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Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Sovereign Encouragement

If one is a reader of the Word with any diligence and devotion eventually they will come to the realization that God’s means of encouraging and strengthening His beloved differ greatly from the means employed by many of today’s wildly popular preachers.
Today I was reading a passage in the book of Isaiah, and I couldn’t help but think how different God’s way of speaking encouragement into our lives is than that of mere men.
Isaiah 54:11, “O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted. Behold I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires.”
Here is a word spoken by God that promises nothing in the way of the escapism we have come to be so comforted by. Although God acknowledges that His servant is afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, He does not proceed to promise that the affliction will end, that he will no longer be tossed about with tempest, or that he will finally find the much sought after comfort. God’s means of encouraging His child is the promise of a priceless reward for the faithfulness he exemplified while being tossed about with tempest, afflicted, and not comforted.
When we get sick, the first thing we do, is attempt to find a cure. Whether it is merely a common cold or something far worse, we want that pill, that shot, that treatment that will take away the pain, and make us feel better. In our walk with God, whenever we race affliction, whenever we are tossed with tempest, many of us run to God for comfort, for the remedy. We run to God not attempting to see His perfect plan for us in our affliction, not attempting to understand His thoughts rather than impose our thoughts upon Him, but to demand that the affliction cease, the tempest pass, and that we find our comfort.
What some of us, and I have been guilty of this a time or two throughout my walk, fail to understand, is that God sees beyond today, into tomorrow, into next week, next month and next year, and the affliction He allows to befall us today may be the means by which we are spared far greater affliction tomorrow. Often times we are as little children who get angry with our parents for slapping our hand away when attempting to touch a hot stove, and even when the parent takes the time to explain why it would have hurt much worse if they would have let us touch the stove than merely slapping our hand away, we fail to understand and appreciate the gesture.
I don’t know who this is for but it is something I felt I needed to write and post, even if you get angry with God for allowing affliction, even if you are unable to find your comfort, know that God will not apologize for what He has allowed in your life, because the alternative would have been much, much worse.
In every affliction, our foundation is strengthened, through every tempest we come out that much stronger, and as reward for our faithfulness God begins lay colorful gems and sapphires within the stones of our foundations. A proven faith is able to reach greater heights in God, and partake of a greater glory. A proven faith sees the afflictions and the hardships for what they are and glories in them for it knows the outcome of all trials, a closer and more intimate fellowship with the Father.
There is yet another thing God promises to those who remain faithful in the midst of the storm, those who are not discouraged or disheartened by their afflictions but press ever forward toward the eternity that awaits.
Isaiah 54:14, “In righteousness you shall be established, you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you.”
God promises that He will establish us in His righteousness. When men are established in anything other than the righteousness of God, whether it is prosperity, strange doctrine, false manifestations or outright deception, their end will be likened to the end of those in the world who will suffer both oppression and terror. To His beloved children, those whom He has established in His righteousness God promises that they shall not only be far from oppression and terror, but that they shall not fear.
There is a distinct difference between affliction and oppression, between being tossed with tempest and outright terror and fear. The former things are allowed of God for our purification, maturity and testing, while the latter are reserved for those who reject Him, who mock Him, and deny Him.
The season is upon us wherein we must stand on the promises of God, our heavenly Father, and not be swayed by what the physical eyes see. We cannot be as those who stumble in the darkness, for we are children of the light and our path is clear before us, our destination preordained from the creation of the world. If perfect love casts out fear, then trust in our heavenly Father keeps it at bay, not allowing it to worm its way back into our hearts even when everything in the physical would suggest otherwise. God will never forget His servants, He will not abandon His children, and though it might seem that we endure affliction without end, seeking comfort and respite from our trials and not finding it, soon we will know the true measure of our Father’s protection and favor.
Isaiah 65:13-14, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; behold My servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, My servants shall rejoice, but you shall be ashamed; Behold My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and wail for grief of spirit.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

True Revival

Yesterday I got a chance to catch up on what’s been happening in the Christian world as of late. Apparently a whole lot can happen in the span of a few weeks, and as I read accounts of what was to be the most glorious revival of the past century, one that was to sweep the world and change men’s perception of God, my heart grew heavy, and I grew increasingly grieved.
To those of you who wrote me encouraging and admonishing me to go get soaked, catch the fire, absorb the anointing and dozens of other platitudes, well now you know why I did not go. No apologies needed. I understand.
The thing about revival is that when it is man centered, its inevitable end is obvious. Sooner or later all that is built upon sand, upon the character, charisma, or quirkiness of a man fizzles and dies out because there was no Sovereign substance to be had.
The reason I am grieved in my heart is not because sin was exposed, but because once again the faith of many was bruised, and in the end it is the sheep that end up suffering, shipwrecked and uncertain of where to turn. I know that some of you will roll your eyes and think to yourselves, ‘if they believed it, then they deserve everything that’s coming to them, all the hollowness, emptiness, disillusionment and hopelessness’, but lest we judge too harshly, remember that you were once a babe in Christ yourself. For those with no spiritual foundation, for those with no practical knowledge of the truth of God’s Word, it is easy to get caught up, and swept away. Again, the need for truth in this hour of great deception is obvious to all.
One would think we would have learned our lesson by now, and we would turn to God rather than seek out the anointing of men, but some souls just refuse to accept the simplicity of having a true and unshakable relationship with God. There has to be something that entertains, something that shocks the system, and something that is tangible and visible to the naked eye. Well, dear friend, true revival begins and manifests in the inward heart of a man. True revival begins not with a bang, a bam, a cacophony of noise and uncontrollable shaking, but with repentance and broken heartedness, with humility and meekness. True revival is not a means of entertainment, or a vehicle by which we exalt an individual, but the experience of realizing our own impotence, sinfulness, and depraved state, and surrendering ourselves to the grace and love of Christ Jesus.
Men with titles such as ‘Apostle’ and ‘Prophet’ are now scrambling to see what went wrong, how it was that such a movement was derailed in such an explosive and shameful fashion. If we look in the Word, the answer is obvious, even to one such as myself, who bears no title other than a servant of Christ.
When the messenger rather than the message is the center of attention, when man rather than Christ is lauded and lifted up, it is no longer a question of if something will go horribly awry, it is simply a question of when.
I have always been a firm believer that the messenger should remain faceless. When one recalls a meeting or a sermon, it should not be in the context or recalling the man’s appearance, or his face, but the message itself. When you can’t seem to recall what the messenger looked like, but remember every word of the sermon, when the message burns in your heart long after the face was forgotten, then the servant of God has done his duty, and presented Christ and Christ alone.
Unfortunately this will not be the last such ‘revival’ and soon enough I will start receiving correspondence once more encouraging me to go, and feel and experience something out of the ordinary. As I stated in a post some time ago, Christ is sufficient, and I desire nothing more than to be in His presence every morning and every evening, having fellowship and intimacy with Him.
Lest we return to the simplicity of the Gospel, lest we embrace the love of Christ, and desire nothing more than His presence in our lives, the faith of many more souls will be shaken, bruised, and otherwise brought low, because they will continue to go from one place to another, from one event to the next, seeking to find what can only be found in repentance and righteousness.
There are no shortcuts dear friends, no magic impartations, no means by which one can bypass the cross, by which one can do away with a time of seasoning and maturity. God established an order for a reason, and that reason is becoming ever more obvious with each passing day.
As Philpot so aptly put it, ‘Man’s religion is to build up the creature. God’s religion is to throw the creature down in the dust of self-abasement, and to glorify Christ.’

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fear Nothing

I am not a stone. I have heard men claim that they never need encouragement, that they can go throughout their life, chin up, head held high, wading through whatever difficulty may come with the greatest of ease. I don’t know if I really believe such claims, since even the Son of God needed encouragement, even the Christ needed to be strengthened, but if the claims prove to be true, I envy such men.
I woke up this morning less than enthusiastic about facing the day’s many challenges, and as I often do, turned to the Word for some solace and comfort. Often times God chooses to speak to us through His Word in such a way that a few verses can ease even the greatest of distress. Yes, it would be more interesting and it would make for a better post if I had heard an audible voice, or had a supernatural experience, but just going to God’s Word was sufficient for me on this particular day.
God knows what we need when we need it. Vitamin C is all well and good, but you can take it by the truckloads and still not get rid of a toothache. The beauty of our heavenly Father’s comforting is that it comes not only at the right time, but also in such a way that it has the intended effect.
I opened my Bible this morning to Psalm 46, a well-known passage in the Word, but one that I was able to see in a new light due to the way I was feeling.
Psalm 46:1-11, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the mist of her, and she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah”

Seeing the world as it is, and not as we envision it to be is enough of a reason to spark fears into the hearts of many a soul. The fears are all encompassing, ranging from fear of being unable to provide for one’s family in the coming years, to fear of persecution, to fear of yet another global nightmare called a world war. We know dark days are coming, we have been forewarned and some have even been called to sound the trumpet of impending judgment, yet seeing it so close, witnessing the fulfillment of prophecy, it makes one’s heart skip a beat if not two.
Although the world has every right to fear, the children of God must be fearless in these days. We have found the cure for the fear that is plaguing mankind, and the only place this cure is found is in God. A true child of God knows that he has a refuge and strength in the Father even during the darkest of times. A Christian must know beyond doubt that even in the eye of the storm, God is there. He is ever present, and His promises to His children are not mere empty words, but guarantees that come what may, He is with us. We have provision not by earthly means, but by way of God’s miraculous ability to provide.
Yes, nations may rage, kingdoms might be moved, but in the midst of all these things God will help His beloved. We are about to behold the works of the Lord, and witness as He makes desolations in the earth. It must be so, for He is a just God, and His is a righteous judgment. In the midst of these things, we as His beloved children must fear nothing. If only for a second we would be still, if for an instant we would learn to hear His voice, we would know that He is God, and He is able.
I share this with you, because it strengthened me this morning, and I pray that it will be a comfort and strength to some of you.
I wish I can say, as some are saying that the worst is behind us, it was just a glitch in the machine, that the failsafe system has kicked in and we are back on track to a glorious future, but even those who are saying such things are only saying them halfheartedly because the storm clouds grow denser and darker with each passing minute.
Our earnest desire now more than ever must be fellowship with God, and nothing more. When we seek fellowship with Him, and by repentance, righteousness and humble petition achieve it, our place of refuge, our provision, our peace and our joy become a byproduct of that fellowship. If however we seek the provision, and the refuge while bypassing the fellowship we will discover the vanity of what we pursued only when it is too late. Every fulfillment of God’s promises to His children flows through intimacy with Him. The best way I can describe it, is that intimacy with God is the river that carries the fulfillment of His promises to us.
I stress this point because it is inevitable that voices once more rise up urging you to go to one place or another, promising safety and refuge, convincing in both their zeal and determination. I cannot tell you what to do, or where to go, nor can any other man. Only God can speak to you in such a way that you will know He has sent you. We must however remember the words of Christ who said, “therefore if they say to you, ‘look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or, ‘Look He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”
It is this intimacy and fellowship with God, which we have been stressing lately, that keeps us from being deceived, for if we know the true voice of God, we will readily be able to discern the counterfeit.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bear Prodding

I have been unable to get a connection for some time. It seems everyone's discovered it is better to put a lock on your wireless network than let tourists use their internet connection. Finally got one that works a little and here is the article I promised. God bless.
There are few activities that are more dangerous than bear prodding, or as it is known in our part of the world, poking bears with a stick. Jumping out of an airplane without a parachute springs to mind, as does playing chicken with a bridge or a concrete wall.
In recent das there have been a rash of bear attacks in Romania, all but one involving overly eager and less than brilliant tourists who decided to get just a little too close, and try just a little too hard to get a reaction for that perfect, once in a lifetime photo opportunity reminiscent of a National Geographic cover. It was not enough to snap a shot as the bear was minding its business, going about its daily activities, no, they needed to see it reared up on two hind legs, to see the fangs bared, and hear the rumbling roar.
Needless to say, the got more than they bargained for when they discovered that bears, cuddly and furry as they might seem, really don’t like being pocked with sticks, heckled, pelted with rocks, or disrupted from going about their business.
In recent days, it seems we got bored with a failing economy, a housing crisis with no end in sight, a banking system on the verge of collapse, inner tensions and turmoil of an unprecedented nature, and decided it would be a distraction if not outright fun to start poking the bear with a stick.
What we’ve failed to understand yet again, is that the bear is smarter than we give it credit for, and although its movements might seem like random lumbering, cumbersome, ungraceful, reactionary and even accidental, it is in fact an agile highly intelligent killing machine that plans and executes its attacks with cunning brilliance and a violent finesse.
What is currently happening in Georgia is no fluke, it is no coincidence or happenstance; it is in fact quite deliberate and purposeful.
Soon we will discover the might of what we might have once believed to be a vanquished foe, and inconsequential enemy, and realize they are not the subservient obedient lemmings we’ve fashioned them to be. This bear has been neither caged nor domesticated, it does not fear the stick, or the electric prod, and no amount of idle threats will deter it from its purpose.
The tensions have only just begun, and in due season they will escalate exponentially because it has been written, we have been warned, and now it must come to pass. All we can do is wait patiently prayerfully upon the Lord and watch as the next chapter unfolds.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Labors Untold

I have not been sitting idle. I realize I've not posted something of substance in some time, but there are things that must take precedent, and being a hand of help to those in need is one of those things.
While on summer vacation visiting relatives two of the children in the orphanage were involved in a car accident, and we've been trying to get them as good a medical care as possible. Please keep them in your prayers, since one of them is in intensive care.
In between long drives during record breaking heat, I have been working on an article that I would have liked to entitle, 'bear poking and other ill advised and dangerous passtimes', but since this is a mouthful and a few words too long to be a title, I will simply call it 'Bear Prodding', having to do with the recent tensions between mother Russia and her offspring Georgia, as well as our self destructive need to meddle. It is in the finishing stages, and barring any unforseen circumstances, as well as having an internet connection, I will post it sometime tomorrow.
God bless you all for your patience, I know at least my friend Jim is frustrated at the lack of posts. Yes, Jim, I read your e-mails.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Out of the Frying Pan

I was hoping that once I got home I would get to rest for a few days. Even the strongest among us need a few days of rest once in awhile, and especially when it comes to ministry and seeing a necessary message fall on deaf ears time and time again, it can get tiresome.
The day after I got home, the rains started. Two days later, we were doing all we could to deal with the floods that have swept through our part of the country. Thousands of people were left homeless in a matter of hours, as river after river flooded, and any home that was not on higher ground fell victim to the onrushing waters.
I apologize for not being able to post anything of late, but every morning we are out trying to see where we can be a help, from something as simple as passing out bottled water, to helping people with food and clothing. The consensus among those who have lived in these parts all their lives is that they have never seen devastation of this magnitude. The rains have stopped, but only briefly. Tomorrow they are said to start again and a fearful expectation of a repeat performance is keeping many awake at night.
To top it all off, I was recently flagged as a 'spammer' by this fine site, and was not allowed to post anything for the past week and a half. The situation has been remedied, and as soon as I clean the mud from between my toes, get a decent night's sleep and am able to put two coherent thoughts together I will post something that is relevant.
From what I've been able to read in snippets, things are not much better in the states, from tropical storms, floods, heatwaves and the like. Keep us in your prayers, and we will keep you in ours. In the end, all we have is Christ, and the family of Christ to depend upon, to lean on, and to tell our hurts to. It is one of those greatly overlooked benefits of being a child of God.
I can throw out some cliched line about overcoming at this point, but as I've said repeatedly I prefer to be honest and forthright. Yes, I have my concerns, yes I have my fears, yes the condition of the world we are presently living in is troubling to say the least. A child of God is in no way intended to be above all these things, but know in perpetuity that he or she will always have a present help in time of trouble. We trust our Heavenly Father as we press on, knowing that His grace is sufficient in any situation.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.