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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chapter 1: Who Taught You How To Fight?

The following is the first chapter of the upcoming book. I still haven't decided how many of the chapters I will be publishing on the blog, but we'll start with one and go from there. God bless, and enjoy.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.


In the physical, when it comes to the craft of war and the doing of battle some men are self-taught, others have teachers, while others still enlist in the armed forces wherein they learn the basics of battle – insofar as they can defend themselves and reasonably hope to fell their enemies – in a matter of weeks.

For some, learning how to fight is a necessity, for others it is a hobby, and for a select few it is an identity, and something their entire existence revolves around.

There are warriors and there are warriors. There are men who enlist, put in their time, get their college paid for, and nevermore dwell on combat. Then there are those whose lifelong pursuit is the art of war, and their skillset grows exponentially throughout their lives.

Some men see soldiering as a means to an end, while others see soldiering and learning the finite details of warfare as the end itself.

As battle ready believers our learning never stops, nor does our training. It becomes so engrained in us, it becomes such an important part of our lives that we learn to exercise our spiritual gifts and go through a checklist of our spiritual weapons each morning upon waking, without fail.

As is the case with most things, repetition is the key to learning and the mother of all skill. In order to have something to repeat and thereby grow skillful at, however, one must have first been taught, and taught by someone who knew what they were talking about.

Unfortunately there are many instances wherein the spiritual mirrors the physical. As is the case in the physical wherein many an impostor comes off as something they are not and hoodwinks unsuspecting innocents into believing they are black belts in the Martial Arts, there are countless individuals when it comes to spiritual matters that pretend at being men of substance but are nothing more than profiteers and bandits.

These are men who will often boast of themselves, of their accomplishments, but give very little time and make very little effort to highlight their General, to highlight the Christ, and point the way to Him.

True soldiers know that they are one part of the whole, members of one unit, and as such never attempt to steal the spotlight or draw attention to themselves. True soldiers know what it is to work in unity, as a cohesive body, doing their part in ensuring that everyone makes it home alive and with as few wounds as possible.

Just as is the case in the physical, when one member of a unit drops the ball, when they fail to do their duty, when they don’t act quickly enough, decisively enough, or wisely enough, the whole body suffers, and is placed in mortal danger.

One bad apple can and oftentimes does spoil the bunch. One false teaching with no opposition, one false doctrine with no refutation, one false teacher with no renunciation, and the truth is slowly undermined, the hearts of men turned, and before you know it you have an entire denomination embracing abomination as though it were virtue itself.

Because false doctrine and false teaching often times comes via false teachers, I want to spend some time on this oft avoided topic within the household of faith.

Throughout the Word of God we are warned about false teachers and commanded to be weary, to be wise, to contend for the faith, and to stand up for truth no matter how unpopular our stance might be.

Jude 1:3, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

When we are told to contend, we are in fact told to struggle, and by doing so surmount any difficulty or danger. When we are told to contend earnestly, we are in fact told to contend with zeal, steadfastness, and unwavering commitment.

Speak of these things to some in the church and they’ll start screaming ‘works’ as though their hair was on fire, but it’s not me they must contend with, it is the Word of God. More and more I get the feeling that many within the church are simply too lazy to lift a finger in defense of the Gospel, and rather than admit the truth to themselves they’d rather label everyone else a legalist.

It is our duty to fight, to contend, to do battle, every time a heresy arises, every time apostasy arises, every time false teachers emerge, and the truth of God is attacked.

Jude 1:4, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Unfortunately it is such men – men who have crept unnoticed – within the household of faith but who have long been marked for condemnation that are growing in popularity and attempting to teach others what it is to be battle ready when they themselves have not a clue.

Few things stand in starker contrast than the theory of warfare and the practice thereof. Anyone can spout off theory. Anyone can armchair quarterback a battle that has already taken place, or point out the failures of soldiers who came before them, men and women who fought valiantly, who stood their ground, and who are no more. Anyone can move their hands about and seem as though they know what they are doing, but the tale is told when the rubber meets the road, and when the clash of swords breaks the silence.

Individuals who pretend to know more than they do are a danger to the household of faith as a whole, and to the children of God as individuals. Many a soul take their words for gospel, mimic their actions, and when the time comes to do battle they are trodden underfoot before they realize it.

So the next time we decide to give one of these men a pass, or give them the benefit of the doubt, or defend what they said because we like their bubbling personality, just so we’re clear, the Word calls them ungodly men and men who were long ago marked out for condemnation.

What is their primary characteristic? Well, turning the grace of God into licentiousness is a good indicator, as is denying the singularity of Jesus, the Divinity of Jesus, the Lordship of Jesus, and the Kingship of Jesus.

Since this is not a book on false teachers, I’ll let you figure out who they are on your own!

It is only when we minimize what our enemy’s ultimate intent is and how single minded he is about attaining his objective that we become indifferent and even flippant about his minions and what they are doing within the household of faith.

The devil isn’t out to bruise you, or skin your knee, or call you nasty names. The devil is out to kill you, and every single individual who does his bidding, every single one roaming about already marked for condemnation, has the selfsame objective in mind.

Men teach heresy for the singular purpose of destroying other men spiritually!

In the end that is the root of every false teaching, false doctrine, and false interpretation. The devil knows the battle he is in but sadly much of the church does not. The devil knows the stakes of this battle but sadly the church seems to have forgotten, thinking that somehow if they are trampled underfoot, if they are overcome rather than overcomers, they’ll just end up in a less glitzy part of heaven, but heaven nevertheless.

After outlining a pretty grim picture of the end times, speaking of wars, rumors of wars, and how we would be hated by all nations for His name’s sake, Jesus went on to speak some heavy, heavy words for every believer who thinks they can wing it or somehow get through what’s coming without being fully equipped, fully trained, and fully sold out for Christ.

Matthew 24:13, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Jesus didn’t say “he who tries, attempts, or thinks they can endure to the end,” Jesus said, “he who endures to the end!”

Valiant efforts won’t cut it, nor will halfhearted attempts at enduring. If we believe the words of Jesus – and we have no reason to doubt Him – then only he who endures to the end shall be saved!

The whole point of this book is to prepare you spiritually, and open your eyes to the reality that you are more than what you’ve been told you are by those pretending to be your spiritual betters. The whole point of this book is to make sure you are a battle ready believer, and it all begins with who taught you how to fight.

If the one who taught you how to fight was not taught by Christ, if the one who taught you how to fight did not have the Word of God as his foundation, then you don’t know how to fight at all. True skill is not flashy; it is efficient. True skill is not interested in entertaining onlookers; it is only interesting in felling its enemy, and permanently so.

We can shadow box until we’re blue in the face but until we’ve taken a punch to the nose, felt tears well up in our eyes, and made the conscious decision to counterattack, all we’ve been doing is pretend fighting.  

The devil is not pretend fighting. He is not pulling punches, and he won’t give second chances.

As such, feelings, emotions, or opinions are irrelevant. The only thing of import, the only thing of relevance, the only thing that matters is if you were taught to fight by God through His Word, or if the individual who taught you was taught of God.  Because the topic of this book oftentimes compels me to be less than gentle in my approach, for those who are not yet ready to hear them, my words may seem downright offensive.

If you are offended, so be it! The stakes are too high, and the outcome of this battle too important for me to try and sugarcoat this in any way in an attempt to spare feelings.

If you were taught by a fool, modeled your life after a fool, and followed after a fool, then you are a fool. If you were taught by Christ, modeled your life after Christ, and followed after Christ, then you are like Christ.

We can try ty split heirs but why waste the time?

Once we understand the truth of the battle we find ourselves in, once we understand we are facing an enemy who takes no prisoners, then we will realize just how irrelevant our feelings or bruised egos are.

God doesn’t coddle soldiers, and we’re too old to be infants!

The lateness of the hour is evident to one and all perhaps with the exception of the church which is still under the misconception that when the Word tells believers to put on the whole armor of God somehow it doesn’t apply to them but to someone else.

Were you taught to fight by a man of God or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Were you taught to fight by a true shepherd or a hireling whose insistence on your sowing seed and paying tithes bordered on psychotic?

Did you learn how to fight or were you just sheered of your wool like so many sheep, then left to wander about thinking yourself invincible when in fact you were defenseless?

In your heart you already know the answers to these questions. In your heart you know if you followed after a man of God or after an empty suit. You know who taught you to fight or even if fighting ever came up in between the lengthy sermons on the widow of Zarephath because let’s face it, spiritual warfare is not high on many a preacher’s agenda nowadays. You know! Now all that is required is for you to be honest enough with yourself to admit the truth and take the painful but necessary steps to remedy the situation you find yourself in.

One surefire way to keep from being deceived is to go directly to the source and learn from Jesus Himself. Yes, there are still well intentioned servants from whom you can learn, yes there are still messengers whom God sends, but you must be ever vigilant as to whom you allow to speak into your life, and who you allow to feed you spiritually.

No matter how bright their smile or how crisp their suit, a messenger will always be just a messenger; an envoy of the One who sent him. If they are true servants they will walk in the authority of their Master, and as such wield power. They will also possess the knowledge and ability to do battle, being someone you can learn from. Even so, always keep in mind that to elevate a servant to the position of master is to commit sin.  

I learned how to fight from my grandfather. He was a rare man. He was a man who loved God above all else, and his love for God knew no limits or delineations. I spent most of my childhood with my grandfather since my father was at work trying to put food on the table, and throughout my adolescence he taught me love for God. Not with words but with actions.

My grandfather never preached at me. He simply lived his life sold out to God, and this resounded with me more effectively than ten thousand sermons. His love for Jesus was obvious in his everyday life, and this love flowed out of him like a stream.

As I grew older he began to teach me deeper truths, but no matter what it was he taught me it was always tethered in the Word, and he insisted that I search it out for myself.

The first and most important thing my grandfather taught me about spiritual warfare is to always be prepared for battle. The devil is not a gentleman. He doesn’t fight fair. If the enemy can attack you when you are not paying attention or are distracted, that is exactly when he will attack.

As men and women of God our duty is to be perpetually hypervigilant for one of the enemy’s attacks. We cannot allow the enemy to take us by surprise, and the only way to guard against it is to watch and pray and be vigilant at all times. This does not mean we look for demons under every rock and around every tree. What it means is that we are continually tapped into the spiritual realm, and trust our warrior instincts when it comes to imminent attacks.

Whether or not they possessed this hypervigilance of which I speak was one of the ways God chose to whittle down Gideon’s army from 10,000 men to 300 men. At first there were 22,000 men, a healthy number to be sure, but after being told that if they were afraid they were free to return to their homes, only 10,000 men remained.

Of these 10,000 only 300 lapped water by putting their hand to their mouth, while the rest knelt to drink. A kneeling man starts out at a disadvantage. He cannot defend himself as readily as if he was standing, and by kneeling to drink he diminishes his ability to be aware of his surroundings.  God told Gideon to keep only those who were hypervigilant, and with a handful of men, the day was won.

I have been traveling pretty much nonstop since early adolescence. I was twelve years old when I began traveling as my grandfather’s interpreter, and although I turned 40 recently I’m still on the road. One of the first things I learned to do no matter where I found myself was to be aware of my surroundings. Whether in downtown Chicago, Istanbul, Miami, Sydney, or a small Amish town in Pennsylvania, my head is always on a swivel, and I am always aware of everything going on around me.

To this day I have not been mugged, held up, carjacked, or menaced in any way, even though I’ve traveled to dangerous places, and walked through dangerous neighborhoods. The reason I’ve never had a negative experience in these places is because I know how to gauge a situation, I am perpetually aware of my surroundings, and I act immediately upon getting that intangible feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Experience will teach you to anticipate the enemy’s attacks because no matter how well he attempts to camouflage his actions, no matter how well he tries to mask his intent there is always that moment when your hair stands on end, and you get that feeling in your gut that something’s coming. Trust those feelings, and be ready for when the attack commences.

The second thing my grandfather taught me when it came to spiritual warfare was to stand one’s ground. It matters not whether you are outnumbered, it matters not if you are the only one on the battlefield, stand your ground.

The amazing thing is that once we commit to standing our ground, once we are resolute in our stance that nothing and no one will move us from the spot we are defending, everything becomes crystal clear. All the thoughts, all the doubts, all the second guessing, they all disappear, and all that remains is you doing your all to remain steadfast. It is in those moments of total commitment wherein we are not trying to find a way out of the battle but simply to man our post that we will notice we are being helped and aided by He who is always fighting alongside us.

Even if you are the only one on the battlefield you are still a majority. You are a one man or one woman army because God and the hosts of heaven stand with you. It is this knowledge that must embolden us and give us courage. It is this knowledge that must fuel us and drive us to defend the Gospel and the name of our God.

The third thing I learned from my grandfather regarding doing battle with the enemy is to never trust in oneself. No matter how proficient you become, no matter how mature, no matter how knowledgeable, never trust in the arm of the flesh.

History is littered with the corpses of those who forgot this all-important rule. There are countless examples of men and women who started out on the right path, laboring on behalf of the kingdom, trusting in the arm of God to see them through, then suddenly, without warning, they began to think themselves above the need to give all glory and honor to God. They began to think themselves strong in and of themselves, able to vanquish the enemy without any help, only to find themselves face down in the mud, vanquished and humiliated.

We ought to be wise enough to know our own limitations by now. We ought to be wise enough to acknowledge the presence of God in the midst of our battle, and give Him the glory He deserves for having given us the strength and having fought on our behalf.

It is human nature to try and take credit for things we didn’t do, and this is not anything new. This goes back to the beginning of creation, and whenever men had the opportunity to take credit for something God did, for many the temptation was too much to resist.

It is God who goes before us. It is God who aids us in battle. He is our General, he is our commanding officer, and He will always be on the frontlines of any battle.

God does not lead from behind. He does not simply give orders then hopes that His soldiers succeed. God is ever present in the battle, always there to lend a hand, and even when all seems lost, when we see ourselves as outnumbered and the outcome of our endeavor all but lost, God steps in and turns it around in an instant.

If the individual who taught you to fight was proficient, if their purpose was to train you to do battle on your own rather than keep you dependent upon them, then you know what it is to put on your armor and step onto the battlefield. Do so with the full assurance that God stands with you as long as you stand with Him.

Depending on who taught you to fight you will also have a predisposition toward a certain discipline. Some will have a predisposition toward exegesis, others will have predisposition toward certain gifts of the Holy Spirit, others still will have a predisposition toward the prophetic, and although they become well versed in every discipline becoming a complete Christian, those preferences and predispositions exist and carry throughout.
Soldiers recognize other soldiers even if they happen to serve in other branches of the armed forces. True soldiers need not advertise, and they need not put on a beret or wear camouflage pants. Soldiers just know other soldiers either by their demeanor, a look in their eye, or some inane sense that you have happened upon a brother in arms.

I am leery of any man who tries to draw attention to the fact that he is a soldier, and this is doubly true of those who go around telling one and all how they are a spiritual warrior the likes of which the world has never seen.

Titles don’t impress me; men of God do. Nowadays anyone can claim any title for themselves, but until they’ve been in the mud, until they’ve stared down the enemy, until we can compare scars and tell war stories, your title does nothing to endear me to you.

There are four things we must do as wise followers of Christ when it comes to this all important question of who taught us how to fight and those four things are: identify, analyze, resolve, and take the appropriate action.

1.      Identify the individual who taught you to fight.

2.      Analyze their life, character, conduct, and fruit thereby determining whether or not they were a true follower of Christ.

3.      Resolve whether or not you possess fighting knowhow given who taught you how to fight.

4.      Take the appropriate action whether that action is starting over and learning anew the art of war, or growing in your skill as a warrior, having a true and right foundation in place.

5 comments:

Tim Shey said...

A few years ago, I was reading the classic THE ART OF WAR by Sun Tzu. After I read half of the book, the Lord told me to stop reading it. The Lord told me that the man who obeys the Lord defeats Sun Tzu every time.

Fresh revelation from the Lord is very important in spiritual warfare. The rock that the church is built upon is revelation knowledge. The man who obeys the Lord defeats Satan every time.

Matthew 16: 17-18: "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Barbara said...

So this is the beginning of the book? It is interesting. The war never ends but if you are exhausted from fighting, you are in the wrong battle or your tools aren't effective. Some places are too foul and must be left to rot. You can only defend the defensible. If you are in a den of sin and hypocrasy, you don't have any stronghold there at all. God is not there, He won't dwell there or assist there. Your spirit will tell you get up and get out, not just instinct like someone wants to mug you, but you can have a sense in your spirit that this place is just overwhelmingly evil and lost and that you are going to wear yourself out trying to fight there or claim it.

Choosing your battles is a number one skill of any warriors, as is knowing your limitations. You can't do just anything, it has to be in accord with God if you are trying to use His power as well. Where He wants you to fight, it is hard to tell. If you are led by the spirit, you don't basically know where or how the next battle will unfold most of the time. You might be able to fellowship amidst the so-called evil men of the world, yet among the so-called holy, you are being strangled and tormented spiritually to the point of oppression. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Amen.

Sherri said...

Now I know I never learned to fight, but I'm ready to learn. Thank you for pointing us to Jesus and for the encouragement.
God bless you.

Jenn Drudge said...

Michael,

Thank you for the time and sacrifice you are putting into writing this book. I believe God wants this word to go out at this precise moment in time. Though I have never commented on your blog before, I read it regularly - almost with a sense of relief that there are others out there who are still trying to live for Christ with integrity.

Our family is from rural Ontario, Canada, but even here we are seeing the destructive affects of false teachings on the church. Our small, bible believing, spirit-filled church is rare amid the rise of "relevant, seeker-friendly" mega-churches.

Michael, you and your family are not alone. There are those of us who are still quietly, persistently, following the whole counsel of God. We pray God's continued protection on your household as you write this book.

And if you ever find yourself in South-western Ontario on a visit, you would be welcomed in our fellowship.

Thank you and God bless you.

meema said...

I had to give this some time to think over. Push come to shove, I’d have to claim it was my mother who taught me to fight. She embedded in me the desire to recognize truth, to ask questions, to cope with being rejected for standing for truth by not being overly concerned with what the world thinks. She encouraged me to understand the difference between following Christ and following religion.

I suspect that if this question, ‘Who taught you to fight?” was presented to most Christian congregations nowadays, the response would be - “Fight? What fight? Christians aren’t supposed to fight!”