanity as a whole, it seems very few are still concerned with God, justice, or honesty, and resort to manipulation, intimidation, and injustice, unconcerned with the fact that their perceived happiness is causing others to suffer. Man has become as a beast to his fellow man, that which makes us human slowly being depleted, replaced with cruelty, selfishness and bitterness. We speak of love only in general terms, never truly showing it in a practical sense, we invoke the name of God only when it suits us or when we have something to gain from it, and yet we still thump our chests, crying out to all who would hear, ‘we are the people of God.’
One thing is certain, if you are a Christian in this fallen generation, where the righteous is looked upon as an alien species, faith in Christ is the only thing that can keep you from desperation, uncertainty, and sadness, transcending you into the realm of righteousness, hope, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
It is easy to grow despondent. It is easy to throw our hands in the air, and give up the fight. Why do good, when those who commit evil are rewarded? Why pursue righteousness when the lukewarm fill the pews unhindered? We see, as Habakkuk saw the state of the world around us, and wonder how it is that God still tarries, how it is that judgment has not rained down. Leave the judgment to God. Nothing goes unnoticed by His all seeing eye. The day of reckoning is coming on swift wings, and all that was done in the darkness will be brought to the light. God is not mocked, though He tarry, He has impeccable accounting skills. He is just, He is holy, and in His time God will do as He sees fit. As far as you, His child is concerned, be certain that faith will carry you, and by faith you will live.

With love in Christ,


Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I arrived home last night to just as much snow, and just as much cold as we had in Romania. I'm slowly assembling a theory that the cold is following me wherever I go. This weekend is supposed the coldest weekend of the year in Wisconsin. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, but at least it will keep me indoors and writing.
There is allot floating around in my cranium that I haven't been able to put down on paper recently. Trying to balance life is sometimes a full time job, and has a tendency to drain the optimism right out of you. Not that I was a very optimistic guy to begin with.
I'm tired, but I can't sleep, my body knows it needs rest, my mind thinks it's two in the afternoon and I should be out and about, thus the reason for an incoherent post at six in the morning. I've been awake since three, but was busy going through the accumulated mail.
Starting tomorrow, Lord willing, we will be back on track, and I will begin posting at more regular intervals. For those of you living around Wisconsin, or in it, stay warm this weekend, make some tea, light a fire, cuddle up with a good book, whatever it takes for you to stay indoors. Thank you all for your patience, your kind words, and your prayers.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two Brothers Part 4

If we were to believe that the purpose of this parable was only to illustrate the attitude of the younger of the two brothers, we would be mistaken. The preconceived notion that only the babe of a family suffers from the syndrome of the ungrateful, unthankful and unsatisfied heart is a persistent idea within both society and family alike. If however, we were to look within our own hearts with honesty, there is a chance that we might find the bitter roots of ungratefulness there as well, growing in secret.
An ungrateful, or unthankful attitude concerning present circumstance oddly enough does not spring up due to a certain unmet need, or a lack, but rather from the foolhardy practice of comparing ourselves with others. Whether we compare ourselves to others in more limited circles such as family or church, or more broadly such as society or the workplace, the outcome is always the same, that feeling of dissatisfaction, of being unfulfilled, ungrateful for that which we have already been given, hungering for more.
We have helped create and perpetuate such a self-centered society, that most people imagine love to mean that every one of their faults will be overlooked, all their desires and wants summarily met, and that by right of birth in this country, they are entitled to respect and unconditional obedience by all. I could go off on a tangent here, and point out some painful truths concerning how we are viewed by the rest of the world, why other nations view us as such, and prove by out very actions and reactions that most of it is due to how we view ourselves. When one looks down upon a person, simply because they were born on a different continent, even though that person may be better educated, well versed and intelligent, it tends to birth a sense of dislike if not outright hatred in the hearts of those who were so readily dismissed.
It all goes back to that feeling of entitlement that so consumed the young son, wherein he believed himself wiser than his own father, more capable of mapping out his life’s journey than one who came before him, who had dealt with the same trials, seen the same pitfalls, and successfully evaded the same snares.
Now that we’ve discussed if only in broad terms the younger of the two brothers, his rebellion, his stint in the far country, the disappointments he faced there, and finally his return home, we would assume that by contrast the older sibling, the one who was content with living in his father’s house, would be portrayed in a far more favorable light. Surprisingly things are not as they seem, as we discover in the second half of the parable of the lost or prodigal son.
As long as his brother was away from home, his older sibling did not feel his absence. He used the circumstances to his own favor, polishing his own image, and garnering more favor for himself from their father. We see him wrapping himself contently in the illusion of his own self-righteousness, with no one to oppose or contradict him. Feet firmly planted upon his own pedestal, the older brother looked down upon his younger sibling, judging and condemning him in his absence. He finds virtue in himself, thereby justifying his elevated perception of his own works, if only in his own eyes. His comfort level however, would soon be shattered by the unforeseen. The image that man tries to project to others concerning himself may fool those around him, but only until the day of difficulty and crisis arises. Only in times of crisis does a man’s true character come to light.
Receiving the repentant young son back into his home after his journey to the far country, the father of the two had yanked the pedestal from underneath the older sibling’s feet, depriving him of his elevated status and object of comparison. The Pharisaical mindset of comparing oneself to others rather than the standard of God, had been deeply ingrained in the older sibling, and when the object of his scorn had been forgiven, shown grace, and embraced as a son once more, his true heart began to show.
The unanticipated twist, at least from the viewpoint of the older sibling, was that his brother had been restored to the status of son, even after his rebellion. No, he was no longer entitled to an inheritance, he had already squandered that which fell to him, but the older brother went into a frenzy at the thought that his sibling’s deeds could be forgiven and he could be restored.
In order to understand the true reason why Christ had told this parable, we must take it in the context of two previous parables He spoke, as well as who his intended audience was. The crowds that Jesus drew, were not the sophisticates, or the higher echelons of society, on the contrary the first verse of Luke 15 tells us that tax collectors and sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. This did not sit well with the Pharisees and scribes, and they murmured saying that Christ not only received sinners, but also ate with them. While the young son in the parable that would follow represented the tax collectors and sinners, the older son represented the Pharisees and the scribes.
As the Pharisees listened intently to the first two parables Christ uttered, the parable of the lost sheep, and the parable of the lost coin, they were pleased with His words, for He spoke of sinners, those who were lost and needed to be found. It was not their spiritual condition that Christ was rebuking, at least not yet, and this pleased the Pharisees.
One could only imagine the surprise on the faces of the Pharisees, a surprise that could in no way be anticipated given the context of the first part of the parable. They had to sit and listen until the end of the parable concerning the prodigal son, to realize that within this intricate masterpiece of oration, their own spiritual condition did not go overlooked.
While the father received his young son with open arms, forgiving the insults and rebellion, the same could not be said of his older brother. For the older sibling his brother’s return was not a reason for rejoicing, but one of mirth and sadness. Although by the father’s standards the prodigal son was welcomed back into his home, it was not so with his brother. Two surprises were in store for the younger brother upon his return to his father’s homestead. The first was that his father had received him with joy, restoring his status as a son publicly, and the second was his older brother’s rejection.
Christ’s piercing gaze made its way over the faces of His listening audience, a gaze that pierced the heart, as they felt the searing, saw the knowledge in His eyes, that although they were able to hide their inward sin from the eyes of mere mortals, they could not so readily hide them from the Son of God. Their hidden sins were indiscernible to the naked eye, for the naked eye only sees the flowing robes, and pious countenance, but the eye of God sees beyond the shell, sees beyond the robes, and knows the hearts of men.
The life of routine the older son had come to enjoy, doing all the right things, at all the right times, only needed to be shaken, for his true nature to come to light. One small crisis, and all the beautifully arranged cosmetics, all the illusion that men have so craftily fashioned, fall away and the true heart comes to the surface. The sins of the heart, the sins of attitude, invisible and unsuspected, materialize and manifest when provoked. Even a joyous occasion, a moment of happiness such as the restoration of the prodigal son, the return of his brother to the bosom of his father’s home, was enough of a reason to provoke an outburst of rage in the heart of the older brother.
The first sign of the mask slowly slipping from his face, the first action that could be directly attributed to his true nature, was that as he came in from the field, and drew near to the house, once having heard the music, and having been informed of his brother’s return, the older son refused to go in. It was as if he could not bear to be in the same room with his younger brother, could not risk contaminating himself, could not breathe the same air as one who had gone off into the far country. Love and mercy had never taken root in the older sibling’s heart. He lived the letter, not the spirit of his father’s teachings, and for this reason forgiveness was a foreign concept to him. All those inward sins came boiling to the surface, jealousy, envy, hatred, righteous, or self-righteous indignation, all of them creating a perfect storm in the older son’s heart, blinding him to the beauty of forgiveness, love’s power to restore, and the endurance of mercy and grace.
No longer able to control his rage, unable to forgive, the older brother also betrays an attitude of disrespect toward his own father. It had always been there, this attitude of impertinence, it just needed a catalyst, a reason to come to the surface and make itself known. Not only is he unable to forgive his repentant brother, he also finds fault with the best father in the world.
His words, dripping with disgust suggest that he no longer considered his younger sibling a brother, no longer viewed him as a relation. While the older son refers to his brother as ‘this son of yours’, the father does not hesitate to remind him that he still considers him his son, and so he must accept him as his brother.
Is it possible that some persons we have written off, persons we no longer consider brothers, might still be considered sons by the heavenly Father?
The Pharisee personifies a person who neither acknowledges or appreciates the treasures he has in Christ, and as a consequence lives a life of spiritual poverty, similar with a life of servitude as the older son states: ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I have never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.’
Even though all the goods in his father’s home were at his disposal, even though he also was rightful heir, his attitude prevented him from seeing this. In his boundless love, the father spoke to the older son, informing him of two very important things, first that he was always with him, and second all that his father had, was also his.
Another shortcoming that the older son manifested was that he believed he could have a relationship with his father, based on his labors alone. He refused to acknowledge that not only the formal obedience was important, but also respect for one’s father, and love for one’s brother. Again we see the dissatisfaction ceremony and formality absent of relationship and love can spurn in the heart of even the most devoted of sons. Yes, the older son had been serving for many years, and had never transgressed his father’s commandment at any time, but there was no joy in his labors, no desire to know his father, no love in his sacrifice, just a mechanical repetition of those things which he felt he had to do.
Pharisaical righteousness will always point the finger, will always account for the failings and shortcomings of others, judging, despising, never willing to look in the mirror, never willing to acknowledge its own wrongs.
Rather than react as the older son did upon the return of a prodigal, may we rejoice for one who was lost has been found again. Rather than stand outside, attempting to find fault in the Father for showing love, mercy and grace, may we enter in, and realize it is reason for merriment when one who was dead, is alive again.
If we possess the Father’s heart, our constant quest will be to reach out to those who are in the darkness, hoping to bring them to the light. When love guides us, we will live in anticipation and joy of the day when we look afar off, and see a son returning to his father’s home, one whose eyes have been opened, and whose heart has been flooded by repentance.
You might never have traveled to the far country, you might be one of those who has never transgressed one of the Father’s commandments, and served for many years, and if this is the case, remember always, the Father is with you, and all that He has is yours. Rejoice in the knowledge that you never had to endure hunger, rejection, or living among the swine in order to appreciate the benefits of living in your Father’s home.


With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Two Brothers Part 3

I liken trying to get an internet connection here in Romania to panning for gold. Sure you can go days and days with seeing nothing more than stones and dirt in your pan, but once you see a spot of yellow at the bottom of the pan, all those days of being wet, muddy, achy and stiff backed, seem to melt away. Every day I wake up and am greeted with no signal found most of the time. On those blessed days however, when the little icon pops up and says I have a signal, all the frustration of being isolated from the rest of the world seems to melt away.
For the past couple posts we have been discussing the parable of the prodigal son, but as we edge, inevitably so to a hopefully satisfying conclusion, we begin to see that the parable was more about the two brothers, than it was about the prodigal himself. Jesus was speaking to the pharisees, and in his trademark subtleness it is the end of the parable that rebukes them, and shows them the truth of their error. For now however, we continue with the younger of the two, who at the end of the last post had happened upon an epiphany of sorts.
We see the shift in the young man's perception, even in the words he uses. Before leaving for the far country, the young man stood before his father expressing his feeling of entitlement by saying, 'Father give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' Now, after having experienced need, after having seen the cruelty of the far country, he returns to his father and says, 'make me like one of your hired servants.'
Within these subtle nuances we discover another spiritual principle that is applicable to the life of every believer. The immature Christian clings to the perception that he is entitled to everything, and so as he stands before the Father he is likely to demand, to say 'give me'. The mature Christian however, realizes that he needs to be transformed, he needs to be made, chiseled and molded, by the renewing of his mind, and is more likely to stand before God in humility and say, 'make me.'
Rather than stand before God, list of demands firmly gripped in our hands, unconcerned with whether or not we are ready to receive our inheritance, but merely saying 'give me' like some spoiled child, may we be wise and humble ourselves. May we stand before the heavenly Father, and before we utter the words 'give me', may we respectfully request that he make us, transform us, into worthy heirs of the divine inheritance, that we may not squander the priceless things, but prize them and make them dear.
Seeing as some who call themselves Christians choose to live their lives here on earth, unaccountable, unchanged, pursuing the same practices as before they found Christ, i wonder if they truly understand the worth of that which He did for us on the cross. Like the young son living in his father's house, many go about enjoying grace, salvation, and mercy, without ever realizing how precious and priceless they are. So removed are they from the reality of the favor they've been granted that some even choose to leave His presence, growing dissatisfied with the standard and requirements.
It would be mere speculation and supposition of the worst kind to assume that in order to reach spiritual maturity one must first visit the far country. If we are content with our place in our Father's house, the journey to the far country, and the pain and disappointment experienced there are not necessary at all. For some however, there seems to be no other path to greater understanding and appreciation of that which they already possess, than visiting the far country with all its disillusionment and heartache. It is detrimental to be sure, for the individual, as well as those around him, and for some it becomes their final destination as they are unwilling to humble themselves and return to the Father's home, asking to be made a servant. The wise man learns from those that came before him, while the foolhardy is doomed to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors.
The young man had come to a crossroads. Either humble himself, return to his father's house without pretense, or feelings of entitlement, or starve among the swine. Although the choice seems evident to most, for some it is not that simple. Again, human pride and arrogance have their say, and some continue living in a state of near death, rather than humble themselves. Once, the young man saw himself as great in his own eyes; once the young man believed that he could conquer the world; once he looked down upon his father, but no more. Now he chose the path of humility, longed for the familiarity of his home.
Once the young man arrived, new surprises were in store for him. He realized he had never truly known his father, his capacity for love, mercy, and grace. He also realized he had never learned to be grateful for all the benefits that living in his father's house in submission, patience, and thankfulness entailed. The young man who left his father's house thinking he knew it all, returned with the newfound understanding that he really didn't know much. The prodigal who repents of his actions, and returns to his father's embrace, is offered, by grace a new beginning in his father's house.
It is said that a man in South Africa, obsessed with dreams of wealth and riches, sold his farm and went in search of diamonds. when finally he came to the point of having squandered all his savings, having run out of resources, not having found the sought after diamonds, disillusioned and depressed, he threw himself off a bridge into a river where he drowned.
After a few years, the man who had bought the farm spotted an unusual stone int he creek bed that wound its way through the property. He picked up the stone, had it polished and placed it on the mantle in his living room, where it became a topic of conversation every time he had a visitor. One day, a guest who was a specialist in precious stones, took a closer look at the stone sitting on the mantle, and concluded that it was in fact a diamond. Having the stone discreetly seen by another specialist, the farmer soon discovered that he was in possession of one of the biggest diamonds in the whole of Africa.
The farmer returned to the creek bed, and to his surprise he saw more such 'stones', which he gathered, and had polished. They were there waiting to be discovered all along. The ex owner, had sold a veritable diamond mine, one of the richest deposits in the world, having gone off in search of precious stones.
The lesson is as simple as it is relevant. Often times, we go searching for something when it was right under our noses all along, ignored and overlooked. Today, many Christians are enchanted by newness. Whether or not this new movement, experience, or revelation is scriptural or of God, is inconsequential as long as it is something new. They travel, they gather in stadiums and coliseums, they wait in lines hours on end, all so they could say they were there, they experienced, they saw and they felt. All the while, that which is most precious, most profound, most glorious, intimacy with Christ, is left unattended, ignored and overlooked.
I do not know when the next post will be, but what I do know, is that it will be the conclusion of our study of the two brothers. I am returning to the States this Friday, and will hopefully be able to get back to a normal pace in posting my thoughts. Thank you all for your prayers, and may He who sees all, guide you in all things.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Two Brothers Part 2

As we continue our study of the two brothers, I am glad to see, by the comments some of you have written, that the subtleties of the younger of the two brother's journey into the far country are not lost on you. Yes, there is much wisdom and knowledge to be gleaned from this parable, and as yet we have barely scratched the surface.
The young man finally arrived. In his mind he had broken free. Blinded by illusion and driven by desire, he soon forgot that no matter how much money he had, it was still numbered. No matter how deep the barrel, dip into it often enough, and eventually it runs dry. He began spending his inheritance with largess and ostentation, attracting a group of profiteers and good time friends, who further assisted in squandering everything. Ignorant of the tried and true adage that when goods increase, they increase who eat them, the young man spent as though there were no tomorrow. Tomorrow became today, and the day after became tomorrow, time passed and the wheels of fortune began to turn, at first imperceptibly so.
Eventually the young man woke up one day, eyes bloodshot, lips dry, pockets empty. If in the bosom of prosperity that had been his father’s house the young man was able to blame others for his imagined unjust fate, here in the far country he was confronted with the enormity of his sin, and the fact that the blame could only be placed squarely on his shoulders. When we run out of people and circumstances we realize most often that we have no one to blame for our choices but ourselves. The young man was ever so slowly coming to the realization that he had not only sinned against his own life, but against his father and against heaven itself. He had squandered that which his father had set aside for him, on worthless, meaningless, trivial things, with nothing to show for it than an aged, pale face and a feeling of regret.
Rather than finding the joy he had so been looking forward to, rather than finding his happiness, or his bliss in the far off country, all he found was lack. The young man began to be in want, a new experience for him, something he had never before encountered while living in his father’s house. After having gathered all together, the young man had summarily wasted his possessions, with nothing left to show for it. Every commodity can be wasted in the far off country, where the specter of hunger and lack is watching from the shadows ready to consume the unsuspecting, ignorant and foolhardy traveler.
The young man begins to taste the bitter cup of being in want, the bitter pill of loneliness, uncertainty and danger. In his moments of desperation, man is forced to resort to anything, and anyone, and accept any chance he is offered. The young man no longer had the luxury of choosing his station in life; he no longer had the option of living in his father’s house carefree and sheltered. His time of having choices, or making choices had passed, there were no cards left to play, no emergency rewind, and he resigned himself to the only place that would have him, the fields wherein he was commissioned to feed swine. No longer did he consider his father’s house, and his father’s rules a burdensome thing, no longer did he consider the feasts at his father’s table ordinary, he would have been content with filling his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, but even those were out of his reach. He learned that not all men were like his father, giving and merciful. No one gave him anything.
The young man’s journey describes, vividly so, mankind’s fate throughout history, that of gathering all, squandering all, and wanting for all. This cycle began with the advent of the first man and woman God ever created, having been given everything in the garden, they wanted more, ignoring the simple fact that there is nothing more than everything. It is the cry of the modern age, a cry, which is like fingernails upon chalkboard to God’s ears, ‘we want more, we want more’, and God, shrugging his shoulders whispers to those who would hear, ‘but I’ve already given you everything. What more could you want, what more could you desire?”
This perpetual dissatisfaction with what God has already given us, is the bane of the human condition going back to the genesis of human history. Just as the young man in Christ’s parable, and even Adam and Eve, man usually realizes the error of his ways long after he has settled in the far off country, long after he has wasted and squandered, long after he has either left his father’s house of his own free will, or has been evicted for disobedience. For some all that remains is the nagging memory of what once, the painful reminder that once they lived in paradise, once they lived in their father’s house, and it was their choices that brought them to the lowly existence of living among the swine, and envying them for having pods to eat.
There is nothing greater than what God has for you. Nothing in this world, nothing of the material earth can equal the beauty, grandeur, and worth of what God freely gives His children. If we live in constant knowledge of this reality, we will no longer look toward the far off country with longing, but be grateful and thankful to our Father for making provision for us, for loving us, and keeping us.
When the young man began to be in want, this experience was so new for him that it immediately called to mind memories of his home, and the abundance he had access to there, a home of which he was no longer certain, but which invoked a sense of hope, in that he came to himself. It would seem man does not realize the reality of his circumstances except in extreme situations. Either he is lacking everything, or he has everything in abundance but is not grateful for that which he has. It is inconsequential how many things we possess, if we are never satisfied, or how many things we lack, if we are thankful, grateful, and content with our circumstances. This present life cannot be evaluated merely in quantitative terms, for as Christ Himself stated, one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. I realize this statement is revolutionary and goes against the grain of all that is being taught in the church today, but they were not my words, they were the words of Christ Jesus the Son of God, and perhaps it would be wise and prudent to heed His words rather than the words of men in possession of nothing more than over inflated egos, and a propensity for scripture twisting.
Few things are more comforting to a soul than finding that blessed balance, wherein we are not forever bouncing from one extreme to another, never finding our footing. Balance brings about contentment in the Christian life, wherein we accept the seasons of plenty with as much gratitude and thankfulness as we accept the seasons of scarcity.
Philippians 4:11-12, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Perpetual dissatisfaction of the soul is a wretched disease, an ailment from which many a Christian suffers. Often drastic measures must be taken, in order for God to open our eyes to that which He has given us, that it may be viewed in the context, and in contrast to that which the flesh desires to possess. Contrary to popular belief, I do not subscribe to the idea that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince mankind that he did not exist, but rather that he convinced mankind the things of this earth are more worthy of pursuit than the things of heaven. This spiritual blindness concerning the Kingdom of God, and our responsibility to pursue it, has caused many a soul, which considered themselves redeemed and sanctified to return to the far country, to grovel among the swine, hoping to get their share of the pods. Far too many reject the banquets and feasts at their father’s table, demeaning and degrading themselves in pursuit of lesser things.
The young man had everything in his father’s house, all that he could ever desire, all that he could ever want, yet in his heart he was dissatisfied. He had to be brought to the point of envying the swine which ate hungrily at the pods which he distributed, to come to himself and realize that even the servants in his father’s house, the lowliest of serfs had bread, and even enough to spare while he perished with hunger.
The young man no longer dreams of the high life, he no longer dreams of greatness and opulence as he did before. Only a realistic evaluation of one’s situation and circumstances causes us to come to our senses, to realize certain truths, and establish with precision our course of action from that point forward.
The crushing weight of truth opened the young man’s eyes to the enormity of his sin. He realized he had sinned not only before his father, but against heaven itself, having by his own actions given up the right to be called his father’s son. He had lost the dignity required of a son, and acknowledged he was no longer worthy of that standing. He purposed in his hear to return to his father’s homestead, not with the feeling of entitlement he had previously expressed, but with the minimal request of being made like one of his father’s hired servants. He would appeal to his father’s sense of goodness and mercy, rather than his own legal right of being called his father’s son.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Two Brothers Part 1

It is the most discussed parable that Christ ever spoke, second only, as far as emotional impact is concerned, to the parable of the lost sheep. A studious man could busy himself for years on end discovering the intricacies of this parable, the underlying messages, the warnings and the lessons that can be gleaned from the twenty verses, which this parable encompasses.
For most believers it is the lost son that is most compelling and interesting to study, for it was the consequences of his decisions that led him to a far off country wherein he became a feeder of swine, on the precipice of starvation.
Although the lessons one can glean from the younger of the two brothers are more obvious, there are more subtle lessons one can learn from the behavior and reaction of the older sibling as well. For a long time I have wanted to do a comparison study between the two brothers, to see their virtues and their shortcomings their decisions and the consequences thereof. We will begin with the younger of the two brothers, since as has been previously stated he is the more interesting of the two siblings.
Anxious to assume control of his own destiny, to blaze his own trail and be out from under his father’s shadow, the younger of the two brothers stood before his father one day, and demanded that to which he felt entitled, the portion of the goods that fell to him. No one was prodding this young man to go out and attempt to make his own fortune, his father had not given him a time limit in which he must be out of his home, it was the young man’s decision to leave all that he had known behind and venture out on his own.
To demand what one perceives they are entitled to, is so engrained in human nature, that long before a child is able to form words, long before they are able to articulate, they inherently know how to demand. They demand with their eyes, with their hands, with their tears and with their cries, until the parents relent and give in. Whether due to their insistence, or the parent’s love for their child, it is true that most often, children get what they want, even if they have to cry and holler for a while. Parents know it takes time, patience, solid fundamental education and good upbringing, for a child to reach understanding and mature his character to the point that he realizes he is not entitled to anything, and as such has no right to demand.
Tragically some never grow out of the entitlement mentality, and live their entire adult lives feeling as though they are owed, they are entitled, and react violently upon realizing the contrary. In the eyes of one who has no life experience, who is lacking in wisdom and understanding, money can be viewed as both the source and condition upon which the fulfillment of their desires and happiness are contingent.
The first lesson, and perhaps the most important we glean from this parable, is that contrary to popular belief, money does not bring happiness, contentment, or fulfillment in one’s life. Fulfillment comes about from the subtle, often overlooked areas of our lives, and some discover this truth well into the twilight years of their existence.
It is unknown how long the young man in this parable harbored feelings of resentment, convinced that he deserved more than wasting his life away working for his father, caught up in the daily routine, but his actions confirm that these feelings existed. He was not content with his place in his father’s house, there was no gratitude nor thankfulness in his life for having been born into a family of means, he wanted something different, something more, not realizing the blessing that had already been bestowed upon him.
The thought of leaving did not come about overnight. It was nurtured, fueled by the idea that he deserved in fact was entitled to a life of liberty and independence, without the restrictions imposed upon him by his father, not understanding that absent of order, absent of rules liberty is nothing more than disguised chaos.
A great many things may have seemed wrong to the young man, as he lived comfortably in his father’s house. His heart wanted for something different, his flesh desired to unfetter itself from the confines of his father’s rule, loving, merciful and understanding as his father might have been. The parallels we can draw between some Christians today, and the young son who did not know to appreciate His father’s goodness are countless, and each of us can see an area in our lives, a moment in time when we acted like this young man.
Although he was legally entitled to his portion of goods, due to the lack of maturity expressed in his hasty decision to come into possession of his inheritance before he was ready, he disqualified himself as true possessor of his inheritance. It is a spiritual principle that is often overlooked within the house of God, but one to which God holds every believer. Before we can come into possession of our promised inheritance, we must first reach the level of maturity, accountability and responsibility that God requires.
Luke 16:12, “And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”
In light of this truth we also make the humbling discovery of how good God truly is. We see the level of grace with which He treats His sons in that He will allow them to administer the spiritual goods of another, even at the risk of them being squandered, that they may become good and faithful stewards of the future inheritance promised them by covenant which is kept for them in heaven.
In his typical straightforward fashion, the apostle Paul clarifies this spiritual principle in his epistle to the Galatians, as he focuses on the need for a certain level of maturity.
Galatians 4:1-2, “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.”
It is often a dangerous thing to demand of God the portion of the goods that fall to us, to demand our inheritance, before we are ready to administer them wisely and faithfully. God knows when we are ready. He knows when we have matured sufficiently. He has an appointed time for every one of His children wherein He will give what was promised them. For many believers the waiting is the hardest part, zeal absent of maturity driving them to ask of God those things for which they are not ready. If the waiting seems difficult for you, if it is hard being a servant, remember that you serve in your Father’s house, not at the whim of some merciless master, and only temporarily. Never forget that you are an heir. Sooner or later, you will inherit that which the Father has set aside for you. By laboring now, as a servant in our Father’s house, He is preparing us to be approved workers for when we receive our inheritance.
Impatience drove the young son, and after receiving that which fell to him, and gathering all together, he wasted no time in putting as much distance as humanly possible, between himself and his father’s house. He deposited nothing in the bank, chose not to invest in real estate, put nothing aside for a rainy day, left nothing in his father’s house for his eventual return. He took everything and traveled to a far country, a place where he could dedicate himself to the life that his heart yearned for, far from the prying eyes of family and friends.
Material wealth is easily squandered in the far country, in secret and darkness, where the heart is constantly and feverishly searching for that new and different experience. This far country whose existence the young man discovered perhaps through stories he’d heard, or in his own adolescent imagination, is the irresistible mirage that beguiles those absent of maturity. The glorious promises the far country makes never seem to materialize, for they are a lie, an illusion. The far country remains permanently rooted in the land of fantasy, haunted by the fertile minds of men given to dreaming with their eyes wide open.
The young son saw this far country so often in his imagination, believing so vehemently in the illusion he had constructed, that he was ready to do anything in order to reach it, including breaking his father’s heart. He was convinced that true happiness could only be found in this imaginary place, and he would let nothing stand in his way. With wild abandon he traveled to this far country believing what seemed to good to be true. Yes, life was good in his father’s house, he lacked for nothing, and had everything, but the young man believed in his heart that there was more. Once he found his place in this new country, once he tasted of those things his father forbade, then he would know the heights of happiness and fulfillment.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Story of Love

I realize this article is somewhat belated, as is my greeting of a happy new year, but the weather has not let up, and the frozen power lines make it impossible to do anything substantial. We wait patiently, and once in awhile I check to see if I have a connection, and today, circa two in the afternoon, I saw the words that brought me more joy than they rightly should, 'connected, signal very low'. I don't know how long this will last, and so I thought I would make the best of it. Whenever I get a signal, low or otherwise, I will be posting something, anything. I guess global warming isn't all it's cracked up to be. Minus 20 degrees isn't all that warm to me, and that's in the daytime. Please remember the people of Romania in your prayers, as many are going without the basic necessities this winter, as well as firewood to warm their homes. Will write again soon. God bless.
It was time and He could put it off no longer. It has been promised that the King would come and visit His province, a province that was His by inheritance and birthright. His ambassadors had spoken of His imminent arrival far in advance, but few paid any mind, few heeded. All went about their business, aware but dismissive of the fact that divine royalty was about to grace their barren land with the light of His presence.
He chose to enter the world, not in a palace, not to the sounds of trumpets and harps, but in a lowly manger. He was born not to the house of a magistrate or high-ranking official, but as the son of a carpenter. He took on the appearance of a mortal being, although He is eternal, and was from the beginning of all things. Although He tried, one such as Him could not disguise His true nature. Cloaked in the garments of the common man, one need only peer into his eyes, open their hearts to His words in order to realize that He was not of this place, He transcended this plain this earth, this existence. He was divine, He was royalty, and those who chose to see, followed Him wherever He went.
Those that followed Him marveled at His heart of compassion. They marveled at His capacity for love. He reached out to the forsaken, the unwanted, that segment of society that had long been written off by pompous men full of themselves, offering them freely what could never be purchased.
Many turned their back on the King of kings, rejecting eternity, rejecting hope, while others more brazen spat upon Him and mocked Him. He who could call down hosts of angels, He who had command over the unseen hosts of the heavens, the Son of God, born of a virgin, made flesh, He who had all power and all authority, did not react as mortals would. Christ did not retaliate against those who rejected Him, who mocked Him, even those who spat upon Him. He felt compassion for them, realizing that they had chosen eternal judgment, eternal sorrow, when they could have chosen eternal life.
Some received His offer, were plucked from the mire of sin and desperation, were made clean and renewed, were given new garments, and a new reason to hope. A new heart was beating within the chest of those blessed few, and they worshiped at His feet knowing that they could never repay Him for the gift He had bestowed upon them.
The Christ walks among us today, making the same offer He made over two thousand years ago, inviting all who would hear to come and partake of eternity, to enter into their eternal rest, to know the fullness of He who was, and is, and is to come. Now as then, a great majority reject and mock Him, but a blessed few see Him for what He is, the embodiment of love, and have no choice but to surrender their all to Him, to be consumed by His grace, and take their rightful place within the body of Christ, living in Him, for Him, and through Him.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.