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Saturday, April 30, 2011

What To Do In The Valley!

There is much that could be said about life in the valley, in fact I did a five part series on this topic not long ago. Attention spans being what they are however, I wanted to write a few thoughts on what to do when you find yourself in the valley just in case you don’t have the three hours necessary to watch the entire series. If you do have the requisite time, then by all means watch the entire series, and consider this post an appetizer before the main course.

We all go through the valley; it is an inevitable experience in this present life of struggle and toil. It matters not how much money you have in your bank account, how stable your job is, how straight your teeth are, or even that you have the metabolism of a jackrabbit and can eat anything you want and not gain a pound. No, I’m not bitter towards people with fast metabolisms; it would just be nice to know what that’s like.

Everyone goes through their season in the valley, it’s just part of this package we call life, but it’s what we do in the valley that must set us apart from the rest of the world. Yes, if you are a child of God, then your journey through the valley must be different than those of the world. We know that our God is a strong tower, we know that He is a present help in time of trouble, and knowing these things must influence our attitude as we journey through whatever valley it is that we are currently traversing, whether the valley of heartache, the valley of need, the valley of pain, the valley of trial, the valley of persecution or the valley of indecision. Yes, there are plenty of valleys, I just named a few, but whichever the valley you might be facing is, I believe the following three things will not only help you cross it, but do it in such a way that it brings glory to God.

The first thing we must do in the valley is refuse to be discouraged.

I realize it’s easier said than done, I realize many right now are having a ‘but you don’t know what I’m going through’ moment, but whatever it is that you’re facing, once again I implore you, refuse to be discouraged. In all things God has a plan, in all things God has a purpose, and as His children we must submit and trust in His wisdom and strength to carry us through.

Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

We walk through the valley! We don’t tremble through the valley, we don’t run through the valley, we don’t panic through the valley, we don’t lose hope through the valley, we walk through it, and though we might walk through the valley of the shadow of death itself, we will fear no evil. Not fearing is a choice that we make, not panicking is a choice that we make, not losing hope is a choice that we make, and we must choose not to do these things because God is with us. This is why we do not fear, because God is with us, He is near, and there is no problem, no obstacle, no difficulty that we cannot overcome with God’s help.

The Second thing we must do in the valley is trust in the presence of God.

God will not leave you alone. God will not abandon you when you need Him most. David knew that God was with him, just as we ought to know that God is with us. God is with you, His rod and His staff comforts you, what have you to fear? I know it seems hopeless at times, believe me I’ve been there, when the world seems to be crumbling in on itself all around you, when you see no end in sight to your trial never mind any sort of light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, I’ve gone through my moments in the valley just like everyone else, and I’m certain there are more to come, but through it all I trusted and will continue to trust in the presence of God. I know that He is with me, and He would not allow me to endure more than He knows that I could.

I’ve gone through enough of my own valleys to also know that it is in the valleys that our faith is tested. Nobody wants to hear it anymore, but God does test our faith, and it is often in the valley that our faith is tested all the more.

Psalm 66:10-12, “For You, O God, have proved us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid afflictions on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but you brought us out to rich fulfillment.”

After the testing, after the refining, after we have gone through the fire and through the water, it is God who will bring us out to rich fulfillment. This, we must never lose sight of, that God will bring us out to rich fulfillment, and when we look back on what was, on the valley that we crossed, on the trial that we endured, we will realize that it was all worth it.

The third and last thing we must do in the valley is trust in God’s protection.

We serve an omnipotent God, a God who spoke the universe into being, a God to whom the whole of creation must submit, and it is this selfsame God that keeps us in the palm of His hand.

John 10:29, “My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

Jesus said something that we readily forget in our season in the valley, that our God, the Father, is greater than all! It matters not what your obstacle is, it matters not who your enemy is, God is greater than all. Know that God is with you, know that God is protecting you, and because He is there, and He is protecting you, you should neither fear nor be discouraged as you walk through the valley.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

P.S. Yes, I'm still posting a teaching per day, it seems only fair that since you exceeded my expectations, I should return the favor and exceed your expectations as well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Five Principles of Spiritual Growth! Part 2

The third principle of spiritual growth is that it is a process that takes place from the inside out. God begins cleaning house not by painting the outside, but by cleaning the inside first. Even during the days of Jesus there were the scribes and Pharisees who put more of an accent on the outwardly appearance than they did on the inward part. To the world, the seemed as pious and righteous men, but Jesus who saw their inner heart called them hypocrites, comparing them to whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Spiritual growth implies an inward transformation, and if no such transformation has taken place, than we have neither grown nor matured in God. God’s work of spiritual restoration begins in the hearts of men, not in their closet. He judges the heart first, not the apparel, and it would be wise for us as His children to do likewise.

Deuteronomy 6:4-6, ‘Hear O Israel: ‘The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.”

The fourth principle of spiritual growth is that it covers every aspect of our lives. We must love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and all our might. God does not deal in half measures, He will not accept anything less than our all, and this is something He will not quibble over or make concessions on.

‘Well, Lord, I will love you with half my heart, and three quarters of my soul, and two thirds of my might.’

Not going to happen! Unacceptable! Serving God is not a hobby, it is not something we do on Sunday mornings, it is not something we get to when everything else is done, and we have nothing left to do, it is what we are, the servants of the most high God, and it is something that we are in perpetuity.

Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Many believers treat their faith in Christ like a coat they can put on and take off whenever they so choose. Some keep the coat on only as long as they are in church, then hang it up on the rack until the next service rolls around. Whether in their personal lives, in business dealings, in conduct or speech, Jesus is nowhere to be found, among those who treat their faith like something they can put on hold, but during church service, they’re there clapping their hands and stomping their feet with the rest of the congregation. Our faith in Christ is not some disposable thing we can neglect except for one day per week, it is something permanent and perpetual that grows in us on a daily basis, it is something we must dedicatee our entire lives, and our entire beings to, otherwise it is all for naught.

The last principle of spiritual growth is that spiritual growth is all the more significant within the context of suffering and hardship. I know nobody wants to hear it, I realize that we would all prefer to go to heaven a bed of roses accompanied by the sound of cherubim playing harps, but there are spiritual benefits to hardships and difficulties that far outweigh the momentary discomfort we might experience while enduring them.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-5, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.”

During the time of this writing, the church of Thessalonica was undergoing some severe persecution. Paul however did not write to them and say ‘so sorry to hear that you are being persecuted for your faith, maybe you should tone it down a tad’, what he wrote to them was the fact that he was boasting to other churches of God of their patience and faith during their time of persecution and tribulation. Paul saw their faith growing exceedingly, and due to their level of spiritual growth and maturity, they were able to endure.

It was Jesus who forewarned us that in this world we would have tribulation, suffering, troubles and persecutions. He said these things to prepare us for the inevitability of opposition, the inevitability of persecution, and the inevitability of hardships. If we are to remain faithful to the call of Christ, if we are to love Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls than tribulation and persecution are unavoidable. What we know however, and what gives us great courage and boldness is that within these trials, in the midst of the persecution, our faith will grow exceedingly, our spiritual man will mature, and we will grow in God, and bear much fruit, all for the glory of His kingdom.

Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

I realize to some these scripture passages might seem out of place, especially if all you’ve been fed during the past few years is ‘prosperity, blessing, tolerance, acceptance, and independence’.

This is why it is important for us as believers to start growing in God, and understanding all of Him and not just part of Him. Too many today preach a one dimensional God, wherein all that He is, is love and nothing more, encouraging the sheep to roam about wherever they please, do as they please, and still get an all access pass to heaven. When a man has been proven, he will receive the crown of life, and not a second before. If we are called to endure for the sake of Christ then consider it a blessing, and a grace, for to you it has been granted, it has been bestowed, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. I know why I write these things, and other than reminding you that it is a grace to suffer for the sake of Christ, all I can do is implore you to grow in God today, right now, and not put it off any longer. The hour is upon us wherein even the most seasoned of warriors, and the most mature of believers will have their mettle tested, and their resolve pushed to its limits. What then will become of the babes? What then will become of those who still remain in spiritual infancy refusing to grow?

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

P.S. As most of you may have heard already, Rev. David Wilkerson of Times Square Church has gone on to his eternal reward in heaven. I can't help but wonder if God is calling home His generals, those that have been on the front lines for decades upon decades, as an act of mercy and grace to spare them from what is about to come upon the earth. My heart weeps, as do the hearts of many today at the passing of Rev. Wilkerson, but we are still here, and while we are here may we redeem the time, and be about our Father's business with greater fervor than ever before. The old guard is passing into eternity; where is the new guard that ought to be standing in the gap and taking their place? This among many other things is what is weighing on my heart this gloomy morning. May we run our race as faithfully as those who came before us, that we might receive the selfsame reward for our efforts!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Five Principles of Spiritual Growth! Part 1

There are some who would prefer that a great majority if not all who are babes in Christ remain so in perpetuity. Those who would prefer this often have a vested interest, and most of the time it has to do with being able to feed a babe whatever you want to feed it. Even in the physical, I’m sure that if babies could talk they’d have a thing or two to say about the pureed carrots or string beans loving mothers around the world force down their children’s gullets every day. One can tell by the facial expression of the babies strapped into their high chairs, having nowhere to run, that the carrots and the beans wouldn’t have been their first pick if they’d had a choice.

The same goes for spiritual babes, even though they make the funny faces, they still consume whatever their preacher or pastor doles out week after week. A babe doesn’t put up much of a fight, it does not complain often, as yet has not been able to feed itself, and so does not realize that instead of graduating from the milk and pureed carrots to meat and solid foods, they have remained in a state of spiritual stasis for far longer than they ought to have.

What I fear is lacking in far too many lives is the desire to grow spiritually. Too many have resigned themselves to their present spiritual condition, sitting in the same high chair opening their mouths and waiting for someone to fill them with whatever they so choose.

If you have children of your own, or remember back to when you were a child, then you know that after a certain time has passed and the baby begins to grow their desire to mature seems to be all consuming. First they start to crawl, after a while they attempt to stand, a little while longer and they take their first step, they start reaching into your plate for a piece of chicken, throw a fit because they want to drink from the big boy cup, start saying they’re too big for diapers, and eventually that little bundle you held in your arms like it was the most fragile thing in the universe is off to their first day of school.

Whether desiring to grow physically or spiritually, effort, diligence and discipline on our part are absolutely necessary. This is also the first principle of spiritual growth: that one cannot grow absent these three things, effort, diligence and discipline. I realize nobody likes to put in the effort anymore, I realize the notion of discipline is reserved only for those in the armed forces, but this is our spiritual man we’re talking about, and yes, it is worth the effort, it is worth the diligence and it is worth the discipline.

Throughout the word of God, we see admonitions and encouragements to perceive this spiritual journey of ours as a race, one in which we are running not for a perishable crown, but for an imperishable crown. We are also encouraged by Peter, to be even more diligent to make our calling and election sure by adding to our faith virtue, to our virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. This is the recipe for spiritual growth, to build upon the foundation, to daily add to our constitution that we might mature, and go beyond the temporary phase of babe in Christ. Yes, spiritual infancy ought to be a temporary thing for us as believers, yet we readily accept its permanence in our lives.

The second principle of spiritual growth is that one cannot grow spiritually unless they have a true and consistent relationship with Christ. There can be no substitute for a relationship with Christ! No matter how many books you’ve read on spirituality, no matter how ‘spiritually aware’ you might think yourself to be, if you do not have a relationship with Jesus, then you can never grow beyond spiritual infancy.

John 15:1-7, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them up and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

I realize it goes against our spirit of independence and individuality, but as a friend of mine is fond of saying, ‘the truth be the truth.’ We are dependent on Christ, He is the giver of spiritual life, and absent Jesus we cannot bear fruit. Now if we are fruitless, because we do not abide in Christ, then we become a withered branch which gets gathered up and thrown into the fire. In Christ, we grow, we mature, and we become fruitful. Absent Christ we are nothing more than kindling for the fire, a withered branch a dead thing waiting to be gathered up, destined to do nothing more than feed a flame.

Jesus also said something else that I must point out, the fact that there can be branches that are in Him, that do not bear fruit. The vinedresser takes away every branch in Him that does not bear fruit. This is why it is vitally important for us as individuals to mature spiritually that we might bear fruit. No one expects a young tree, barely planted to produce any fruit, but if you give it a few years, and its roots are deep, and its trunk is thick and it still produces no fruit, then there’s a problem. ‘Every branch that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.’

Being pruned is never fun, nevertheless God does it that we might bear even more fruit. Pruning by its definition is the cutting away of dead or overgrown branches or stems, but the vinedresser does it for a good reason. We are continually growing and maturing in God, and once we’ve borne fruit, we are pruned that we may bear more. It is the way of our spiritual journey, wherein God is constantly cutting away those things that keep us from producing to our full capacity, and when He does this all we can do is submit to His pruning shears.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Jailer of Philippi

After receiving a vision in the night, of a man of Macedonia pleading with him to come their way, Paul leaves for Philippi taking Silas with him. Shortly after arriving in Philippi, Paul and Silas unmask a girl with the spirit of divination, and after casting out the demon that was inside her promptly end up in prison for their act of kindness having angered the girl’s masters because they used to profit greatly from her.

Here they were in the inner prison, both men having their feet placed in stocks, yet rather than bemoan their fate Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns late into the night. They knew the God they served, and they likewise knew that they were there for a purpose. Although they might not see God’s purpose of their having been thrown in prison in the present, their faith in God was such that they knew He was already making a way for them in the future.

I’ve always found the contrast humbling, that while Paul and Silas sang in their shackles, we murmur in our freedom. Will it take shackles for us to be thankful? Will it take privation and need, hunger and poverty to cause us to realize that we weren’t really all that thankful when we ought to have been? Most people look far and wide to find those doing better than themselves, and then summarily compare their existence to theirs, growing bitter in their hearts that they have not amassed more than the ever illusive ‘they’ have. Why do so few look at those who are hurting and hungry and naked and cold realizing that they are blessed in this present life far above a great majority in this world?

Although Paul and Silas were ignorant as to what the plan of God was, they knew without doubt that God did have a plan. God’s plan all along was to save the jailer of Philippi, and the journey to his salvation begins with an earthquake at midnight.

Acts 16:25-27, “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”

Within these two verses we have God’s entire strategy as it pertains to the saving of a soul that is shackled by sin.

First, God shakes the foundations!

The earthquake devastated the prison, it shook the foundation, and awakened the sleeping jailer, who upon seeing that the walls had come crashing down around him comes to the conclusion that the prisoners had all fled, and seeing no other means of escape draws his sword and prepares to take his own life. It is then that the authoritative voice of Paul the apostle breaks the veneer of the jailer, as he commands him loudly, ‘do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’

No one had fled, all were still present, and amazed the jailer called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. In an instant the jailer realized it was not Paul and Silas who were in prison, it was him. The walls and the chains and the foundations of stone can never contain true faith, because if the Son has made us free, then we are free indeed. No matter where we might find ourselves, no matter the circumstances we may encounter, we are free because Jesus made us free, and He made us free with the price of His blood.

God had decided it was time to intervene, not for Paul and Silas’s sakes, because they seemed quite content praying and singing with their feet in stocks, but rather for the sake of the jailer. God had established an appointed time wherein the jailer’s old foundation had to be removed, so that a new foundation might be erected.

1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

There is but one sure foundation, there is but one stable foundation, there is but one steadfast foundation, and that is Jesus Christ. It matters not who the individual trying to lay a new foundation is, it matters not how educated, philosophically challenging, articulate or motivating he might be, if the foundation upon which he is attempting to build is not Jesus, then it will surely fall, and crumble under the weight of its own futility and vanity.

I have no problem with seeing such edifices come crumbling down, I have no problem standing by and watching something not founded in Christ come to its inevitable end, the only problem I have is that most often when the edifice crumbles there are still innocents inside, who often get crushed by the rubble. This is why we must speak the truth with courage, and boldness, and urgency.

All these doctrines and teachings all these repackaged heresies of old that are being revamped in our modern age, they will crumble in and of themselves given enough time. If not for the sheep, if not for the innocents who have surrendered their hearts to these things, I for one would mimic Jonah, grab a tub of popcorn, find a shady spot and watch it all come crashing down. I have no sympathy for those who have built kingdoms on deception and on encouraging the sheep of God’s pasture to disobey and outright rebel against the Shepherd.

Second, God opens the doors!

A man whose foundation has been shaken and demolished is confronted with a real and present spiritual need. Seeing His need, God stirs his heart, and the jailer asks as the rich young ruler once did ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’

Acts 16:31, “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life, He is the door, He is the path, and only by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ will men be saved. There is no other way! I don’t care who gets on television and tells you different, I don’t care what emotional appeals they make, either the Word of God is true, and every man who contradicts it is a liar, or God lied and there’s no point to any of this!

Yes, it is that cut and dry, it is that black and white, it has to be because it is how it is presented in the Bible. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, it is the only way by which men can be saved and reconciled unto God.

Third, God loosens the chains!

The jailer realized a truth that caused him to fall down and tremble at the feet of Paul and Silas. He realized it was not the two men standing before him who were in chains, it was him all along that was bound; it was him all along that was shackled by the sin in his life. God loosens the chains; He breaks the bonds, and sets us free. He is a good and merciful God, but One who has a standard which He will lower for no man.

There are two practical lessons I would like you to take away from these few words today, the first being for believers in Christ, and the second for those who have as yet not believed on Him, who have as yet not surrendered their hearts to Him, and who do not know Him as Lord and King. For those of you who are believers, if ever you find yourself in the inner prison of trial and affliction, it is possible that God allowed you to end up there that He might use you for the salvation and redemption of a lost soul. Do not murmur in your trial, but rather rejoice, because God has a plan, and it goes far beyond what you can currently perceive.

For anyone happening to read this who is not a believer, be forewarned your foundation is unstable, it is shifting and it is soon to crumble. God wants to open the door of your heart, and loosen the chains that hold you captive that you might serve Him with obedience and gladness of heart.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From Desperation to Hope

Of the four gospels the gospel according to John best accentuates the stages that Mary went through as she approached the tomb and discovered that Christ was no longer there on the morning of the resurrection. Throughout her cries we see the journey from utter desperation, to the heights of hope, from the depths of heartache to the peak of joy.

Imagination escapes me as to what Mary went through on an emotional level. She was there when they crucified Christ, she stood as He hung upon the cross, weeping and unable to do anything more. Now He was dead, taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. The least she could do to honor Him was prepare spices and fragrant oils, and then return on the first day of the week with what she had prepared to anoint the body as was Jewish custom. Mary was not alone, certain other women were with her, all of them having been changed and transformed by the power of the One they now came to honor. They came very early in the morning, most likely walking most of the night since they were either from Galilee or Bethany. Yes, Bethany was closer to Jerusalem, only a two mile walk, but Galilee was much further and the women all carried the vessels in which they had prepared the spices and fragrant oils.

When finally they arrive at the tomb, ready to set about anointing the body of Jesus, they were stunned to discover that the stone had been rolled away. I do not know the depths of Mary’s anguish at seeing the stone rolled away, and the tomb being empty but if her cry is any indication it was deep indeed.

John 20:1-2, “On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Her cry was passionate, her plea cut to the bone, ‘they have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him’. They ran to the tomb, the other disciple outrunning Peter, they went inside to investigate and just as Mary had told them, the body was not there. All they found was the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around his head folded together in a place by itself.

They came, they saw, and they left. All went their way, saddened in their own right, not knowing how to make sense of what had just occurred for as yet they did not know the Scripture that He must rise again from the dead, but Mary remained. She stood outside the tomb and wept.

As she stood there weeping, she looked inside the tomb and saw two angels in white, sitting one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

Her pain was so great that she did not register the supernatural nature of these two men, she just kept weeping until asked ‘woman, why are you weeping?’

‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him’, she answered.

I often wonder what it would take for us to cry out as Mary did. What if one day we too discovered that the Lord is not where we left Him? Would we perhaps on that day weep, or would we not even register the fact that He is missing. I’ve been to churches wherein the Lord was not there, I have been in prayer meetings wherein the Lord was not there, and no one seemed to notice He was missing. Everyone went about their ritual, their ceremony, their tradition, following the script that was so ingrained in their hearts it was automatic, making due with boisterous laughter, or loud music, with programs and gimmicks and raffles and prizes, but the Lord was nowhere to be found. Perhaps they do all these things simply because they do not want to face the reality that Jesus is no longer in their midst, perhaps they do all these things simply because they do not want to be confronted with the reality of their spiritual dryness. Whatever the reason, Jesus was missing, and they were none the wiser.

John 20:14-15, “Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘woman why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir if You have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Among the many things to be admired in Mary’s attitude, her persistence has to rank somewhere at the top of the list. She saw Jesus, whom she did not recognize, and assuming He was the gardener begged Him to just tell her where He had taken the body. Her desperation had not diminished, she hadn’t just wiped her eyes and gone away like the disciples and the rest of the women who had come with her had. ‘Tell me where you have laid Him!’ He didn’t even have to show here where He had placed it, all He had to do was tell her and she would take care of the rest.

John 20:16, Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say Teacher).”

When Jesus brings hope, it is not gradual, it is sudden. In an instant, Mary went from weeping tears of grief, to weeping tears of joy. Her desperation had been instantly transformed into hope for there before her stood the One she had been seeking in the tomb. Jesus saw her love and her suffering. The Lord saw her desperation and desire, and revealed Himself to her.

There were perhaps more important people than Mary Magdalene that He could have revealed Himself to the morning of His resurrection, but she was the one who came early, and wept, and waited, and would not leave until He opened her eyes and showed her it was He who was standing before her.

There are perhaps more important individuals that Jesus could be revealing Himself to today, individuals with clout and position and disposable income, but in His mercy and infinite grace Jesus chose to reveal Himself to you and to me. This above all else ought to give us hope, this above all else ought to bring us joy, that unworthy as we might have been, Jesus found us in our desperation and revealed Himself to us.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Final Tally, Lifelong Thanks!

Yesterday was the last day of the fourteen teachings in fourteen days campaign that I promised you, the readers of this weblog if we managed to raise $3000 for the Licxandru. I was, and continue to be exceedingly humbled by the love and compassion you’ve shown toward Gabriela and her family. Even when our faith and expectations are small, when God sees that the intent of our heart is pure, He exceeds all that we could ever dream or hope for.
The final tally of the money that will be going to the Licxandru family, after some last minute donations that we received, is no less than $13,150.00. Of that, close to $11,000 was donated by those of you who read this weblog. For your open heart, and your giving spirit, you have my lifelong thanks. I realize that in times such as these saying ‘thank you’ seems insufficient or insignificant, but alas, it is all that I can do.

Tomorrow God may provide for the Licxandru family in ways we cannot know, but today He has chosen you as the vehicle of that provision. Your obedience warms my heart, as I realize there are still those who are able to look beyond their own need, beyond their own lack, and lend a helping hand to those who are likewise suffering. Whether you prayed for the Licxandru family, whether you sent in items to be auctioned off, or sent in a donation specifically for them, on behalf of this ministry, myself, my brother Daniel, and the Licxandru family, thank you for your kindness and generosity.

Today I had planned on returning to the ‘principles of judging’ series, but as I checked my bag I realized I somehow misplaced my notes. Actually, they are not misplaced, I forgot them on the couch in my apartment in Wisconsin, and since I’m almost a thousand miles away from there, for the next few days I will be posting some more teachings on various topics, as the Lord leads, and once I return home we’ll pick up the series where we left off.

I’ve been alone now for five days, by myself, enjoying the tranquility that comes with being still, breathing in the mountain air, and listening to the birdsongs floating on the wind. If my wife were here, it would be perfect, that one day many look back on and remember as their ideal, that symbiosis between simplicity and flawless beauty that some never seem to discover in their hectic lives. The one thought that continues to creep into my mind as I behold the beauty God has created, is ‘if He made all this in six days, imagine what heaven’s going to be like.’

We are homeward bound, and this is a truth we ought never to forget no matter how blessed we are in this present life, or how tried we are in this present life. Whatever your circumstances, whatever your trial, whatever your hardship, remember always it is temporary, fleeting, passing, an intake of breath, the blink of an eye in the vastness of eternity.

Even though where we will be tomorrow is a mystery to us, it is by no means a mystery to our loving Father, who holds us in His embrace, who shelters us from the storms, who encourages us when we are discouraged, and who strengthens us when we are weak.

Once again, a heartfelt thank you for living out the gospel of Christ, for being His heart, and His hands, and for going beyond feeling empathy to actually reaching out.

James 2:15-16, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen!

In his first letter to the church of Corinth, Paul spends the entire fifteenth chapter defending both the facts of Christ’s resurrection as well as the importance of His resurrection. We all know the history of the church of Corinth, the selfsame people that Paul was writing to, we know that it was a church heavy laden with sin, and if anyone had the choice there wouldn’t be many hands raised if offered a pastoral position there. If you’ve ever taken the time to diligently study both first and second Corinthians, you will have realized that the reason for all the sin, the reason the church of Corinth was so removed from the truth of Christ, is the absence of healthy doctrine. Although Paul had done his best to teach Christ, Him crucified and resurrected, others had come in after Paul’s departure and began to teach aberrant doctrine among which was the denial of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. In his straightforward and sincere matter Paul the apostle of Christ, begins to dismantle every false teaching running rampant in the church of Corinth, reminding them that if we have taken His yoke, then we must walk the path He has set out for us, and not make our own path which will lead nowhere but to destruction.

It would be wise for many of today’s cutting edge, modernized churches to revisit the letters to the Corinthians, and see that there is but one way into the holy of holies, and that way is in the Christ, and through the Christ of the Bible. We cannot worship different christs, and hope to be welcome into the kingdom of the one true Christ. We cannot make our own path toward eternity and live with the expectation that it will lead to the same destination the narrow path of faith will. Our duty is to submit to the authority and will of God, being ever aware that His word is as a lamp unto our feet, showing us the way to a greater knowledge and greater fellowship with Him.

The resurrection of Christ has always been one of the most hotly contested topics of our faith, because the enemy knows just how paramount the fact that Christ is risen is. Men have tried to uncover secret tombs wherein they claimed the remains of Jesus still rested, they’ve tried to publicize pseudo gospels that questioned the divinity of Christ, all to sow doubt in the hearts of believers as to the reality that the tomb is empty, Christ is risen, and because He has risen we have the eternal hope that we too shall likewise one day rise in Him. The reason the resurrection of Christ is so important, the reason we must believe it and teach it can be summed up in a few verses in the aforementioned chapter.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom he did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable.”

The resurrection of Christ is the quintessence of our faith, the cornerstone absent of which everything falls apart. As Paul so aptly put it, if Christ is not risen, then all our preaching is in vain, and likewise you faith also is in vain. All our songs, all our prayers, all our hope, everything that is directly or indirectly related to Christ is ineffectual if Christ is not risen. If He is not risen, then our sins have not been forgiven, we remain dead in our sins, and all who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If Christ is not risen, then everything we believe is futile and pointless, and of all men we are most pitiable if in fact our hope in Christ does not extend beyond this present life into the life to come.

In his love for truth, Paul goes into this extended soliloquy detailing all the aftereffects of not believing in a risen Christ. Essentially he tells the church of Corinth that their entire faith, all that they believe is for naught if Christ is not risen. He hammers hope the point, this one singular truth, that men don’t fear a dead god, and hints at the notion that this was also another reason why the church of Corinth was overflowing with sin and all manner of perversion.

Christ is not a legend, He is not a myth, He is not a theory, He is not an idea, He is not a philosophy, He is the Son of God, the one who came in the flesh, who took our sins upon Himself, was crucified, and was raised again the third day.

We can easily have a protracted debate as to the day that Jesus rose from the dead, we can easily go down rabbit trail after rabbit trail, but the core issue of import is that He is risen! Christ is risen, and He conquered death! Christ is risen, and we will likewise rise with Him on that glorious day.

Since the beginning, the enemy and the world have fought against the reality of the resurrection of Christ. The enemy knows he was defeated on that great day, he knows that if we have died in Him, we shall also rise in Him, and his mission since the beginning has always been to separate us from the love of God, to sow doubt in our hearts, and to present us with different paths other than Christ Jesus.

‘Christ is risen’, the three most beautiful words to the heart of the believer. Christ conquered death, He conquered the grave, and we live today not as those who have no hope of eternity, not as those who have resigned themselves to believing that once this life is done all that remains is wormy earth, but as ones who know beyond doubt and without equivocation that Jesus is alive, He lives, and because He lives we stand in the eye of the storm knowing that faithfulness will always be rewarded, and that obedience is better than sacrifice.


With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Centurion

The day began like any other and the centurion had no reason to suspect it would end any differently than the previous days. He double checked his uniform making sure that everything was in order, taking pride in his appearance. He was after all a representative of Rome, a representative of Caesar and he had to look the part. He spit shined the chest ornaments on his breastplate every night, made certain there was nothing out of place on the crest of his helmet, sheathed his sword, stuck it in his baldric, and he knew that he was ready.

He was centurion, the leader of one hundred men, and though he would have preferred a different assignment, duty was duty, and Rome needed him here. Today was just another day in a long line of days wherein he and his men would have to guard the criminals being put to death. There were better assignments to be had, but there were also worse. At first the cries of the men hanging on crosses ate at his nerves but with time he learned to tune out the screams. It was a job; nothing more. As far as he was concerned everyone who had to endure the cross had done something to deserve it. Justice was justice, and sometimes justice was messy.

Today there were three men scheduled for crucifixion; two criminals and one whom the priests had taken an interest in. The crowd had already swelled to a size he had not seen before, and this was worrisome. He gave orders to his men to be vigilant, and waited for the three men to make their way up to the hilltop. Once they got there, everything was mechanical; they’d done it so many times before, that by now they’d fallen into a rhythm of sorts. The centurion gave the orders, his men obeyed, and with the practiced ease of a repetitive movement their task was done. Three men hanging on three crosses, the hardest part of the job behind them, and now all that remained was the wait.

To pass the time his men cast lots for the garments of the condemned, but he was centurion and he could not be seen associating with his men in such a manner. He went off to the side leaned on his spear for a more comfortable position, and waited. They would be here for some time; it took days for the crucified to expire, and sometimes the soldiers would just break the legs of the condemned to aid them in a quicker death. It was not yet time for this however, you could not make their death too quick, they had sins and crimes to pay for and the only accepted currency for payment was pain and suffering.

The centurion gazed at the three men, men who would never again see another sunrise, men who would never again taste the salt air on their lips, and the One in the middle caught his eye. He was in far worse shape than the other two, bloodied and bruised. One could see he had not had an easy life, and what he had endured recently stirred compassion in the heart of the centurion. There was something different about this man, he couldn’t place it, or define it, but there was definitely something different about Him. He’d noticed it even back when his soldiers were hammering in the nails. He did not cry out like the others, He did not whimper, He did not proclaim his innocence, even bloodied and bruised and hanging on a cross there was dignity and nobility there.

Why couldn’t the others see this? Why so much hatred for this man? They passed by His cross, the elders the scribes and the chief priests, the centurion knew them by their garments, and they wagged their fingers at Him, and mocked Him and bade Him to come down off the cross.

The centurion stood straighter, and fixed his gaze upon the Man in the middle, he wanted to see his reaction to the hatred of those standing below. To his surprise the Man said nothing, He simply looked over the passing crowd and there was forgiveness in His eyes.

This too stunned the Centurion because most often those hanging upon the crosses would spit at those passing by, they would swear at them, or sometimes beg them for water. None since he had been stationed here, none since he had been detailed to oversee and guard the condemned had ever had forgiveness in their eyes.

The sixth hour came and suddenly there was darkness. The centurion was not a superstitious man, but one didn’t have to be superstitious to see the oddity in this. For three hours there was darkness over the whole land, yet those who mocked Him didn’t seem to notice. They continued to shout out there venomous insults, they continued to mock Him, and all the while the Man in the middle emanated forgiveness.

The more he stared at this man, the more the centurion wanted to be closer to Him. Suddenly He shouted something in Hebrew, and those who stood by started to whisper among themselves. The centurion did not know what he had said, but judging by the reaction of the people it must have been something important. He drew closer, and the centurion now stood opposite the Man in the middle, hanging on the cross, His blood mingling with the earth below.

Mark 15:37-39, “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

No one knows what became of the centurion, his name, his life, have been lost to time. What is known however by his declaration is that he was never the same again. When we bear witness to the sufferings of Christ, we are convinced of His divinity, when we are convinced of His divinity we begin to confess with our mouths that truly He is the Son of God, and whenever we confess with our mouths that Jesus is the Son of God, we will be heard. Even though you don’t realize it at the time, someone will always hear our confession of faith. The centurion did not speak these words so he might be heard; he spoke them in wonder and reverence, and even though his name is lost to us, his words remain. ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’

With Love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on the Day of Days

It was the most decisive day not merely in human history but in the history of the universe. Every created being in the spirit world held its breath, transfixed by the sight of the Son of Man bruised and bloodied, carrying His cross, weighed down more by the sins of mankind than the weight of the cross itself. He had come to the end of His journey here on earth, and every being in heaven stood in awe of He who came to do the will of the Father. They knew that victory was at hand, that the powers of darkness would be overrun on that day, that death and the grave would be conquered and God’s beloved creation would have its redeemer.

Justice and love were reconciled on that day, and the full measure of God’s love was on full display for the universe to see. The enemy trembled for he likewise knew what this meant, and try as he might to keep Jesus from going to the cross, promising Him the world itself, the greatest love and the greatest obedience was made manifest in Christ that day.

We have come upon the season of remembrance, the season wherein we remember Golgotha, the season wherein we remember what Jesus did for us, and although this knowledge of God’s perfect love for His creation, and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us ought to be in our hearts in perpetuity, it is in this time that we seem to remember all the more.

For the past few days I’ve been alone with God, taking advantage of the few free days I had and heading off into the wilderness, or as into the wilderness as I could get within a day’s drive which put me in the badlands of South Dakota. I’ve been spending my time reading the Word, praying, and driving up to a local coffee shop with free Wi-Fi to post these teachings. It was inevitable that my scripture reading would gravitate toward the trial, the crucifixion, the death and the resurrection of Christ, and today I just wanted to share some thoughts on that day of days, and some of the individuals that stood out as I re-read certain scripture passages.

The first thought I want to share with you, is that it is a truly disastrous thing to be tethered to a religion and not to Jesus. The priests condemned Christ. They accused Him falsely, they lied about Him, they mocked Him, they wanted to see Him dead, and this bothered them not a bit. They did however keep themselves from entering the Praetorium for fear of defiling themselves; only then were their sensibilities aroused. That is the difference between worshiping Jesus, and worshiping a religion. When you worship religion rather than the living Christ, it is inevitable that you will become a hypocrite, one who has no qualms about stabbing another in the back, but takes umbrage when someone in their presence eats a slice of bacon. Now before this discussion derails, and I have to answer thirty e-mails on why I advocate the eating of the swine, I do not, but I do not condemn it either. So will eating a slice of bacon send you to hell? No! Is it probably wise to cut back on it if your cholesterol’s pushing the upper triple digit echelon? Yes!

The second thought I want to share with you is that it is tragic to confess only to men and not to Jesus. Judas realized his mistake, he went back to the priests, trying to give back the thirty pieces of silver the chief priests and the elders had paid him. He made an impassioned speech saying ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!’ And their response was, ‘What is it to us? You see to it!’ Throwing down the silver pieces in the temple, Judas departed and summarily hanged himself. While Judas is dangling from a tree branch, the priests pick up every silver piece, and with a detachment that I found deeply troublesome decide to buy a plot of land with it.

‘We can’t put it back in the treasury, these coins are the price of blood’, they reasoned to themselves. But you’re the ones who paid Judas to betray his Master, you’re the cause of all this, and now you act pious? Now, the law matters? Now after all you’ve done, now you grow a conscience?

You will always find forgiveness at the foot of the cross, you will always find grace at the foot of the cross, you will always find mercy at the foot of the cross, and you will always find compassion at the foot of the cross. If men you trusted have hurt you, go to the cross, talk to Jesus, He is there to listen.

The third thought I want to share with you today, is that no good can come of following after the crowd and not after the truth. We see this played out in our modern era, just as we saw it played out two thousand years ago. Men are drawn to crowds, and if enough people get behind a movement, if enough people get behind a preacher, then at a certain point men don’t question whether it’s the truth anymore, they just follow the crowd. Seek the truth, know the truth, live the truth, and follow the truth even if you remain alone on your journey. The path is narrow, we walk single file toward the eternity that God has prepared for us.

Of all the things I’ve listed however, none hold a candle to the final thought I want to share with you, the fact that the greatest disaster of one’s existence is to one day stand before God without having had their sins forgiven. Jesus bore our sins, in fact 2 Corinthians tells us that He was made sin for us, and as such we see how the justice of God treats sin. If we reject His forgiveness, if we reject His grace all that remains is the fearful expectation of God’s eternal judgment.

Love compelled Jesus to suffer, love compelled Jesus to die, love for you and love for me, and for all those who believe in Him. Thank God for His love; thank God for His Son; thank God for His mercy; thank God for His grace;

Matthew 27:29-35, “When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. Then when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why Did Jesus Have To Die?

Matthew 26:2, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

To this day opinions on why Jesus had to die vary wildly. Through the prism of individual understanding you can put a group of people in a room, ask them the same question and get a dozen different answers. I’m sure you’ve seen the interviews of people on the street asked a variation of this question, and some of the answers made you smile, others made you cringe, and others made you shed a tear. I’ve heard it all, from ‘Jesus had to die so I could prosper’, to ‘Jesus had to die so I could be blessed’, and everyone’s answer to this question seems to be a little different, a little nuanced and unique.

Today I want to look at this most important of questions, why Jesus had to go to the cross, why He had to be delivered up to be crucified, and why He had to die through the prism of some of His contemporaries, those that were there, men who either had a hand in, or witnessed the death of the Son of God, as well as Christ’s own answer.

We begin with the reasoning of the accusers, those who plotted against Christ, those who set the wheels that led to His crucifixion in motion. Their reasoning was steeped in self-interest, but lest the Romans get a clue of their plotting and scheming, the public reasons why Jesus had to be crucified was that He called Himself a King, that He called Himself the Son of God, that He spoke against the temple, that He forbade His followers from paying taxes, and that He did not respect the Law.

Luke 23:2, “And they began to accuse Him, saying, ‘we found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”

Mark 14:58, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.”

It was not for something as noble as defending the temple or the law or Caesar himself that these scribes and Pharisees plotted against Jesus and accused Him, it was because He was cutting into their profits, He was causing a stir, people were beginning to follow after Him, and they didn’t want the competition. They neither investigated nor cared to investigate the truth of who Jesus was; they simply accused Him to protect their power, to protect their wealth, and to protect their standing among the people.

The reasoning of Pilate of why Jesus had to go to the cross has always fascinated me, because here was a man who found no fault in Christ. As much as His accusers railed against Him, as much as they tried to stir up Pilate’s patriotic zeal by saying that Christ was forbidding Jews to pay taxes to Caesar, when it was all said and done, Pilate still found no fault in Christ.

So why did He acquiesce? Why did he consent to sending an innocent man to the cross? Because the voices of the accusers scared him, as they threated to take the matter to Caesar himself, and inform him that Pilate did nothing to silence the troublemaker known as Jesus. Another reason I believe Pilate consented to the crucifixion of Christ is because His plan to follow Jewish tradition and present two men, one of whom would be let go backfired as the crowd chose Barabbas. Before he gave the people a choice as to who they would like to see obtain their freedom Pilate had Jesus scourged hoping to satisfy the bloodlust of the Pharisees and those who supported them, but to no end. They chose a murderer over the Son of God, and no matter how Pilate tried he couldn’t change their mind.

He went on to wash his hands, thinking this would absolve him of the responsibility, he tried to stifle his guilt by saying it was a Jewish problem but to no avail. The guilt that plagued him through the years finally became too much, and in the end Pilate took his own life.

As far as the Disciples of Christ are concerned, those who ought to have known the truth of why Jesus had to go to the cross and die because He had told them time and time again, they were discombobulated, disoriented, running to and fro absent of purpose or direction. In an instant they had forgotten all that Jesus had taught them, men without a leader, uncertain of tomorrow.

Although the thief hung on a cross next to Jesus, in agony and the fearful expectation of death, it seems he had a better understanding of why this was happening to Christ, than His disciples did at the time. It was the thief on the cross who rebuked the other by telling him that they were receiving the due reward of their deeds, but that Christ had done nothing wrong. A criminal, a thief, realized what the scribes and Pharisees would not, that Christ had done nothing wrong, yet He hung on a cross beside him.

Finally we come to Christ’s reasons why He had to go to the cross and why He had to die, and in His words we find hope and rest in this present world. By Christ’s own words, He had to carry the cross of our shame, He had to carry the cross of our sins, He had to hang upon the wood, because He came to do the will of the Father, He came to be the sacrificial Lamb, He came to fulfill the Scriptures, and He came to give eternal life.

John 14:30-31, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment so I do. Arise, let us go from here.”

John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

It had to be, there was no other way, and knowing this, He went like a lamb to the slaughter, that you and I may be reconciled unto God, that you and I may obtain salvation, that you and I may know the depth of His love, and the height of His grace.

So now, let us turn our gaze from those who were there, and their reasoning for why Jesus had to die, and look within our own hearts and answer the question for ourselves. Who is Jesus to you today? Is He your Lord and your King, is He the price of your redemption, is He your all in all, or is He just a nice guy, a good teacher, perhaps even a prophet but nothing more than that?

If He is anything less than Lord, King and Savior, if He is anything less than your all in all, then like so many before you, you have the wrong perception of why Jesus had to die.

Consider this: Jesus had to die, that you might have life in Him!

With Love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In The Garden

His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was a distant memory now. The voices of the multitude who went before, and those who followed after the colt upon which Jesus sat crying out ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ no longer echoed in His ears. The time had come, it was upon Him, and those selfsame people who once spread their garments on the road, as He passed by would soon cry out ‘crucify Him!’ He knew what He was about to endure. He had lived with the expectation of this day all of His adult life, and every sermon, every miracle, every step, and every breath, had led up to this one day, the day of days that would change the history of the world.

He knew that the one known as Judas was on his way, He knew that He would be betrayed with a kiss, He knew the contempt with which He would be treated, the pain that was sure to come, the cross He would have to carry, and the nails that would pierce His flesh. Jesus knew it all, every painful and heart wrenching detail, this is why He was now in the garden.

It was not His first time here; he was accustomed to it, praying to the Father, communing with Him under the stars and in the still of the night, but this time was different; the agony was all consuming.

Jesus knew the benefits of prayer, not just a passing ‘thank you Lord’ at the dinner table, but prolonged and protracted and earnest prayer. He knew He needed strength, He knew He needed courage to face what was to come, and so He came to the garden to pray.

Deeply distressed, He left most of his disciples behind, and took Peter, James and John with Him, telling them to watch and pray as He went a little farther, fell on the ground and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.

But it was not possible, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, and as He always had throughout His time here on earth, Jesus submitted to the Father saying, ‘nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.’

An angel of the Lord appeared from heaven, strengthening him, yet He continued to pray. His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground yet He continued to pray. Jesus prayed, and when the time had come He rose up from prayer.

He came back to find his disciples sleeping, not once not twice but three times, and in His loving way He reminded them that it was of paramount importance that they watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. To the last He was the epitome of love; to the last He was the epitome of Rabbi, or teacher.

When was the last time you visited the garden? That place of brokenness and anguish, that place of sorrow and self-renunciation, where knowing that you will have to sacrifice and endure for the cause of Christ, you submit to His will and say, Your will be done in my life oh God?’

If Christ is our chief example, then we must do as Christ did, and not forsake those things which He not only practiced but encouraged His disciples to practice. In your season of sorrow, in your season of grief, in your season of anguish, in your season of uncertainty, go to your garden and pray. Whatever your garden might be, that place where you go to fellowship with God, that place wherein you are accustomed to communing with Him, when life seems overwhelming, go to that place and pray. Pray through the anguish, pray through the hurt, pray through the sorrow, until you feel the presence of God, until He comes to strengthen you, until you rise from prayer knowing that come what may you will stand your ground, come what may you will do the Father’s will, come what may you will serve and obey.

If it wasn’t easy for Jesus, it won’t be easy for you. If Jesus agonized and prayed more earnestly still, then we must likewise agonize and pray more earnestly when situations arise in our lives that threaten to capsize us. The answer will come. Perhaps not in the way you were expecting it, perhaps not in the way you envisioned it, perhaps not in the form of an angel or a blinding light, but the answer will come.

In a world that is growing more desperate, fractured and despondent with each passing day, the frequency with which we visit the garden must only increase and not decrease. It is in the garden, in that quiet place of fellowship where it’s only you and God that we will find the necessary strength, comfort and peace for the coming days.

Mark 14:38, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is truly ready but the flesh is weak.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Three Questions!

Questions are an integral part of life. From the moment we are able to slap together a few words and make up a sentence we start asking questions up until the moment we breathe our last. We ask questions of others, we are asked questions ourselves, and often times we even ask our own selves questions, staring into the mirror and working up the courage to give an honest answer. Some questions we answer, others we do not, and others we cannot because we just don’t know the answer, and the cordial manner in which we answer the questions we are asked is largely dependent on who’s asking and what their reason for asking them are.

There are however questions that God asks us, and these questions we are obliged and obligated to answer. Today I want to discuss three questions that God asks every man, and it is important that we answer because our answers will decide not only this life, but eternity itself.

The first question God asks is ‘Where are you?’

Genesis 3:7-9, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?”

After Adam sinned, he hid. Full of shame, full of fear, naked and trying to sow together some fig leaves, Adam and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and they hid.

‘Where are you?’ the voice of God rang out. ‘Where are you?’ the selfsame question billions of people hear, while they likewise hide from the face of God because sin generates shame, and it generates fear, and it generates regret. Yes, billions upon billions of people are playing hide and seek with God among the trees, because they are either unwilling to face Him, or too ashamed to show their face.

We live in a fallen world, a world full of murder, a world full of false religions, a world full of injustice, indifference, selfishness and greed. God did not make the world this way, He made a clean world which we defiled and destroyed, a world that looks nothing like the one God had in mind when He made the firmament and divided the waters.

Since the beginning sin has been our ruin, sin has been our shame, sin has been our downfall, and though we might think ourselves enlightened and evolved, we are still the same sinful creature who rebelled and disobeyed God’s command trying to hide our shame with a fig leaf or two. Sin is the shame of the nations, and shame causes men to hide from the face of God.

‘Where are you?’ The voice of God thunders today as clearly as it did the day He walked in the garden looking for His creation. ‘Where are you?’ How long has it been since you were alone with Him? How long as it been since you felt His presence in our heart? How long has it been since you felt His joy? How long as it been since you’ve felt His peace?

‘Where are you?’ He hasn’t gone anywhere, He’s not the one hiding among the trees, God’s desire remains the same today as it did then, to commune and fellowship with His creation. It is we who are hiding from the face of God because of the shame that sin has produced in us.

If this message is for you, I urge you, and beseech you, the next time you hear God asking where you are, say ‘I am here Lord! Receive me, and clean me, and mold me, and wash me in the blood of your Son. I will no longer hide from Your holy face, I will stand before you in humility and repentance knowing that You forgive, and You restore, and You renew.’

The second question God asks is ‘Who are you?’

Genesis 27:15-19, “Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elders on Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. So he went to his father and said, ‘My father’; and he said, ‘Here I am. Who are you my son?’ And Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”

Isaac and Rebekah were people of God, of this there can be no doubt; however they lacked in parenting skills, and in encouraging unity within the family. Throughout their children’s lives they maintained, and perpetuated this division between their sons Jacob and Esau, Rebekah constantly favoring Jacob and Isaac constantly favoring Esau. As Isaac neared the end of his earthly journey the time came to bless his firstborn. Rebekah overcome by the desire to see her favored son succeed, and trying to somehow influence his destiny, helps Jacob deceive his own father, as he comes to receive the blessing rightly due Esau.

Isaac was all but blind, relying more on his sense of touch and his sense of smell, and as Jacob came in covered in the skins of kids of the goats, with savory food and bread Isaac asked, ‘who are you my son?’ Without missing a beat, Jacob answers, ‘I am Esau your firstborn.’

The years passed and the curse of this singular deception plagued Isaac throughout his life. Having run far from home, living a life far from God, mired in unscrupulous business dealings, he comes to live the deception, he becomes the deceiver he once merely pretended to be. Even those he trusted deceived him as he once deceived, receiving Leah as wife from the hands of Laban rather than Rachel, because there are no actions absent of consequence, and some things we do in a moment of passion, or in a moment of overwhelming selfishness stay with us as a millstone around our necks for the rest of our lives.

After twenty years Jacob begins to journey the long road home, and at Penuel he wrestles with the angel of the Lord, who asks him the same questions his father had asked all those years ago.

‘Who are you? What is your name?’ This time Jacob has no choice but to speak the truth, because God is God and not blind Isaac, and no matter how one might try the can’t put one over on Him. ‘I am Jacob’ he answered, the deceiver, the supplanter the, the liar. The mirror that God placed before him was unsparing, and it was on that day that Jacob saw himself as what he truly was and not what he thought himself to be.

‘Who are you?’

Are you just a handful of dirt that walks this earth for a few decades full of disappointments and setbacks and aches and pains and heartache? Are you just the number on your birth certificate or your death certificate? Who are you really? If we are honest and forthright with ourselves we soon come to realize that we are nothing special. We are a mist that shimmers in the sunlight and dissipates a blade of grass beaten by the wind, a raindrop that falls to the earth and is soon forgotten among the billions of raindrops that accompany us.

Absent of God, we are that handful of dirt; we are just that number that is being kept in a ledger or a database somewhere. Absent of God, we are nothing, coming from nowhere and going nowhere, existing merely to exist until the day we no longer do.

Only God gives worth to man. In His eyes we are precious, and priceless and loved. Who are you? If you are in Christ, then you are nobility made so by His death on Golgotha. The Son of God died for a nothing like me that I may be something in Him.

The third question God asks is ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

Mark 10:46-52, “Then they came to Jericho and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus Son of David have mercy on me!’ Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.’ And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘what do you want Me to do for you?’ The blind man said to Him, Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.”

A blind beggar named Bartimaeus, reaches out from the gutters of this life, and as recompense he receives his healing. After crying out, after being told he was a nuisance, and crying out all the more, Jesus stands still, commands him to be called and as Bartimaeus stands before him, he is asked this most complex question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Throughout the history of the Bible, God only ever signed three blank checks. Solomon was the first, and he wrote ‘wisdom’ upon his, Elisha was the second and he wrote ‘a double portion of the Holy Spirit on his’, and Bartimaeus was the third man to have received a signed blank check from God and upon his he wrote ‘to receive my sight.’

So, what do you want from Him? What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Do you want him to give you good health? Do you want him to give you a nice retirement absent of lack or need? Do you want to see your children settled down, and fulfilled? What do you want Him to do for you? You hold a blank check in your hand, signed with the precious blood of the One who died for your sins and mine. Do not squander this opportunity; do not ask for something temporal and fleeting. Choose wisely and write ‘heaven’ on your blank check, then do your utmost to convince those who’ve already written ‘hell’ on theirs, to rethink their position, and likewise choose heaven.

These are the three questions that God asks of every man, three questions that we all answer, whether by our action or inaction, by our silence or our vociferous rebellion. Have you answered these three questions? If you have not, I submit to you that there is no better time than right now!

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Six Things We Must Remember As Believers! Part 2

The second thing we must remember as believers is that we have passed from death to life!

1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.”

Throughout the first epistle of John we find the words ‘we know’ or ‘you know’. This is not accidental, but was purposefully inspired by the Holy Spirit to awaken us to the great truth that our faith in Jesus produces certainty concerning the spiritual aspects of our lives in Christ.

We know! We don’t hope, we don’t guess, we don’t suppose, we don’t assume, we know that we have passed from death to life. One way in which John tells us that we know we have passed from death to life is that we love the brethren.

It is our duty to love the brethren, and love them enough to tell them the truth. Only when we stand on the truth of God’s Word, and present it faithfully do we truly love the brethren; only then can we know that we have passed from death to life. The house of God is being undermined from within because men don’t love the brethren enough to preach the gospel of Christ in its entirety. It is neither love nor compassion to coddle sin, it is neither love nor compassion to see an individual headed toward destruction and do nothing about it for fear of offending them. I have lost friendships, the ministry has lost supporters, I’ve been asked never to return to certain churches after I’ve spoken simply because I loved enough to speak the untainted truth. Is it easy? By no means! Do you get a knot in your stomach each time you have to speak a difficult truth to someone you love? Most definitively! No matter how uncomfortable however, no matter how uncharacteristic it might be of you to be confrontational, if you have passed from death to life, then you must love the brethren enough to speak the truth.

The third thing we must remember as believers is that all things work together for good to those who love God.

Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

On the surface it sounds simple enough, but we must believe that something will work out for good even when we can’t understand it or see it with our physical eyes. There are certain things that happen in the world, there are certain things that happen within families in which we cannot see the good. No matter how we try to reason with our physical mind, no matter how much we try to see how it can possibly work together for good, at the present time we just can’t see it. Nevertheless, we must have the unshakable faith that it will.

The Word of God specifies that all things work together for good to those who love God. Not just a few things, not just some things, not even most things, but all things work together for good. As I said, there are certain things I just can’t explain in the present. How can the passing of a mother of eight or ten children work together for good? I do not know, but I have faith that it will because God’s Word says it will. If we perceive this present life with eyes of flesh, if we look at events, circumstances and tragedies through the prism of human understanding, we will inevitably gaze towards heaven and cry aloud ‘why God? Why?’ If however we are resolute in our faith that indeed although we might not understand it momentarily God does have a plan, and whether tomorrow, a week from now or a year from now that tragedy, that event or that circumstance will work together for good because we love God, then we will be at peace and rest in the knowledge that our heavenly Father will make a way where there seems to be no way.

The fourth thing we must remember as believers is that this is not our permanent home!

Hebrews 13:14, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”

If only we would keep this truth at the forefront of our minds in perpetuity, it would save us much heartache and disappointment. We have no continuing city here; this is not our permanent home; we are just passing through, sort of like renting a motel room on the way to our final destination.

What puzzles me are the preachers and teachers that speak of the kingdom of God, that speak of the city to come, yet do all that is in their power to do to build kingdoms here on earth, clinging to this temporary home as though it was their permanent one. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge anyone who has a nice home, I don’t begrudge anyone who has nice furniture, but when the sum of our existence can be boiled down to getting bigger and more expensive stuff, then yes, there is a problem. We must remember that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. If we consider our treasure to be possessions, then our heart is tethered to the possessions and not to eternity with God.

We have no continuing city here, and as such we must consider that all the things we possess, whether they be homes, cars, or precious metals are only ours temporarily. If called upon to surrender these things for the cause of Christ, then our hearts must be so set on the heavenly things that we will neither hesitate nor murmur if and when such a time comes.

Never mind denying Christ in the face of persecution. I can say with certainty that many nominal and lukewarm Christians today would deny Christ if they were merely threatened with the loss of their homes or their livelihood.

We must be willing to forfeit the earthly things for the heavenly ones; we must be ready to give it all up for the cause of Christ, and remembering that we have no continuing city here, remembering that this is not our permanent home will make letting go a whole lot easier.

The fifth thing we must remember as believers is that we are living epistles of Christ!

2 Corinthians 3:2-3, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; You are manifestly an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

Not only are we epistles of Christ, we are known and read by all men. If only they remembered this truth, many who claim the name of Christ, and identify themselves as believers wouldn’t be doing the things they are doing. You are known and read by all men, live accordingly; you are known and read by all men, let them see Jesus in you; You are known and ready by all men, do not trifle with sin and the things of the world. There is much shame brought to the house of God because we forget what we ought to remember, and believe that all we really have to do is say we’re a Christian and it makes it so. We are manifestly epistles of Christ, this means that we are unmistakably and obviously epistles of Christ. By our speech, by our conduct, by our actions, by our very lives, those who know and read us shouldn’t have to guess or wonder if we are believers, they shouldn’t have to guess or wonder if we are Christians, they should know automatically, and without equivocation that we are children of the most High God, redeemed and reconciled unto Him by the blood of His Son.

If our actions do not differ from those of the world, if our conduct does not differ from that of the world, if our speech does not differ from that of the world, then how can we manifestly be epistles of Christ?

‘But that’s legalistic brother Mike, we can’t tell people how they’re supposed to live or how they’re supposed to conduct themselves! What about liberty in Christ?’

No, it’s not legalism it’s scripture, it’s the Bible, it’s the word of God and it is this Word that will judge us on that great and terrible day of the Lord. As far as liberty in Christ is concerned, we have the liberty to seek Him, to desire Him, to know Him, not to follow after the lusts of the flesh.

1 Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘be holy, for I am holy.”

You can disagree with my opinion, you can disregard the things I say, it is a free country after all, for now anyway, but for the sake of your eternal soul I pray you do not disregard or dismiss the Word of God.

The sixth thing we must remember as believers is that we are the temple of God!

1 Corinthians 3:16-17, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

Not only are we manifestly epistles of Christ, known and read by all men, but we are also the temple of God. Paul writes to the Corinthians and asks them a straightforward but somewhat rhetorical question: ‘Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you?’

Of course they knew that they were the temple of God, of course they knew that the spirit of God dwelt in them, but Paul felt the need to remind them that anyone who defiles the temple of God will also be destroyed by God.

I’ve heard the first verse of this passage quoted often enough in churches, as a way of pandering to people’s pride and as a way of bolstering their self-esteem, but very rarely have I heard the continuation of Paul’s train of thought quoted, wherein God will destroy those who defile His temple.

‘Yes, you are the temple of God; Yes the spirit of God dwells in you; look at the person next to you and say ‘I’m the temple of God!’ when you go home look in the mirror and say ‘the Spirit of God dwells inside me!’

All true, all good, but when you look to the person next to you, or when you look in the mirror why not remind yourself that since you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells inside you if you defile the temple, God will destroy you?

‘But brother Mike that’s so harsh, that’s so unloving, that’s so unmerciful.’

Such responses are rooted in feelings, they are rooted in the emotions of the flesh, and they are only harsh and unloving and unmerciful, at least from some people’s perspective, if we actively defile the temple of God.

God is just, He is righteous and He is holy; these are the attributes we often forget to mention when declaring that God is love. Yes, God is all these things, and as such we must walk with wisdom, keep ourselves from idols, and conduct ourselves with holiness in every area of our lives.

As much as men would like to, there is no changing the Word of God, and knowing that He remains the same yesterday, today and forevermore, whenever the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance the things that Jesus said, whenever He convicts us of certain things in our lives may we be wise and prudent and submit to His will in all things.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Six Things We Must Remember As Believers! Part 1

I begin this post with the premise that man is an inherently forgetful creature. We forget everything from where we left our keys, to anniversaries, to where we parked our car, and if it were only these things we were forgetful of it would not be an important enough issue to warrant an entire teaching, yet we often forget spiritual things as well, and this is something that does deserve further scrutiny.

If anyone still doubts that we as human beings are forgetful in pretty much every area of our lives, we need look no further than the history of Israel throughout the centuries in order to dispel any lingering reservations on the matter. The visible cycle that has permeated the history of Israel can be summed up in no more than once sentence. Israel forgets its God, Israel rebels against its God, Israel gives itself over to idols, God sends judgment upon Israel, Israel repents, God blesses Israel, and the cycle begins anew all over again. Yes, man is a profoundly forgetful creature, and even we as believers often forget the truths of God’s word, we forget the promises of God, and begin to grow doubtful, lose hope, and sometimes even panic because along the way we’ve forgotten certain elemental truths that should always be close to our hearts.

Even with the aid of the Holy Spirit, who is tasked with bringing to our remembrance all the things Jesus said to us, we seem to be suffering from a mass attention deficit wherein if anything in our peripheral vision catches our eye, we go off and chase it thinking it is the oasis we’ve been searching for, until tired, and hungry, and thirsty and sunblind, and far from Him, we realize it was only a mirage.

Whether you are a babe in Christ, or a seasoned warrior, whether you’ve known Him for days or for decades, the following six things are what we must remember as believers in perpetuity.

The first thing we must remember as believers is that the Son of God came to bring salvation!

1 John 5:18-21, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

I want to take a minute and just unpack this passage because there are certain things that it implies with which even some of the most renowned spiritual leaders of our time tend to disagree. First, is the truth that those who have been born of God keep themselves, and the wicked one does not touch them. To keep oneself, is to guard oneself, it is to be aware that we have an enemy who roams about seeking whom he may devour, but also that our very flesh wars against us in perpetuity. If we have been born of God, then we guard our hearts, we guard our eyes, we guard our ears, we guard our tongues, and if we are always on guard, the wicked one does not touch us.

It is said that near the Italian city of Naples, once known as Neapolis there is an interesting and unique cave known as the Grotta Del Cane which to this day draws tourists from around the world. The reason that it is visited so often is its peculiarity. Being filled with carbon dioxide, the bottom half of the cave is poisonous, even lethal. Since carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, it pools in the bottom three feet of the cave. As long as visitors walk upright, there is no danger, but as soon as someone would sit down to rest they would die of asphyxia. The world around us is like this cave, it is full of sin, and lies under the sway of the wicked one. As long as our heads are raised high, and our gaze is fixed toward heavenly things, we will not be poisoned by the sin and deception of this world, but the moment we try to find our rest here, the moment we sit for a spell and stop pressing ever onward we are in danger. We cannot flirt with sin, because it is deadly. We cannot flirt with the world because it will overwhelm us and asphyxiate our spiritual man just as sure as the carbon dioxide in the aforementioned cave does to the unsuspecting who need to rest.

The second thing this passage implies, the one thing our illustrious and illuminated spiritual leaders have a hard time with and some even outright deny is the singularity of Christ as the one means by which we may obtain eternal life with God.

“This is the true God and eternal life!”

It does not say this is one of many gods, it does not say this is one of many paths, it does not say this is one of many truths; ‘we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.’

Do you not think that if there was any other way for man to be reconciled unto God He would have found it? Do you not think that if there was a means by which the Father could have spared His Son He would not have implemented it? I submit to you that God would have readily slaughtered all the cattle on a thousand hills, even all the cattle on ten thousand hills, the world would have been one giant funeral pyre of rams and sheep and doves and heifers if it could have spared His Son the agony of hanging on a cross and dying for mankind’s sins.

If there was any other way than for Jesus to go to the cross, no matter what that way might have been, God would have done it. But there was no other way to satisfy the justice of God, there was no other way to satisfy the righteousness and holiness of God, and so the Son stood before the Father and said ‘I will go!’

Jesus was nailed to a cross, He bled and He died! The Son of God died, and we diminish His death by shrugging our shoulders, and rolling our eyes and saying that there are more ways than One by which man can obtain salvation, or by which man can have eternal life.

You pompous windbags, you whitewashed tombs, you betray your Lord and your God, you trample on the blood of His sacrifice, you trample the Son of God underfoot because you are fearful of men’s reprisal, and because you want the world to love you. Since when does your opinion supersede the Sacred Word? Since when do your feelings trump the righteousness and justice of almighty God? If you will not speak truth, then be silent! If you will not stand for Christ, then let not His name pass your lips again, for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Repent you workers of iniquity, repent you rabid and ravenous wolves who not only devour the sheep of God’s pasture, but break their bones and suck the marrow. You butcher the innocent and think nothing of it; you lead the sheep astray and don’t lose a second’s worth of sleep over it. Look in the mirror of God’s Word and see your reflection clear you whose titles and accolades and pride have blinded you to the reality that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. God’s judgment is at the door, and it will begin with you who preach a tainted gospel, you who feed the sheep poison and call it spiritual succor, and you who despise the name of the Lord.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Keep yourselves! Don’t expect your husband to keep you from idols, don’t expect your wife to keep you from idols, don’t expect the deacons, the ushers, the worship leader or even your pastor to keep you from idols, keep yourselves from idols. No, we no longer bow to graven images, we no longer go to altars made of stone, but there are a multitude of idols within the house of God nevertheless. They’ve changed form, but their function is still the same, to replace God and the love for Him in your heart. We don’t go to church because we desire more of Jesus, we go to church because we desire for Jesus to give us more money. Then it is money that is your idol, it is money that is your substitute god, and not the one true God. This is just one example, but there are many more to be had. Whatever it is that takes the place of God in one’s heart, whether it be possessions, positions, or power, it has become their idol, and they worship it with zeal. Keep yourselves from idols, and serve the one true God in spirit and in truth.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.