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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A New Low!

Most of you know I don’t do much politicking. In fact, I abhor politics like some abhor root canals, prostate exams, or five o’clock traffic.

Even though I am currently in Romania, I do keep abreast of what is happening in the grand ole’ US of A, and this past weekend I read that the executive branch is actively working toward coercing the judicial branch of government, calling upon it to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

As I read this the only image to come to my mind was that of a man in the middle of the ocean clinging to a giant boulder even though it was gradually dragging him to the bottom of the deep. Somewhere in his mind the man must have known he ought to have let go of the boulder, but his need for self-preservation was overridden by his absolute desire to cling to the boulder at any cost.

We are a nation adrift in the middle of the ocean, clinging to a boulder and refusing to let go of it, even though we’re so far down beneath the surface of the waters the sun is barely a pinprick anymore.

Whether it is God hardening the hearts of men, or men becoming hardened in and of themselves, history teaches us that once a nation, a people, or an empire began the downward descent into the deep it never did let go of what was dragging it down.

It is a diabolical thing to behold what is currently happening in this nation. Upon realizing they could not turn enough towards evil and perversion, they chose to legislate evil and perversion and call it normal. Now, anyone daring to stand for truth, anyone daring to point out the utter disconnect between the will of the people and what our elected officials are doing, is berated and marginalized by a complicit media complex in thrall to the ruling system.

Throughout all these machinations, legislations, amendments and newly enacted laws, the church has been silent, as though distracted by some shiny thing out in the desert, or by the promise of a hundred fold return for their generous offering to the grinning face on television.

As far as the grinning faces are concerned, it is against their self-interest to sound the alarm or point out the reality of what is happening, because they like to have a pacified and placated audience who does not stir but for to write a check.

Evidently, the only way to get a rise out of a preacher today is by threatening to take away their tax exempt status, or to have congressional hearings forcing them to disclose their yearly income. It’s all about them, their selfish needs, and their selfish desires. Just a bunch of pimps offering services at reasonable rates, and as long as they get theirs they are indifferent toward anything else that might be going on.

The handful whose voices are becoming shrill from yelling ‘wake up’ realize that left unchecked, sooner than anyone realizes, it will be a crime punishable by law to stand for righteousness, and call sin, sin.

The enemy we face is playing for keeps, and he is not interested in a truce or an armistice. Especially when he feels as though he has gained ground, has the momentum, and has enough men and women in high office willing to do his bidding.

We are but fools if we think the enemy will let us be if we let him be. We are but fools if we think keeping silent will keep the enemy from getting around to us. It is not the silencing of righteousness, nor is it the crippling of righteousness the enemy is interested in. It is the extermination of righteousness. This is what we must understand in order to rightly contextualize what is presently occurring in America.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Faces and Places

If a picture is powerful enough, no words are necessary!

Ephesians 6:2-3, "'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.'"

Pictures taken at the Vladeni-Podeni retirement home while visiting and distributing food this week.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.





Saturday, February 23, 2013

From the Road

Few things have the ability to pry me away from the keyboard for more than a few hours, and the work we do here in Romania is one of those things.

For those of you who do not know, we have a ministry here, which includes an orphanage as well as an outreach to neighboring communities.

For the past couple days I've been traveling to the more rural areas with a team from Holland, and we've been distributing everything from clothing, to food, to medicine, to hot cocoa and hot dogs.

Yes, they actually brought a portable stove, and they make cocoa for the village children whenever we stop.
Since I haven't posted anything in a couple days, here are a few snapshots.

If they are enjoyed, I will post more over the weekend into Monday, then hopefully once everything gets back to normal we will commense with our teaching series, some articles, and whatever else the Lord will lay on my heart at the time.

For anyone interested, you can find out more about the ministry at www.handofhelp.com . No, I am not trying to plug the work, but I know the work we do and it's good, so I won't shy away from it either.

Though man may not live by bread alone, sometimes it helps to have some bread handy just in case he's without.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.




Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The New Book!

As promised some time ago, the first volume of the study on prayer is now available. After receiving some invaluable advice and feedback, we settled on a new title. The primary reason for this is because there are a handful of other books with the same name, and rather than cause confusion, we thought it best to change the title.

And so, the title of the first volume is:

When Ye Pray: The Anatomy of Prayer!

The book comes in just shy of 330 pages, and as far as my personal estimation goes, none of it is fluff. Lord knows if I wrote for the financial aspect of it, I'd start writing some self-help drivel about how you can shape your future with your positive thoughts, but since it does cost money to print and whatnot, there is a price tag of $14.95.

Since we have some guests from Holand and are planning on an extensive excursion into the rural areas to pass out food, clothing and other needed items, I will leave this up for a few days, perhaps even a week depending on how long we'll be out.

As always, feel free to get a copy, perhaps two and give one to a friend, and if you are so inclined please rate it after you've read it.

The Kindle version should be out shortly, and it will be considerably cheaper for those preferrential to electronic books or on a budget, but for now all you get is the paperback.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.


                             When Ye Pray: The Anatomy of Prayer

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Ten Things Christians Must Stop Doing!

As the prophetic times we are living in are becoming more evident and as those seeking counsel or direction are multiplying, countless individuals have been trumpeting their opinions as to what the children of God ought to be doing.

From the ever popular ‘it’s time to get serious about God,’ (as though God was okay with our playing games with, abusing, and dishonoring Him up until it got difficult for us,) to ‘it’s time to grow up,’ (as though spiritual infancy was acceptable until recently,) many voices are telling the household of faith what they must do, and do today.

The way I see it, before we can start doing something new, we must stop doing what we had been doing up to that point. And so, rather than give you a list of what Christians should do, today I give you a list of the ten things we must stop doing before we start doing anything else.

As always they are in no particular order, and you can prioritize them as needed.

1. Christians must stop allowing being called names to affect them, or the fear of being hated and marginalized to silence them.

2. Christians must stop believing teaching without diligently searching scripture to see if the two are in harmony.

3. Christians must stop believing the words of men in lieu of the words of Jesus.

4. Christians must stop allowing denominational dogma to nullify the written word of Scripture.

5. Christians must stop focusing on one dimension of God exclusively while ignoring the rest.

6. Christians must stop refusing to fellowship with brethren who disagree with them on secondary or tertiary dogma.

7. Christians must stop becoming more like the world in the hopes of winning the world for Christ.

8. Christians must stop neglecting the foundational pillars of the faith such as prayer, fasting, and the diligent study of Scripture.

9. Christians must stop being hypocritical in their actions.

10. Christians must stop cherry-picking verses which validate their preconceived notions, and receive the whole counsel of God.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Enough Blame To Go Around

There are certain things we would rather not deal with and there are certain realizations we would do almost anything to avoid. We realize full well that once we acknowledge something as being true and assume our own culpability in the matter, we have no choice but to attempt and remedy the situation or live with the knowledge of being willing participants in whatever the issue in question might be.

In and of themselves hamburgers don’t make me fat. I am myself culpable for the excess in adipose tissue around my midsection because I choose to eat the aforementioned hamburger rather than a salad or some yummy, yummy tofu.

Although it is easier for me to blame a slow metabolism, less then optimal genes, or an excess of hormones in the I-hope-it-wasn’t-horse burger, the simple yet painful truth is that I chose to eat the hamburger, found an excuse not to exercise, and am starting to see the appeal of stretchy pants as a direct result.

Say what we might about the world we live in, the simple yet painful truth is that the church is culpable and partially responsible for the world’s condition. Darkness grows in direct proportion to the diminishing of the light, and the more the light of truth was dimmed in our churches, in our pulpits and in our hearts, the darker and more lawless the world around us became.

We’ve lowered the once high standard to the point of nonexistence, then wonder to ourselves why our churches seem so much like the world and why the God we claim to serve is no longer felt among us, no matter how much we might clap or sing or yell and demand He make an appearance.

If those called to be the light of the world can’t manage to shine, what can we expect of a world which lies shrouded in darkness and despair? If we who are to be the salt of the earth have lost our savor, what can we expect of those who never knew truth?

Until the church returns to the heart of repentance and humility God has called it to, until the household of faith returns to righteousness and holiness unto God, we can hope the world will change for the better, but we will be hoping in vain.

If righteousness exalts a nation, then lawlessness disparages it.

Somewhere along the way it was agreed upon that rather than daily live out our faith and exemplify Christ Jesus in all we do, it would be much easier to become a political force and attempt to wield our influence whichever way we saw fit.

Sadly, we’ve come to see that in having abandoned righteousness for the sake of political influence, we’re left with neither influence, nor righteousness.

There is a reason the world mocks the church and it’s because the church isn’t living what it’s preaching. It is so obvious, so glaring, that even the blind could spot the inconsistencies.

I realize full well that if I get any deeper into this, some of you will inevitably lash out and I will be branded a moralist or a legalist or whatever else the new buzzword is that men use to shut the mouths of the few who still dare point out the crux of the problem, but you and I both know that if judgment begins with the house of God, repentance must likewise begin with the house of God.

Between looking to be caught away any day and living with the expectation of a great sweeping revival, most believers are failing to live their lives wholly surrendered to Christ and to daily work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Until this occurs, until the church becomes the Church once more, until the Body of Christ is once more animated, alive, and full of power, we will continue to witness an ever darker world, and be ever more vividly aware of our culpability for its condition.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 226

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Hezekiah continued...

2 Kings 19:15-19, “Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands – wood and stone. Therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”

From the reading of the text a handful of questions spring to mind. Who was this Sennacherib? What did he threaten Hezekiah with? How did his words reproach the living God? Was Hezekiah’s fear warranted?

In order to understand why Hezekiah prayed the prayer he did, we must understand the predicament he found himself in, as well as his inability to remedy the situation on his own. Most often, context sheds light on why an individual did a certain thing, on why they chose a certain path, and why they proceeded to do what they did.

Sennacherib was the king of Assyria, at the time a true power which had already invaded Israel, as well as Judah. Seeing as he could not defeat Sennacherib and his armies, Hezekiah sent word to him desiring a truce, and was willing to pay handsomely for it.

Although his heart was in the right place, Hezekiah had as yet not learned the valuable lesson of not bargaining with evil. Whenever we attempt to bargain with the enemy, whenever we try to find common ground, the enemy will always go back on his word, and ask for even more concessions from us.

The Assyrians demanded a tariff consisting of both gold and silver amounting to the equivalent of forty million dollars today. Since Hezekiah did not possess that kind of gold or silver, he took all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and even stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord and from the pillars which he himself had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

Hezekiah hoped to pacify Sennacherib, but his hopes were dashed when an emissary was sent demanding Jerusalem be turned over if peace was to be had.

One of the greatest lessons we can learn from Sennacherib’s actions – because our ever present enemy acts in much the same manner – is that there can be no armistice or truce between ourselves and the darkness.

Throughout the ages men have tried to come to an agreement with the darkness. They have tried to come to an understanding with sin and the enemy of our souls, and every time they got the short end of the stick. Every time they thought they had an understanding, every time they thought they’d struck an agreement, the enemy came back to the bargaining table demanding more, not content with the concessions already agreed upon.

If you give the enemy a finger he will want a hand, if you give him a hand he will want an arm, if you give him an arm he will want your upper torso, and so it goes until nothing is left and all has been surrendered.

Godly as Hezekiah was, well intentioned as he might have been seeking the safety of his people, he began to bargain with the enemy, and with each concession he made the enemy only wanted more.

Unlike many a soul today, Hezekiah had the presence of mind to say no and refuse Sennacherib’s request when he realized it would never end. If he would have given up Jerusalem, it was only a matter of time before Sennacherib asked for the whole of Judah, and step by step Hezekiah and his people would have become subjects of the Assyrians.

The Assyrians had known so many victories that they had grown self-assured, and in their darkened hearts they began to mock the God if Israel. The messenger who had been sent by Sennacherib took it upon himself to remind the people of Judah that though Hezekiah will insist the Lord would deliver them, they ought not to listen to him, but attempt to make peace by agreeing to his terms.

Even before Hezekiah was able to encourage the people and remind them of the faithfulness of their God, the enemy attempted to sow doubt in their hearts and cause them to waiver in their faith.

Although the Assyrian emissary tried to turn the people against Hezekiah, although he tried to sow doubt in their hearts, the people remained silent, and they did not agree to the terms delivered to them.

We are quick to engage the enemy, we are quick to find common ground, we are quick to try and understand their point of view when the best course of action would have been to take a step back and remain silent.

Sometimes all we can do is remain silent and await the salvation of the Lord.

Try as they might to reason with the Assyrian emissary, Hezekiah knew his mind would not be changed, nor would his demands be lessened. Hezekiah realized it would be fruitless and pointless to try and iron out a better deal, because Sennacherib had all the power, and he knew it. As such, Hezekiah ran to God, his refuge and his strength, the One who was able to deliver Judah and prove to the Assyrians that He was not the same as the other gods they had vanquished in their campaigns.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 225

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Hezekiah

Although a child following in the footsteps of its parents is a common occurrence, it is by no means set in stone or mandatory. There are countless examples wherein the son outshines the father, and pursues the path of righteousness and purity as ardently as their father before them pursued idolatry and lawlessness.

Hezekiah is one such example. While Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, instituted pagan worship and almost bled the nation dry by paying tribute to foreign kings for protection, Hezekiah set his heart upon undoing the spiritual damage done by his father.

There are men who play at being evil, and then there are truly evil men. Ahaz was of the second variety, a man who need not have played at being evil, because he was evil both in his thoughts and actions.

2 Chronicles 28:24-25, “So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked the anger of the Lord God of his fathers.”

Most of the time a father can do no wrong in the eyes of his son. We have a way of putting our fathers up on pedestals, of seeing them as larger than life, but Hezekiah realized his father was not a man to be emulated, nor were his practices something to be furthered. Hezekiah realized the steep price the nation had paid for turning its back on God, for turning to idol worship, and trusting in the arm of the flesh to protect them.

Within a year of assuming the throne, Hezekiah begins aggressively trying to turn the ship aright, and return the nation to a place wherein they walked in the will of God once more. To this extent Hezekiah reopens the temple, removes the high places of pagan worship, destroys all the sacred pillars and idolatrous images, and reinstitutes the religious festivals.

Although it is likely his advisors cautioned him to be more diplomatic, especially when it came to breaking ties with Assyria, Hezekiah knew what was right in the sight of the Lord, and he did not hesitate in doing it.

Roughly translated, Hezekiah means ‘Yahweh is my strength,’ and seeing the decisions he made and practices he reinstituted, we realize his name is an apropos one.

Hezekiah knew the dramatic changes he was making to the nation, but he also knew there was no other alternative. He likewise realized there would be many among his own people who were content with the status quo, but knew he could not put off making the difficult choice for fear of offence, whether the offence taken was by few or many.

Because he chose to honor the Lord, because he chose to return to the path of true worship and righteousness, God blessed Hezekiah in all he did, and the nation prospered under his leadership.

In regards to Hezekiah’s spiritual evaluation, the Scriptures have but glowing things to say, honoring him for being faithful and walking in the ways of the Lord.

2 Kings 18:5-7, “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.”

By any standard, this is an impressive outline of the man who was King Hezekiah. By all accounts Hezekiah was a godly man, but even the godly have their season in the valley. Even those who do what is pleasing in the sight of the Lord go through trials, have enemies, and must guard their hearts against the whispers of the evil one.

If God allows trials in our lives, it is to grow and mature our faith and dependency upon Him. If He allows enemies in our lives, it is to humble us and keep us close under the protection of His almighty hand. There is a purpose for all things, not just some things, and those who have come to know the loving mercy of our God realize this even when the situation seems bleak and hope begins to fade.

Hezekiah learned that life is an ongoing battle from the moment he ascended to the throne of Judah. Upon reading the history of this man, a man whom the Bible tells us held fast to the Lord, we realize there was more than one instance wherein the Lord was all he had, and the Lord proved enough for him.

On days when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and we feel ten years younger than our age, it’s easy to follow the Lord. Throughout every life, however, there are days when following the Lord comes at a price, a price we will have to pay, whether it means the loss of a friend, a loved one, a job, our reputation or even our life.

It is the hard days, the dark days, the days when it costs us something to say we are followers of Jesus that define our steadfastness, our faithfulness, and our spiritual maturity. It is the days wherein being a follower of Christ isn’t popular, or hip, or the newest fad in Hollywood, but rather when voicing our allegiance to Him might mean persecution, imprisonment or even death that confirm where our true heart and loyalties lie.

Hezekiah held fast to the Lord, and kept His commandments not when it was easy or popular, but when the doors of the house of the Lord were shut up, and the overwhelming majority of Judah had given themselves over to idols.

It is within this context that we begin to explore the prayer of Hezekiah, the man for whom God was his strength.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 224

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat continued...

God has not changed over the centuries. He does not become less omnipotent with the passage of time, so what He was able to promise and carry out on behalf of Jehoshaphat and His people, He can promise and carry out on our behalf as well.

It is sad to think that so many serve a limited god when the one true God is limitless in His power and authority. If the god we serve is limited in his attributes, if in our hearts and minds we believe there are certain things he cannot do, then we are not serving the one true God.

Men have always attempted to place limitations on God, and dictate what He can and cannot do. It is not a new practice, and it is not something only this brazen generation has started to practice. For millennia men have taken it upon themselves to put God in a box and demand He remain there.

To their great disappointment, God never remained in the box they’d fashioned for Him, and whenever He began to work in ways and through individuals the box builders deemed inappropriate, their only recourse was to decry the entire experience and insist it was not of God.

We are only hurting ourselves if we refuse to believe that God is able to do today what He did three thousand years ago.

Jehoshaphat knew and acknowledged the limitlessness of the God he served, and he fashioned his prayer to highlight this fact. He knew that if God was on their side, nothing and no one would overtake them. If God promised them victory, the overwhelming force of the enemy would be rendered irrelevant.

The promise of God was sufficient for Jehoshaphat and his people, and rather than inquire as to how the Lord would give them victory, or if it wouldn’t be wiser to prepare for battle instead of just positioning themselves in a given place, they obeyed the voice of the Lord and went where He had commanded them to go.

Jehoshaphat and the people obeyed without knowing the full extent of God’s plan, how He would give them the victory, or even how He would protect them.

Oftentimes the most difficult part of obedience is not knowing where our journey will take us, and what we will encounter along the way. God gives us a destination, tells us to go, assures us we will arrive, but He doesn’t mention the hills and valleys, the heartbreaks and disappointments, the struggles and the setbacks. During those moments when all we see around us for as far as we can see are trials, hardships, needs and hurts, we must remind ourselves that God promised we would reach our destination, and it was He who has set us upon this course.

I know I’m going to make it. You know you’re going to make it. God promised we would, and He keeps His promises no matter how improbable or even impossible they might seem to us at any given time.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Sometimes it’s all we can do to keep the faith, put one foot in front of the other, and get through another day. By the same token, God never promised that it would be easy. It is men, who have taken it upon themselves to make the journey seem far less difficult than it really is, and to hear some tell the tale, every hundred yards or so there are refreshment stands, the path is littered with cheerleaders and spectators, and the race itself is almost effortless.

What we learn from Jehoshaphat’s prayer is that in understanding who God is we have the strength to stand our ground, and obey His voice even when in the physical what He has commanded us to do seems likely to fail.

The Lord assured Jehoshaphat of victory, and also informed him that he would not need to fight in this battle. Just from this promise alone, a new set of questions arise, one more baffling to the human intellect than the next.

How did God know where Moabites and Ammonites would be? How could God assure them of victory, and then tell them they would not need to fight to obtain it? How could one vanquish an admittedly superior force without engaging them in battle?

It is almost a certainty that these questions swirled around the minds of Jehoshaphat and his people, because they were, after all, human and one can’t help but question the seemingly impossible.

Because the Lord had spoken and they knew what He could do, they overcame their doubts, put aside their questions, and did as the Lord commanded.

2 Chronicles 20:22-24, “Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.”

Even if God had explained how victory would be obtained, it is likely some of the people would not have believed it. God set the hearts of Judah’s enemies against each other, and rather than meeting Judah on the battlefield, they fought amongst themselves until no one was left alive.

God keeps His promises to His people. We might not see the how of it, but we trust that He will.

Jehoshaphat humbled himself, stood before the Lord and sought Him, and because he believed God was able, he saw the hand of God bring about the victory.

The people sang praises to the Lord as their enemies were scattered before them, and saw the power of the living God at work in their midst.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 223

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat continued...

Because they had come before the Lord in prayer, because the intent of their heart was to see the salvation of the Lord, God’s answer to their prayers was the assurance that their enemy would be vanquished not by their strength, but by the strength of the arm of the Lord.

When God assures us of victory, nothing can stand in our way.

Jehoshaphat’s prayer teaches us to run to the Lord, to trust in Him, and to walk in His authority rather than our own. Though he was king, though he led the people of God, Jehoshaphat realized he could not stand against the enemy which had amassed against him, he could not hope to win the battle on his own, and he set himself to seek the Lord.

As children of God we must know from whence our salvation comes. As children of God we must know it is the Lord who wins the battle on our behalf, and not we ourselves.

Rather than start coming up with battle plans, strategizing and devising contingencies when we see the enemy approaching, it is far more beneficial to humble ourselves, and set ourselves to seek the Lord.

We know victory is guaranteed and absolute when the Lord assures us of it, and because we know the character and omnipotence of He who promised the victory we are fearless in our stance against the enemy.

What have you set your eyes upon this day? Are your eyes set upon the Lord? Do you seek victory from His hand?

As human beings we tend to allow circumstances to overwhelm us. We do not consider the good, we do not consider the blessings, we do not consider the victories, but let us suffer one setback and we will obsess over it for long and long.

We do not give our victories the same consideration as we do our setbacks, and rather than set our eyes upon the Lord we look to the trial itself, or to those who have abandoned us, or to the enemy amassing itself against us.

We must fight the temptation of being distracted by our circumstances and set our eyes upon the One who can remedy them.

Psalm 121:1-2, “I will lift my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Not only did Jehoshaphat set his eyes upon the Lord, he also sought the Lord. For some this might seem like a negligible distinction but for those who have come to understand that no passage of scripture was included accidently or superfluously we realize it is important not only to set our eyes upon the Lord but to seek the Lord as well.

Our prayers must be fueled by the desire to know the person of God. We must seek Him. We do not come before Him seeking what He can do for us, what He can give us, or what He can bless us with, but seeking Him, understanding He is sufficient.

If we seek the Lord and find Him, then we have everything we will ever need in this present life. We will never lack for wisdom, peace, joy, guidance or protection as long as we have the Lord, and this is why we seek Him and not something He can do for us.

Jehoshaphat declared his helplessness as he came before the Lord, doing something which is contrary to human nature as well as much of the spiritualized humanism running rampant through today’s church. Jehoshaphat humbled himself!

He could have come before the Lord and said, ‘because I am king, I am entitled to your protection, favor, blessing or intervention,’ but instead of approaching God from a position of entitlement, Jehoshaphat approached Him from a position of humility.

Perhaps it is because we sing it so often, but for some reason we’ve lost sight of what it truly means to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, trusting that He will lift us up.

‘If you don’t do it yourself, it’s never going to get done.’

This is the lie the enemy whispers in the ears of many a servant, and rather than commit to seeking the Lord and knowing the Him exclusively, they get distracted by self-promotion, self-praise, and self-adulation. Because the flesh likes it, self-aggrandizement comes easily, and the more they do it, the more the flesh likes it, and the more the flesh likes it the more time they devote to letting people know just how special they are.

Given enough time seeking the Lord becomes something they do once everything else gets done, and since we’re all busy, busy folk, we can go for days and weeks and months without ever making the time to seek the Lord.

Jehoshaphat knew there was nothing more important than setting his eyes upon the Lord, and seeking Him. Even though the enemy was approaching, even though they outnumbered his own army, even though he could have been doing a thousand other things from planning his own escape, to trying his hand at diplomacy with the Moabites and Ammonites, Jehoshaphat sought the Lord.

Instead of reacting in the flesh, Jehoshaphat let the urgency of the hour melt away, the thousand other things he could have done were moved to the side, and he concentrated exclusively on the Lord, seeking Him.

During moments of extreme crisis as was the case with Jehoshaphat and the enemy hoards coming against him, we either trust in ourselves, in other men, or in God. If we trust in ourselves and in the arm of the flesh we are sure to suffer defeat. If we trust in others, and what they can do for us, we are sure to be disappointed and disillusioned. If we trust in the Lord, we will see His victory before us, and walk in the authority reserved for those who know, trust, and are dependent upon Him.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Selective Outrage

There is no one I find more disingenuous than the practitioners of selective outrage. Their overly dramatic reactions are so tiresome and off-putting that I would rather someone slap my face repeatedly than listen to one more self-important blowhard spew their rhetoric.

No, this does not promise to be a spiritual post, but I’ve just had my fill of people being outraged over a pastor saying the practice of homosexuality was sinful, while simultaneously, the selfsame people have no qualms about killing a helpless human being because its being born into the world would somehow inconvenience them.

Get off the high horse, burn the soapbox, you don’t have a leg to stand on and you know it!

As long as we allow the enemies of the cross to twist the narrative, and bait us into illogical arguments absent the basest of reason, we will always feel as though we’ve wasted our time and effort in attempting to elucidate a certain topic or point of contention.

The big secret is this: the world doesn’t want their minds changed, and they don’t want to see another point of view in regards to their preconceived and tightly held notions. They want to be validated. They want everyone to agree with the foul perversity of their argument, and if someone dares to disagree based on logic and reason and decency and common sense, then the tolerance runs out, and freedom of speech no longer applies, and you are now and forevermore labeled a hatemonger.

We have grown so disillusioned and have become such a self-loathing people, we go out of our way to take offense and find something to be outraged about. Once we have been thoroughly outraged, we then feel so self-important we are subsequently compelled to tell everyone within earshot we’ve been offended. Well, I take offense at your offense, and am outraged at your outrage.

I don’t mind people who are consistent in their outrage. If you hold to a certain viewpoint and do so consistently, then at least you are constant. It’s those who expect me to bend over backwards and betray my most fundamental of beliefs in order to understand what they’re going through and walk a mile in their shoes, yet who will allow for no such reciprocity when it comes to their own convictions.

What’s worse is that many Christians have caught this malady from the world, and they themselves are beginning to practice selective outrage when it comes to certain doctrines, dogmas, or denominational edicts. It’s no longer about who is Biblically correct; it’s about who is brasher, who can scream loudest, and who can bully others into silence.

I don’t know…it’s just one of those mornings with heavy snow falling outside, and a dozen e-mails to answer, all dealing with some finite aspect of doctrine or dogma, and how I’m wrong for encouraging people to seek spiritual gifts, because some preacher in California said they weren’t for today, so I must be delusional after all.

I think I’ll take the weekend, and go play in the snow.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reality Check Part 10

The last part of this protracted series is up, and since I've posted all the others I thought I'd post this one as well. Hopefully it has given you a better understanding of the times we are living in and as such stirred you to tailor you walk, worship, and prayer life in such a way wherein you will continue to stand while others are falling by the wayside.

If it was within my power I'd hold every believer up in the days to come, but all I can do is teach and warn and instruct. The actual preparedness must be an individual undertaking, something we do ourselves for ourselves, knowing that time spent in prayer, praise, worship, reading the Word and learning to hear the voice of the Lord is never wasted time. Sooner or later these practices bear good fruit, and we will see the true and full measure of their benefit in our lives further down the line.

In His goodness God has given us ample time to clean house, prepare our hearts, anchor ourselves in His Word, and grow in Him. If we have squandered the time pursuing other things, or have been caught up in the frenzy of being caught away before we have to exert oursleves in any manner, there is still time to cling to Jesus, place our hope in Him, and steel oursleves for what is to come.

Realistic readiness beats unrealistic optimism each and every time.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

                                         Realith Check Part 10

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 222

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat continued...

We place limitations on God as though we could dictate terms to Him. God is not obliged to do as we say or conform Himself to the ways of men. God will not change because a certain denomination imposes it upon Him or teaches a limited God with the zeal of a cultist.

God the Father reveals Himself through God the Son, and God the Son reveals Himself through the word of God, the Bible, that book sitting in the dresser drawer of many a soul, gathering dust.

For me to say God can’t do a certain thing anymore because my denominational understanding prohibits Him from doing it, would be as foolhardy as staring at the midday sun and demanding it not shine anymore because I have come to believe it ought not to.

It used to be men read the word of God and obeyed it. Nowadays, men read the word of God and question it. I fear we give ourselves far too much liberty when it comes to our interactions and dialogue with God, acting as though we are on equal footing rather than creation speaking to Creator.

Because they know God loves them, certain individuals have come to abuse that love, thinking that God’s love will overlook their feigned affections and false professions. God knows when there is reciprocity in the love He freely pours out. He knows when we feel the same for Him as He does for us and no amount of acting and professing will compel God to overlook the truth of the heart.

If one truly loves God, they will obey Him, seek to please Him, worship Him and seek to honor Him. If one simply feigns affection hoping to profit from the love God has for them, they will eventually be uprooted and cast into the fire awaiting all who bear no fruit and who have withered on the vine.

Jehoshaphat and the people looked beyond themselves. They looked beyond their circumstances and their predicament and focused on the Lord. When we pray with sincerity of heart, we lose sight of ourselves, we lose sight of our hardships, our trials, our need or our lack, and come before God knowing He has the answer and the comfort and the peace we so yearn for.

It is difficult if not outright impossible to predict how our victory will come about, how our comfort will manifest, or how our peace will arrive, but these are things we ought not to concern ourselves with. The knowledge that God has the situation under control and in His time He will do according to His will is enough for us to lift our heads, square our shoulders, and walk the narrow path toward eternity.

2 Chronicles 20:12, “O God our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

‘We have no power, nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.’ This was the essence of Jehoshaphat’s prayer as he stood amidst the people who had gathered to seek the Lord. I could not think of a more succinct and sincere way to declare one’s utter dependence upon God than the words Jehoshaphat prayed.

The people knew the enemy was coming, far outnumbering their own army, they knew their intent, they knew what the likely outcome would be, and they also knew in and of themselves they could do nothing. Even so, their eyes remained upon the Lord, for they knew from whence their help came.

As long as man thinks himself capable of rectifying a situation, he minimizes God’s role in his life, and denies God’s hand of providence upon him. We see the humility of Jehoshaphat in his prayer. We see the recognition of his own powerlessness as the enemy approached, knowing that in his own strength they would perish.

There is a marked difference between Jehoshaphat’s prayer, and the way many preachers today encourage their congregations to pray. We are told to demand, to stomp our feet and shake our fists and remind God we are entitled to His very best, rather than humbly come before Him acknowledging our impotence.

In seeing the difference between the way men used to pray and the way men are praying today, one need no longer wonder why so few prayers are answered in our day and age, or why so few see the true power of God manifest in their daily lives.

God has not changed, but the way man approaches God has changed over the centuries. We tried to fix what wasn’t broken, we tried to tweak prayer, intimacy, and fellowship to our own benefit and instead of making it better, we ended up causing God to turn his face from us.

We are presently confronted with a darkness that threatens to overrun everything in its path, and even so, we refuse to return to the basics of true worship and intimacy with God.

We are living perilous times. By all accounts it would seem the godless outnumber the righteous, and their intent is clear. We can either choose to try and remedy the situation ourselves, employing earthly means which will likely fail, or we can choose to look to the Lord, and keep our eyes upon Him, knowing He will judge all things and all men at the appropriate time.

Our duty is to return to the Lord, to seek the Lord, to keep our gaze firmly affixed upon Him, and not be distracted by the voices and the noises around us. We know the course God has set for us. We know the path we are to follow. We know the righteousness we ought to live, and when we are faithful in these things, God will uphold the hand of the righteous, and strengthen those who have grown weary in the battle.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 221

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of  Jehoshaphat continued...

It didn’t take long for the Lord to answer the prayers of the people. They came before Him with sincerity of heart, unity, and single-minded purpose and God honored this by sending Jehoshaphat an answer to his prayer by way of a prophetic utterance almost immediately.

2 Chronicles 20:16-17, “Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

God never gets surprised or blindsided. There is never an instant wherein God doesn’t see something coming afar off, wherein He does not know the end from the beginning, and this ought to give us great peace and hope in our journey toward eternity.

God knew where the enemy would be, He knew where they would be found, and He commanded Israel to position itself, and stand still.

Show up to the battle, but let God do the fighting.

If we march upon the battlefield in our own strength, in our own prowess, trusting in our own numbers, we will be scattered to the wind, overrun, and vanquished. We underestimate the enemy to our own demise, and we trust in the arm of the flesh to our own destruction.

Keep in mind God didn’t tell the people to pack up and go home, He didn’t tell them there was no need for them to do anything except microwave a batch of popcorn and watch from the sidelines as God smote their enemies. God told them they needed to position themselves, assemble themselves, prepare themselves, stand on the battlefield, but know they were standing in His strength, and it would be the Lord’s salvation that would win the battle.

It is easy not to be afraid when you know the Lord is with you. It is easy to stand against overwhelming odds when God has assured you of victory, but there are moments when the enemy attacks and all we can do is hold our ground knowing the faithfulness of our God. We don’t get the promise of victory before every battle, we don’t receive a word of prophecy before every confrontation, but knowing the nature of the God we serve, we don’t need to be assured of victory every time. We know God stands with us because He is faithful to those who are faithful to Him. We position ourselves against the enemy, we stand still, and we see the salvation of the Lord.

Finding the balance between not doing anything and attempting to do everything is a constant struggle for some. Since most individuals are being influenced and pulled to either one side of the argument or the other almost daily, only one who is grounded and rooted in truth is able to withstand the buffeting.

The people knew it was their duty to seek the face of the Lord. They realized no one could do it on their behalf. They could not appoint someone to do it, or outsource it to the Levites among them. Their entire victory hinged upon coming together, and seeking the face of the Lord as one.

God was stirred by the prayers of His people and not by their predicament.

There had been no message from the Lord prior to the people gathering together to pray. There had been no word of prophecy prior to Jehoshaphat crying out to the Lord. Their enemies had been assembled together against them even before they prayed, but it was only after they prayed that the Lord saw fit to encourage His people, and promise them victory.

Would Jehoshaphat and the people have received a message from the Lord if they’d never prayed? Would the Lord have spoken to them if they’d taken it upon themselves to defend their nation rather than come together and seek His face?

These are relevant and important questions because the answers to these will open our eyes to the reality of why God acts at a certain time and in a certain way, and why at other times it seems as though He is a million miles away.

We have a duty before God to seek His face. We have a duty before God to come before Him in humility and obedience, and ask for His help.

The people knew they were outnumbered, they knew their destruction was imminent if not for divine intervention, and so they prayed accordingly. They did not assume or presume to know the mind of God, nor did they take being God’s people for granted.

Some live under the misconception that God is obliged to intervene whenever they need Him, without asking, without petitioning Him and without seeking His face. God doesn’t owe us, nor are we entitled to His intervening on our behalf.

Jehoshaphat could have sat idly by and assumed that the Lord would intervene. He could have gone about his activities as though the enemy were not at the gates, as though the danger wasn’t imminent, but he knew better than to bury his head in the sand, cross his fingers, and hope for the best.

Men and women of prayer are compelled to pray, to seek the face of God, to plead with Him and cry out to Him whenever they see the need for His intervening hand. The notion of being a spectator and not coming before the Lord and interceding on behalf of others ought to be anathema to the household of faith, yet more and more souls lead lives absent prayer because they were told God doesn’t listen, and even if he listens He doesn’t hear too well, and even if He heard well, He just doesn’t do those kinds of things anymore.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 220

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat continued...

Jehoshaphat knew the power of prayer, and rather than arm his people with swords and spears, he first brought them together to pray. The time would come for standing on a battlefield and facing the enemy, but first they would need a strength no shield or bow could give them…a strength which comes from God through prayer.

If one has never experienced the power of prayer in their life, they might look at the preceding assertion and roll their eyes. Because so few experience the power of prayer nowadays, we’ve come to believe that the notion of there being a true and tangible power associated with the act of prayer is hyperbolic exaggeration, like when we tell someone we just ate the best tasting orange ever. Sure, it might have been a good orange, even a great orange, but can you really say it was the best tasting orange ever?

When a believer speaks of the power of prayer, he means real, literal, undeniable power.

Jehoshaphat understood this. He understood that the power of prayer was a literal thing and not just some pompous way of explaining a benign experience like saying a handful of words while looking up.

It is because the enemy likewise knows the true power prayer holds that he has been attempting to undermine, redefine, and downplay the need for prayer in a believer’s life. As if on cue, new distractions pop up whenever a congregation gets serious about prayer, newfangled teachings and doctrines seem to metastasize whenever the need for prayer is declared from a national platform, because the devil knows he’ll be in real trouble the instant the church realizes the importance of prayer in their lives, and starts to pray as the saints of old used to.

What makes me think Jehoshaphat knew the importance and power of prayer?

I know with certainty that Jehoshaphat knew the power and importance of prayer because he led with prayer before doing anything else. Jehoshaphat didn’t assemble his army, equip them with weapons, then just as they were about to go into battle urged them all to say a quick prayer. Before doing anything else, Jehoshaphat came before the people, gathered together with them and prayed.

Where prayer is on our list of priorities says allot as to whether or not we understand its importance in our lives. If prayer is something we get to when all the other chores, responsibilities and errands are done, our actions betray our ignorance.

If, however, praying is the first thing we do in the morning, and the last thing we do at night, if we prioritize prayer in such a way wherein we will not go a day without it, then our actions testify of the value we place on prayer and our prayer lives.

Fasting, prayer, and worship are weapons. They are what we use to defend against the darkness, and even chase it away. When these three are absent from a congregation, when these three no longer exist among a group of individuals claiming to be a church, then their end and downfall is assured.

Because we like to think we know better than God we’ve attempted to replace fasting, prayer, and true worship with other things which mimic the real, but do not require the same effort or sacrifice.

Rather than declare a fast for the entire congregation – a true biblical fast – we ask for a handful of volunteers who will selflessly give up one meal on a given day and call it a sacrificial fast.

We like cheap expressions of our own self-righteousness, if possible, carried out before the entire household of faith, to unending applause and adulation.

We want to know that everybody knows we’re fasting, or we’ve started to pray, or we’re doing something for the kingdom of God, because just God knowing isn’t enough anymore. We all know God doles out praise in a miserly fashion, and even when in our own estimation we’re being good, He’ll find something to rebuke us of. Might as well lord our spirituality over the rest of the Body – finding ways to insert the fact that we fasted that week in any conversation – at least that way we get a little recognition for our efforts.

When was it we stopped doing things as unto the Lord? When was it we began feeling the need to advertise even the smallest kindness we perform, shouting it from the rooftops as though we had discovered the cure for cancer? When was it that knowing the Lord rewards all who labor for the Kingdom in due season, became insufficient for us?

Prayer is a largely intimate, solitary practice, unless done corporately, and as such many have abandoned prayer altogether. No one can see you in your prayer closet, no one can hear you cry out to God, and if no one can witness your good works and sacrifice, what good is it?

This is the mentality so many have adopted in recent years, because hedonism has taken hold of the household of faith, and rather than our entire existence being about Christ Jesus, what He has done for us, and what He does through us, it has become about us as individuals, and how long we can stay in the spotlight if ever we manage to get there.

As such, ministry becomes about man rather than about God, and everything men do seems to be geared toward elevating themselves.

Jehoshaphat knew that man, any man, even a king is a poor substitute for God and His power, and so rather than giving a rousing speech and stirring his army with empty words, he came before God humbly, meekly, and acknowledged His supremacy, His omnipotence, and His might. Jehoshaphat trusted in the Lord, and he demonstrated this both by the manner in which he prioritized prayer, as well as the words of his prayer. Jehoshaphat knew the power and might of the God he served, and he realized only a fool would attempt to do only what God could. As such Jehoshaphat pleaded with the Lord for victory against his enemies.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Silver Linings!

No matter where you look, no matter what your preferred news source, it is undeniable that things are looking bleak and only getting bleaker. Whether your interests run locally, nationally, or internationally the news isn’t good. There seems to be reason for concern at every level, and that’s just from the things that are making their way to the general public. Imagine if you knew all the stuff they’re successfully keeping hidden…but I digress.

What myself, and a handful of other brave souls have been warning of the past few years – while being mocked, derided, and ridiculed – is coming to pass. Reality is beginning to shatter the illusion we’ve fashioned for ourselves, and people are being awoken from their slumber due to all the racket.

As some have a tendency of doing when startled awake, certain individuals are reacting unexpectedly. Rather than find balance, many who are stirred to wakefulness in this late hour gravitate toward extremes, either becoming their very own neighborhood Rambo, replete with underground tunnels and sniper nests, or moving to a small, as yet uncharted island somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

Although I’ve said the following more times than I can count, they only refuge, the only place of safety, the only hope we have as individuals of weathering the coming storm, is Christ Jesus, and Him alone.

It’s easy for me to get apocalyptic, and start writing about what I see on the horizon, but there are allot of folks doing that, and most of them are either on the mark, or close enough to it that further discussion is unwarranted.

As such, today I thought I’d do something a bit different, and give you the top ten positive aspects of the coming collapse…see, I can be positive too. Take that, Joel Osteen!

The following list is in no particular order, and some of you might not find much positivity in some of the points, but nevertheless, here it is:

1. We will know the true shepherds from the hirelings.

2. We will know the wheat from the chaff.

3. We will learn dependence upon God.

4. We will see the power of God manifest in our lives in more profound and impacting ways.

5. We will either begin to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or give in to the desperation the world will be experiencing.

6. We will finally understand sufficiency in Christ.

7. We will appreciate the simple things of life once more.

8. We will walk in the authority rightly ours, and mature in the ways of God. (Nothing like necessity to light a fire in us.)

9. We will witness God keeping His promises to His children.

10. We will know that our redemption draws nigh.

What we must never lose sight of, is that it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s not about some hopeless, joyless future we must endure and muddle through; it’s about seeing the power of our God in the midst of it all, and walking in the knowledge of His presence in us and with us in perpetuity.

It’s not about the destruction, it’s not about the chaos, and it’s not about the fear or the uncertainty. It’s about seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises, seeing His provision and protection, and witnessing just how great a God we serve. It’s about walking through the fire and not being burned!

This is the hope. This is the peace. This is the joy.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.