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Monday, December 30, 2019

In Service


Everybody serves somebody. There is no way around it, and there’s no carve-out or exemption to the rule. Even those who beat their chest and insist that they are in service to no higher power or authority are in service to something because we do not get a choice in whether or not we serve; we only get a choice in whom we serve.

As Joshua was getting on in years, feeling that his time here was drawing to a close, he gathered the tribes of Israel together. This was to be his final goodbye, but instead of Joshua waxing poetic or nostalgic, it was the Lord who spoke through his mouth. Other than the final few words, the entirety of Joshua’s oratory at Shechem was prophetic, going into great detail as to how the Lord had saved and protected them throughout the years.

At the end of his prophetic utterance, Joshua looks back on the life he lived, and in the brief, direct way of a soldier and leader of men, implores the people to make a choice as to whom they would serve. Whether it was to be the Lord, or the gods of the Amorites, or the gods of their fathers, every man was called upon to make a choice.

We live amidst a generation of fence-sitters. More and more, people are comfortable with the notion of sitting at the crossroads and never picking a path. It is a mindset that has been growing of late largely because men of principle and discipline such as Joshua are few and far between. Add to this the reality that whom you will serve is the only choice given you is a truth rarely trumpeted in today’s church, and you have a perfect storm of indifference, where everything is trivial and banal, and whatever is right in your own eyes is right for you.

When Joshua spoke to the people, I can’t help but sense an urgency in his word choice. The instruction to choose was not something that could be delayed or put off. Joshua insisted that it was this day the people must choose whom they would serve because Joshua knew full well that not choosing was a choice in and of itself. He knew that being on the sidelines watching the battle unfold is the next best thing to choosing evil itself, as far as the enemy is concerned.

The time is now, and the choice is whom. That’s as simple as it gets, but we try to complicate it to no end, mostly because the flesh resents the finality of having to choose the Lord once and for all.

We choose light or we choose darkness. We choose the Lord or we choose gods of our own making. No, the gods of the Amorites are no longer prominent figures as far as deities go, but we have replaced them with other gods; gods as pernicious as those of old who require blood and pain, chaos, and oppression to be satisfied.

The Lord is good and merciful, gracious and kind, yet so many choose to run into the arms of gods who will savage them, brutalize them, and leave them wounded and dying. You choose. This day, no tomorrow, or in a year, or when you’ve sown your wild oats, choose today whom you will serve because not choosing is not an option. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Shy of Heaven


Giggles and laughter floated through the house. They were the giggles and laughter of innocence, of children playing, or doing something they found exceedingly entertaining.

My wife was in the kitchen teaching them how to knead cookie dough, and I was in the living room catching up on some messages and correspondence.

The laughter broke only long enough for my eldest daughter to say, “eww, yucky,” quickly followed by her little sister parroting the phrase. Then the laughter resumed, and I just closed my eyes and listened to it with a smile on my face.

Maybe it’s the time of year, but that laughter sounded like angels singing. I knew it wasn’t heaven yet, but that moment, that blissful innocence of finding uttermost joy in something as common as kneading cookie dough was likely as close as I’m going to get while on this earth.

Such moments are necessary for life. Not only do they serve to foreshadow what awaits us, but they give us the strength to press on toward the prize, even when life gets messy, and the road gets hard.

I do not know what the future holds, at least not with specificity regarding myself as an individual, but I know I can close my eyes and relive that laughter whenever I grow weary.

Yes, Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation, but He never said we wouldn’t also have joy. Just because you have one thing, it does not mean you cannot also have the other. Hold precious times of joy. Hold precious times of merriment. Hold precious the times of laughter and glee and your kids kneading cookie dough while still in their pajamas. Understand that those moments are often fleeting, short bursts of memories that will keep you warm during the cold dark nights of hardship.

At the risk of sounding cheesy and cliché, all we have is this moment, and what we choose to do with it. Will I spend this moment embracing joy, or trying to stifle someone else’s? Will I spend this moment being thankful for the gift of Jesus, whatever day he happened to be born on, or will I, fueled by caffeine and self-importance, do my utmost to sow a little bitterness in the lives of others just because I feel like it.

Yes, theological debates and discussions are good and necessary, they have their place, and are encouraged, but zeal without wisdom will more often than not have a negative effect, and achieve the opposite of what you were trying to accomplish.

If for everything there is a season, then perhaps this moment might more readily lend itself to faith, family, joy, and thankfulness than bitter outbursts about how anyone who says Merry Christmas is an agent of Satan, hell-bound and irredeemable.

Oh, and just so we’re clear, a belated Merry Christmas to all. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Among You


One of the most surefire ways to defeat an enemy or conquer a foe is from within. It may take some planning, it may take some time, but if you can successfully get inside, past the walls, past the watchtowers, and past the watchmen, a small force can wreak havoc on a massive scale, especially if those within are too busy, distracted, or otherwise preoccupied to notice.

While the Greeks threw rocks at Troy until they either got tired or ran out of rocks, it took a wooden horse and a handful of cutthroats to bring the city to ruin from within.

As Paul writes his farewell to the Ephesians, he does not lament that soon he would shuffle off this mortal coil, but rather than when he is gone, savage wolves would come among them and would not spare the flock. Not only that, but even from their own number, Paul foresaw that men would rise up and distort the truth to draw away disciples after themselves.

Yesterday I was running errands for most of the morning. We needed some things for the house and decided to pull off the band-aid sooner rather than later, knowing that the deeper we get into the week, the worse it’s going to be.

As I was driving home, my phone started buzzing, and it didn’t stop until I pulled into my driveway and got a chance to see what all the hubbub was about. Apparently, a man who once referred to God as a divine drama queen, wrote a scathing op-ed in Christianity today as to why this president should be impeached, and why any Christian who still supported him was doing the bidding of Beelzebub.

When a dog’s barking this loud, the first thing you need to do is determine if he’s on a leash. Once that’s been determined, the next thing you need to determine is who is holding the other end of it.

Individuals with more free time than I did just that, and wouldn’t you know it, the person holding the leash of this particular barker as well as a handful of others in prominent Christian circles insisting that it would be the height of immorality not to vote for the limitless funding of murder mills, is George Soros.

Through grants, donations, and other means of influence, George Soros has created his own Trojan Horse, placed it within the church, and now his paid stooges are attempting to wreak havoc.

These are not noble, virtuous men standing on principle at the risk of losing it all, they are groveling lickspittles doing their master’s bidding, nuzzling his age-spotted, decrepit hand hoping for another treat with a handful of zeroes attached to it.

We should be smarter than the devil, but it turns out he’s outwitted the church yet again. We should have the wherewithal to perceive intent, but alas, our wits have been dulled, our guard has been lowered, because we thought our walls impenetrable and our defenses sure.

When supposed servants of the light encourage you to align with the darkness, it should set alarm bells blaring to the point that you are unable to ignore them. When good is called evil and evil is called good, then it’s time to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and discern the motive behind why a certain narrative is being pushed.

We underestimate the devil’s tenacity, shrewdness, and desire to tear the household of faith asunder at our peril. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Fallout


The biggest problem with exploding ordinance is that you can never fully predict the fallout pattern. Sure, there are shape charges with which you can affect the explosive’s energy, but even when you can reasonably predict the general area of the blast, you can’t account for every piece of shrapnel, or create a model for the exact perimeter of the fallout.

Even in a controlled environment, with professionals at the helm planning and executing the detonation, and taking all necessary precautions to reach an optimum outcome, the best they can do is determine a blast radius. They draw an imaginary circle and conclude that the fallout should be contained within that perimeter, but just to be safe, we’ll move a few hundred yards beyond that.

If under the best of circumstances detonating ordinance is sketchy, what’s been happening in the government of these United States recently, and especially the House chamber can be likened to a blindfolded rodeo clown throwing lit dynamite sticks while riding a bucking bronco. You know it’s not going to end well.

I’m not writing these words to try and change any minds, or because I feel pressured into taking a position. For the most part, the die is cast as far as changing minds, and as far as taking a position, right is right, and as long as my hands are clean before God, I am unconcerned as to people’s faux outrage, pearl-clutching, or self-righteous machinations about how it would be better by far to have individuals who advocate for the wholesale slaughter of the unborn and recently born in power, than the current administration.

I understand that some of you are conscientious objectors, and I can respect that. You are a-political, take no sides, and are neutral in every way. I may disagree with your position since I believe that as Christians, we should engage and participate - and yes, I have a Biblical basis for my belief, but that’s another topic for another time – but I can respect your stance nevertheless.

What I cannot respect are some individuals who have been sanctimoniously demagoguing about the evils of the bad orange man for the past three years, insisting that theirs was a righteous cause, now gleefully celebrating the fact that the House approved two flimsy articles of impeachment that will go nowhere in the senate.

Sorry, but if you’re popping champagne corks and throwing confetti, the reason for your sanctimony was not nobility or righteousness, but something as pedestrian and ordinary as hate. It is because you hate the man, for whatever reason, that you cloak your hatred in a thin layer of hyper-spirituality, and insist that anyone who does not see it your way is in league with the darkness itself.

Hate is keeping you from acknowledging that at least in this country, the burden doesn’t fall on the accused to prove their innocence; it falls on the accuser to prove guilt. Because you’ve so dehumanized a man, imperfect as he might be, to the point that you flippantly call him worse than Hitler, you’re perfectly comfortable with sham trials, absence of due process, withholding of exculpatory evidence, and outright lies about the strength of the case against the president.

Hate does strange things to people, and one of the worst things hate does is it makes people myopic. They can no longer see beyond the instant gratification of getting their way momentarily, and they have no concern or foresight for the fallout of their actions; it is an animalistic urge that must be satisfied at all costs.

So let me clue you in on the fallout: this will end very badly for those exuberantly celebrating this sham of a circus. Think Haman, think Mordecai, and remember that history has an odd way of repeating itself. And as for the faux-outrage crowd lurking on the internet looking for a reason to clutch their pearls and rush to the nearest fainting couch, open your eyes, and get over yourself. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Work of Your Hands


It is a far easier thing to destroy than to create, to tear down than to build up, doubly so if you had no hand in the creation of building of whatever it is you are attempting to tear asunder.

Building something up, whatever that something might be whatever for it may come in, requires time, effort, planning, execution, and determination. Whether it’s a home, a building, a business, or a sculpture, consistent dedication is required, and follow-through is paramount if one hopes to finish what they’ve started.

Destruction requires neither planning, execution or determination. Tearing down what someone else has toiled to build is frighteningly easy nowadays. All it requires is a bit of time and effort. Some brute force, some well-placed blows, a gallon of gasoline and the striking of a match, and what someone spent weeks, months, or even years building up is so much ash in less time than it takes to cook a roast in the oven.

I was watching my daughters play yesterday. The older one was playing with a set of building blocks I bought her last year, building a castle of some sort, meticulous and detail-oriented. The younger one was doodling on some coloring paper, but then she got bored, walked over to her sister, and said, “play with me.”

A few weeks ago, she started expanding her vocabulary, and now it’s like a brushfire in high winds. It is ever-growing, with new words every day, and it’s an awe and wonder to see how quickly they develop, grow, learn, and mature.

The first time she asked her sister to play with her, her sister ignored her. She waited for a breath, then repeated, “play with me, sissy.”

This time her sister acknowledged her, looked up from her building blocks, and said, “give me a minute, I want to finish this.”

Apparently her answer was unsatisfactory because the youngest, quick as a cat, swiped at the building blocks sending them scattering all over the floor. What had taken my eldest daughter a good hour to build, was laid to ruin in less than five seconds.

“That wasn’t very nice,” Victoria said to her little sister, but her sister either didn’t understand or didn’t care about what she’d done.

Our hands can be used for either building up or tearing down. It is a choice we make as to which of these two diametrically opposed avenues we will pursue, and depending on what we choose, we will either leave something beautiful or a trail of destruction in our wake.

Some have dedicated themselves to tearing others down, not out of a sense of nobility, or because they have a righteous cause, or because of anything as magnanimous as doing the right thing, but because they’re not getting the attention they think they deserve.

They strike out blindly because they feel ignored, or hurt, or sidelined, not bothering to consider that what they’re attempting to destroy in their anger and frustration is something that someone else built with love, patience, and tenderness.

The work of your hand will speak on your behalf louder than anything. What you leave in your wake will either confirm the truth of what you claim to be or expose you as a liar.

Maybe some of us need to learn that there is a difference between tearing down strongholds and tearing down other people. Then, maybe, just maybe, we will have enough awareness to identify the true enemy and go on the offensive. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Altars of Men


Every man builds an altar to something. Every man shows esteem and deference to someone or something, even those who insist that they are atheists. To hear them talk, however, you realize that atheists worship atheism. It has become their de facto god, and they are tireless in their struggle to convert as many souls to their side as they can.

Men build altars. It’s what we do, whether we realize it or not. It is an inherent driver, perhaps because in the purest recesses of our beings, within that spark, that breath of life, that sliver of the divine that animates this creaky flesh, we all acknowledge the existence of God, whether the intellect wants to submit to Him or not.

Once a man builds an altar, he must bring sacrifice upon it. If no sacrifice is had, it’s just a rock formation, stacked stone upon stacked stone, that means nothing.

What we come to realize is that the altars of men require far greater sacrifice than the altar of the One True God ever will. The gods of men are merciless, and because they are merciless the sacrifices they require at the hands of their faithful are trauma-inducing.

Whether it’s spilling the blood of the unborn on the altar of choice, sacrificing every ounce of individuality and independent thought on the altar of socialism, or doing away with any semblance of morality and decency on the altar of perversion, the gods of men are cruel taskmasters, demanding heavy tolls.

For some, the pain is too much so they resort to pills by the fistful to numb it, then when the pills no longer take the edge off, they crawl into a bottle to drown the pain altogether. Ever wonder why the most prosperous country in the world is also the leader in antidepressant consumption? Ever wonder why in a nation such as this, where there is no famine or war thousands upon thousands are dying of drug overdoses every year?

It’s not because they are happy. It’s not because they are pleased as punch at the choices they’ve made, and the sacrifices they’ve carried out on self-made altars to self-made gods. They are drowning in misery crying out to dead gods, waiting for an answer that will never come, and growing all the more despondent for it.

The gods of men desire their destruction. The God of the Bible desires to give them life and life more abundantly. The God of the Bible will not ask you to hoist dead carcasses upon a stone altar in order to please Him. The God of the Bible asks you to surrender your life that He may transform you, renew you, and perfect.

What He asks you to surrender, what He asks you to sacrifice, what He asks you to lay down are things detrimental to your wellbeing. Serving Him, and not a god of your own making will never lead you to darkness, emptiness, or death. Serving a god of your own making, however, will inevitably lead to disillusionment and despondency given enough time.

This is why the whole notion of serving God on your own terms, in the way you see fit, and giving yourself a license to go beyond the written Word in what is deemed acceptable unto God will always end badly. When you add to the Word, what you have done is created your own god, build your own altar, and commenced with the bringing of sacrifices. God is God, His Word is clear, and He is not mocked. Sin is sin because God said that it is. Whether men say it is or it isn’t, it does not change the reality of what God said. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Roaring Lion


If I were to give credence to some of the theories being disseminated among Christian circles via the interwebs, I would have to conclude that the devil is some perfect mixture of Wile E. Coyote, Elmer Fudd, and Mr. Bean. Always stepping on rakes, shooting himself in the face, scheming, and orchestrating perfect plans only to come up short and get stuck holding the lit stick of dynamite while falling off a precipice.

I would have to believe that although the devil revels in the defiling of innocence, the shed blood of the unborn, and the descent into hedonism so deep and profound that it does away with the last shreds of one’s humanity, he so muddles his plans that he and his minions end up shutting down abortion clinics, waging war against human trafficking, and redirecting society toward morality and Christ.

Maybe we are all suffering from some sort of mass Stockholm syndrome. Maybe we’ve been so brainwashed and desensitized that we will take the devil at his word and throw stones at those trying to stand in his way, but if the people certain blowhards insist are evil really are evil, they are pretty bad at being evil.

We will give the benefit of the doubt to those who trumpet the virtues of post-birth abortion, and celebrate the murder of babies both born and near term, but when someone who has been demonstrably proven to stand against the darkness and the unpopular stance they take is undeniably noble and Scriptural, we can’t wait to stab at them blindly, trying to tear them down and turn them into the monsters we’ve talked ourselves into believing they are.

We want to battle the darkness, push back evil, fight the devil on his territory, but no one seems to be up to our standards. They show up on the battlefield, swords at the ready, and we summarily chase them away because we don’t like the color of their sash, or their boots aren’t shiny enough. We come up with arbitrary reasons as to why they’re not good enough to fight alongside us, then seem surprised when we find ourselves surrounded by the enemy with no one to watch our back or fight alongside us.

“Ah, but we have God on our side!” That may be true, but God also sends others to fight alongside you, and there’s a good chance that if you think you’re the only one among seven billion that has God on his side while all others fall short, you probably don’t.

We love to quote Jesus when it suits us, but we hopscotch over His words when they don’t align with our prepackaged narrative. It was Jesus who said that a house divided against itself could not stand, and this was within the context of being accused that He cast out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons. Jesus said that’s not the way the devil operates. Jesus said the devil wouldn’t cast out the devil because, in so many words, he would knowingly be tearing down his kingdom. The selfsame kingdom he has worked tirelessly to build up.

No, the devil is not Wile E. Coyote, Elmer Fudd, or Mr. Bean. The devil will not undermine his own work or labor against his purposes. The devil is not a bumbling idiot working feverishly to undo his own works. He is as a roaring lion, precise, focused, intent, fierce, waiting for the children of God to let their guard down, to slip up, to come out from under the authority of Christ, that he may devour them at will.

So, please, before you hit share on another idiotic trope about how it is the work of evil when good is being done, how the devil himself is responsible for saving the unborn, and it’s nothing more than a smokescreen, or how it is the work of darkness when light is being promoted, consider the words of Jesus and how nonsensical a theory you are promulgating. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Long-Forgotten Kindness


Since my wife went back to work, we’ve been alternating picking up the girls from kindergarten and daycare. Depending on which day it is, I either pick up the younger one first, then go pick up her older sister or if she has a short day, I’ll pick up my oldest first, then go pick up her baby sister.

More often than not, when I pick up my eldest first, we stop at a gas station that is on the way to her sister’s daycare and pick up some chocolate milk. It’s a special treat, and she enjoys it, and I am the father of two little girls, so spoiling them once in a while is par for the course.

We walked into the gas station talking about what she’d learned in school that day, made a beeline for the cooler, took out two chocolate milks, and proceeded to go to the counter. As my daughter put the bottles on the counter waiting for the cashier to scan them, the man looked down at my daughter and said, “Your daddy’s a good man.”

“I know,” she said in a frank, matter of fact tone only a five-year-old can pull off without sounding condescending, then turned to ask me if she could have some candy, to which I answered no.

All the while, I was looking at the cashier, and noticing my confusion, he said, “you don’t remember me, do you?”

“Should I?” I asked, “Do we know each other?”

“You bought me a pizza once,” he said and broke out in a smile.

“Are you sure it was me?” I asked him.

“Yes, sir, sure as day, in Watertown, at the Little Caesar’s, about three years ago, I wasn’t doing so well back then, I was homeless, and you walked out of the store and handed me a pizza without me even asking for anything.”

I’m not sharing this story with you in the hopes that someone nominates my name for consideration for sainthood. It was a six-dollar pizza, and I can honestly say I don’t remember the man or the incident, even though I’ve been known to avail myself of the delicacies Little Caesar’s offers, delicacies only the most refined of palates can truly appreciate. I’ve also been known to purchase a few pies for people who tend to congregate by the recruitment center next door in the same little strip mall, so the man’s story rang true even if I didn’t remember him.

The reason I’m sharing this story with you is because three years in, this man still remembers a random act of kindness long forgotten by myself. For me it was six dollars; for him, it was something so impacting that he remembered my face all this time later.

Your daily interactions with the world around you matter. They will have an impact more far-reaching than you can possibly imagine, and touch the lives of others in ways you can’t even fathom.

I paid for our chocolate milks and walked out of the gas station shaking my head at how small the world is. As I was strapping my daughter into her car seat, she asked, “Tati, why did you buy that man a pizza?”

“Because he was hungry,” I answered. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Unsavory


The preeminent complaint I hear from anyone visiting from the old country is that nothing tastes the way it ought to, especially vegetables. Having lived on both continents, it is not an unwarranted complaint. One of the first things I do every time I fly back to Romania, especially if vegetables are in season, is go to the local farmer’s market, buy a handful of farm-grown tomatoes, some feta cheese, and have myself a one-person picnic on one of the rusty iron tables they provide for their customers.

I realize that part of it has to do with the nostalgia of it since this was something I used to do with my grandfather and little brothers some two decades ago when we first started going back to Romania, but the flavor profile of homegrown vegetables is undeniably different than that of industrialized farming.

It’s not that flavorful vegetables don’t exist in America, but you’d have to take out a second mortgage on your house to buy three tomatoes, half an organic chicken, and a handful of carrots. To paraphrase a young man trying to sell me apples for five dollars each at a local farmer’s market, ‘organic ain’t cheap.’

For the most part, people make do with rubbery tomatoes and flavorless carrots, rather than shell out their retirement savings for some vegetables, or bypass vegetables altogether for highly processed foodstuffs colored and made to look like tasty peas, carrots, and broccoli.

There is always an alternative if you are not willing to pay the price for the real thing, and that’s the thought that kept making its way to the forefront of my mind as I was heaping pepper and salt on a tomato that was less than savory to the taste recently.

Today’s generation doesn’t have the true manifestation of the power of God or the gifts of the Holy Spirit not because they do not exist. They do not have these things because they are unwilling to pay the cost to attain them. They find alternatives to true power because the alternatives are less costly to the flesh, less time consuming, and less exacting.

They are willing to make do with half measures, they are willing to feign satisfaction with some emotional exaltation, or a tingly feeling once in a while, but as far as pressing in, going deeper, surrendering more that more might be attained, the answer is always a firm no.

Deep down they understand that what they’ve settled for is not anywhere as good as the real thing, but in their minds, it’s better than nothing.

If my dissatisfaction with tasteless tomatoes becomes unbearable, I know I can put in the time, and build some raised beds, plant my own tomatoes, tend to them, and watch them grow, and when they are ripe eat them off the vine, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m still okay with using condiments to mask the lack of taste, and until I’m no longer okay with it, I will not put forth the effort necessary to change the dynamic.

The same goes for spiritual fullness, or the lack thereof. Until the lack of the presence and power of God become unbearable, men will do nothing to remedy it. As long as they can mask the absence of true power with exuberance, excessive animation, shaking, dancing, crawling, or jiggling, they will.

It is when that moment of desperation is reached and surpassed that all pretense is set aside, and we surrender, humble ourselves, and cry out for a true move of God, not for a day, not for a month, not for a season, but until it is made manifest.

If you are fed up with the unsavory, with the tasteless, the powerless, the visionless, it’s up to you to do what it takes to acquire the real. Substitutes will not suffice, and this is a truth more and more are waking up to every day. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Wise Choices


One of the worst things about our culture and the current generation we are living in is that we’ve made it okay for young and old alike to shirk responsibility. It is a practice that will have lasting, devastating consequences, the depths of which we’ve just begun to see in society.

It used to be men had to assume responsibility for themselves. Otherwise, they would perish. If you didn’t forage for food, build a homestead, farm your land, defend what was yours, find a wife, have children, and raise them well, you’d likely die off, having met your end at the hand of marauders, the elements, or wild animals.

You cannot look back on life with a sense of accomplishment if all you leave behind is a houseful of trinkets and precious moments dolls. You cannot hope to have a good end if every choice you make toward that end is the wrong choice, the selfish choice, the choice that puts you and your comfort, and your wants above everyone else.

We are living in a hedonistic, self-obsessed generation, and this is largely the reason why more people than ever are unhappy, joyless, and altogether dejected even with the overabundance they take for granted daily.

Like most things in life, gratitude is a choice. Being thankful, being grateful, being appreciative, and content are choices we make based on how we perceive not only ourselves but the world around us. If we fail to define what blessing is, gratitude will be hard to come by. Being blessed is not about having things. Being blessed is about more than amassing possessions, the zip code one lives in, or the number of zeroes in their bank account.

Being blessed is not a private jet; it is a loving family. Being blessed is not a private island; it is healthy, happy children. Being blessed is not your name up in lights; it is sitting around the dinner table by candlelight, looking across the faces of those whom God has entrusted into your care, and realizing you have far more than you deserve in life.

True blessing is not quantifiable by the world’s standards because true blessing comes from God, and only through the prism of the spiritual can the blessings that proceed from His hand be quantified.

True blessing is something that the world cannot give, and money cannot buy, and it’s those things we should be exceedingly thankful for.  

Rather than feverishly map out a route for where we can buy the cheapest cheaply made cheap stuff that we don’t need in the first place, perhaps our time might be better served by taking a moment and acknowledging the goodness of the Lord in our lives, acknowledging His many blessings, and thanking Him for them.

Every one of us, no matter our circumstance or lot in life has something to be thankful for. Every one of us knows of something in our lives that came from the hand of God. Every one of us can identify untold blessings in our lives if we choose to because thankfulness and gratitude are choices we can make not just once a year while suffering from the turkey sweats, but every day without fail. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.  

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Importance of Why!


What animates, what motivates, what drives, what propels? What keeps one’s nose to the grindstone? What compels one to go to war? What keeps a soul buoyed in the face of a hopeless present and an even darker future? What is the underlying reason people do what they do, say what they say, and act the way they act?

Motive matters. The why of something matters, and if we are too indifferent, lazy, or distracted to figure out motive, we will often find ourselves in untenable positions having gone along to get along until it was too late.

I’ve been married long enough to know when something is off with my wife. Those of you who’ve been married for a spell know exactly what I am talking about. Nothing needs be said; nothing needs be verbalized, there is no overly dramatic intake of breath, clutching of imaginary pearls, or rolling of the eyes, yet you know that something is just not right.

Most of the time, if I am the cause of her distress, it will be something that didn’t even register with me, yet in her eyes was an offense worthy of the gallows. I’ve had discussions with enough married men on the subject to know that I am not the only one to have gone through the mental Rolodex of what I could have possibly done to warrant the cold shoulder, only to find out it was something as innocuous as not having picked up my socks off the floor.

That said, I make it a point to find out the why of a given situation regularly, because more often than not it’s not about me, but about something at work, or a sick relative, or something wholly unrelated to our family dynamic. Had I not inquired the reason for her distress, I would have lived with the assumption that I’d done something I was not aware of having done, and since I was unaware of having committed an infraction, it was just an exaggeration on her part.

That’s how cycles of bitterness begin in one’s heart. A spouse, a parent, a child, or a friend seems upset, we assume they are upset at us, we conclude we’ve done nothing that would warrant their being upset, and we begin to resent them because we feel as though we’ve been treated unfairly.

Whatever the situation, whatever the circumstance, whatever the morsel of breaking news might be, take a second before reacting and pinpoint the motivation behind it. Reverse engineer the situation until you come to the point of discovering why something is taking place.

When you get to motive when you get to why, you will have discovered the intent of it, and once that is discovered, you will have a complete picture of all that is taking place.

The reason everyone from politicians to internet platforms, to multinational companies, to news outlets are scrambling, trying to shut off the spigot of information is because people are beginning to drill down to the intent and motive of the propaganda that they are being force-fed, and realizing the maliciousness of it. For lack of a better term, people are waking up, and that is something the cultural puppeteers desperately want to avoid. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Clarity


I am not what anyone might confuse for tech-savvy. Like everyone else, I’ve forgotten my fair share of passwords, know how to log on to my e-mail and Facebook account, but as far as being on the cutting edge of technology, let’s just say I’m nowhere close.

A couple of days ago I was in the local Best Buy looking for a webcam. My laptop has a built-in one, but it’s at the bottom of the screen, and anytime anyone wants to interview me with video, they end up getting a shot of my nasal passages, and not much else. Couple that with a plan to start doing short teaching videos on different topics, and I decided it was time to make the investment.

Noticing that I looked somewhat lost, and out of place, a young man in yellow polo walked up and asked if I needed any help. I explained the situation to him, he smiled, said follow men, and we went to the appropriate row.

We went through the different options, from the run of the mill streaming webcam to the high definition, ultra-high-definition, and the newest, the 4K webcam with clarity so pristine you could count the pores on your nose from ten feet away.

Most of what he was saying went right over my head, but he seemed excited, and I didn’t want to be rude, so I nodded along, trying to keep my eyes from glazing over.

“Oh, and if you’re worried about the clarity on the 4K,” he said, “there are filters you can download to make you seem softer.” Apparently this was enough of an issue with prior customers that he felt he needed to share this little tidbit, but I assured him I was not that vain, and I have no problem with people seeing my laugh lines or age spots, or other dermatological imperfections.

I thanked him for his time, told him I’d think about it, and once I made a decision, I’d be back. On the drive home, I couldn’t help but return to what he’d said about the clarity of the 4K camera, and how you could download software to make it less so.

There was something there that kept gnawing at me, but I couldn’t put my finger on quite what it was. As I pulled into my driveway, it dawned on me, and I realized why the interaction seemed to hold more weight than it ought.

Rather than acknowledge the reality of what we are seeing when we look in the mirror of the Word, rather than admit that the reflection is ours and that if we are unhappy with what we are seeing it is up to us to make a change, we look for filters to pacify ourselves so we can remain in the same spiritual state.

We don’t like what we are seeing, and rather than fix the flaws, we find filters to mask the flaws. Instead of humbling ourselves, seeking His face, and repenting of the things that mar our spiritual countenance, we seek out the validation of those who tell us we are beautiful just the way we are even though it’s clear as day that they have a vested interest in saying it.

Mirrors don’t lie, and neither does the Word. They have no reason to. That which is reflected in the mirror is your true countenance. Unless you’re in a funhouse at a fair, it’s not the mirror that’s trying to trick you into believing that you’re getting pudgy around the middle, or that you have crow’s feet around your eyes. If you do not like what is reflected, it is no the mirror’s fault.

The same goes for the Word, which is unflinching and unapologetic when it comes to our reflection. 

Rather than go in search of filters, or someone to tell us that it’s not what it really means, our time would be far better served in systematically allowing for the blood of Jesus to do away with the blemishes. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Reading Tea Leaves


Unless you’ve lived it, it’s hard to explain. Unless you’ve seen it firsthand, and paid close enough attention to catch shifting of the eye, the licking of the lips, or some telltale sign the individual is wholly unaware they are giving off, you’d be hard-pressed to doubt that they are truly gifted in the mystic arts or some such.

I come from a land steeped in mysticism and folklore, where caravans of gypsies still roam the lands, selling hand-tooled cookware, and offering to read your future for a small, one-time fee, usually determined on the spot depending on how rich the mark seems.

Whether it’s reading palms, tea leaves, coffee grounds, cards, or chicken bones, what the so-called practitioners of the mystic arts actually do for the most part, is read body language and emotion, drawing conclusions based on seemingly innocuous questions they ask as they are getting ready to make a connection with the other side. As I said, for the most part, it’s all a farce, having more to do with perception and educated guesses than it does with anything mystical.

I was seven years old when I had my first run-in with a gypsy woman who was something more than just a con artist. She was part of a caravan traveling through our village, something rare enough even in those days to make me run to the fence circling our property to try and sneak a peek. I was standing on a bench, so I could get a better view, watching the horse-drawn carriages rolling by on the dusty road, when a woman with braided hair and colorful, flowing skirts broke from the pack, walked up, and said she would tell me my future for a cup of water.

For a seven-year-old it sounded like a fair trade, especially since I wanted to know if my grandpa would be taking me fishing later that week, so I agreed to the terms, and she asked for my hand. I extended my hand, palm up, just as she’d shown me to do it, but when she touched my skin, she recoiled as though she’d touched an open flame. Her eyebrows arched, she muttered ‘you’re one of them,’ turned around, and walked away without speaking another word, or asking for her cup of water.

I didn’t understand all that had happened at the time, but looking back, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, I realize she was one of the rarer fortune tellers in the world, who had actually tapped into the esoteric, or what we more readily refer to as the occult. I also realize that she was powerless to do anything because even at that age, He that was in me was greater than he that is in the world.

As servants of God, as Ambassadors of Christ in this world, it is not only counterproductive but outright sinful to pretend at possessing revelatory power, when all that a vast majority are doing is nothing more than reading tea leaves.

Just because someone pays attention and they see the trajectory of something and where it might lead, does not mean they received prophetic utterance or revelation. For them to spin it as such is sin no matter how you cut it.

Yes, I believe true prophecy still exists. Yes, I believe there is divine revelation, whether through dreams, visions, or prophetic utterance. What I do not believe is that God has to compete with the evening news. 

When God gives revelation it is far enough in advance that what is being prophesied seems so out of place and improbable that the vessel chosen to deliver the warning is thought of as mad.

If you do not possess it, pray for discernment that you may know the difference between those who pretend at possessing power, and those who possess it. One clear and undeniable indicator is that those pretending at having power will attempt to highlight, promote, and otherwise elevate themselves. Those possessing true power will always point you to Christ. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Animus


I was twenty-five the first time my dad told me he loved me. It’s not a slight on him. He grew up in a different culture and a different era, where it was the women that verbalized affection. Men were supposed to be stoic, stern, unflappable immovable mountains of grit and toughness that always had a quasi-constipated look about them.

I know my dad loved me; this is indisputable. It was getting it out that took him a little while. Even so, hearing it from him for the first time was unexpectedly impacting for me, so much so, that here I am, remembering the moment and writing about it twenty years later.

I’m not what one might call and gushy, emotive sort of fellow. So, no, we didn’t cry, or hug, or have hot flashes. I nodded, said I love you too dad, and we went on with our day. Still, something about hearing the words was more important to me than I realized it, because, over the years, I find myself going back to that moment, and yes, he has said it since, often, pretty much every time we talk on the phone or meet in person.

Because I realized that somewhere deep down I needed to hear the words even though I didn’t know I needed to hear them, every morning since my daughters were old enough to understand, I ask each one individually, did Tati tell you he loves you this morning?

It has become such common practice in our home, that if perchance I have a busy morning, and I fail to tell my daughters I love them, they remind me.

Unfortunately, we are far more likely to verbalize our animus than we are our affection. We are more likely to let the world know how much we dislike or even hate someone than we are to tell those we love that we love them.

We make up excuses as to why we don’t let the words roll off our tongues, from the ever-popular ‘they already know I love them, why should I keep reminding them,’ to the tried and true ‘what if I say it, and they don’t say it back?’.

Odd thing how we never try to qualify verbalizing our dislike of someone in the same manner. I’ve never heard anyone wonder about telling someone they hated them, for fear the individual might not return the sentiment in kind. I’ve never heard anyone attempt to explain away why they didn’t tell someone they disliked them by assuming they already knew.

No, if we dislike someone, if we hold animus, or yes, even if we hate somebody, we let them know clearly, loudly, and as often as humanly possible. We’ll make banners, signs, and t-shirts, buy bullhorns, and stand outside of their home so that everyone gets the message loud and clear. We’ll even go out of our way to insert their name in conversation with others in the off chance that they, too, will share our sentiment toward said individual.

Ever wonder what the world would be like if we spent half as much energy focusing on love as we do on animus? Ever wonder what the world would be like if we were as quick to tell someone we love them as we are to tell them we hate them?

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.   

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Tenacity of Love


Try as the world might to make lust and love interchangeable concepts, it cannot. Try as the world might to convince you that love and lust are both branches of the same tree, evidence proves otherwise, because though lust is a temporary, fleeting, oftentimes worthless emotion rooted in desire, love is tenacious and lasting, and selfless.

Love is not basking in the afterglow of your happiest moments; it is being there, holding someone’s hand during their most desperate ones. Love is putting the needs of your spouse, your children, your parents, your grandparents, or even a stranger above your wants and desires, and making the requisite sacrifices.

Love is the Son of God praying for His tormentors. Love is the Son of God hanging on a cross.

Love allows for forgiveness. Love allows for redemption. Love allows for mercy and kindness.

Love is a safe harbor amid the storm, an immutable reality, as absolute and incontrovertible as God Himself.

Love is action. Love is not the momentary exaltation of your heart going pitter-patter, or the blushing of your cheeks; it is the anchor that keeps you steadfast and committed through the good and the bad, through the sorrow and the joy, through the pain of life that everyone walking the earth can relate to on some level.

What can bring someone joy varies depending on who they are and what they enjoy. I’ve known people whose most blissful moments are the hours on end they spend hoping to spot a Green Jay, or a Blue-Footed Booby in the wild. (The latter is a real bird. Look it up.) I’ve known others who get untold pleasure out of driving their car, or wading through the surf barefoot, or hearing their children saying a new word for the first time.

Pain, however, pain is pain, and we all feel it the same way. We may not react to it or deal with it the same fashion, but pain is the one commonality we all share to varying degrees. If pain is a singularly common trait, then love is the singularly common remedy for pain.

When someone is hurting, our first instinct is to point out their failures, and all the time, we told them that if they went in a certain direction, they would inevitably reach a predetermined destination. It’s hard to bite our tongues when what we knew would happen, happens, but it’s what we must do.

When someone has hit rock bottom they pretty much know where they are and how they got there. It’s not a surprise; it’s not as though they can’t retrace their steps and see where they wandered. It’s not as though they were on top of the world one moment, then found themselves at the bottom of the pit the next. Falling takes time, you get bruised and dinged along the way, and if there’s nothing to grab on to, if there’s nothing to stop your descent, then you keep falling until there’s nowhere further to fall. 

Love is the lifeline that can keep someone from hitting rock bottom. Love is what someone in freefall can latch onto, and begin pulling themselves up again. Be tenacious in loving others, because Jesus was tenacious in loving you. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Fickle Hearts


The road you’re on, whether you’re walking, driving, or biking, doesn’t care about your feelings. It doesn’t care that you’re tired, angry, frustrated, elated, or numb. The road remains the road regardless of how you feel about it, and if you want to get to where the road leads, then you must continue on your journey until your destination.

Much has been written about the heart throughout history. It has become the most notorious of body parts, not only because it pumps blood to the rest of the body thereby keeping it alive, but because it is very fickle. You can loathe one day what you loved the day before; your heart can turn to stone when once it was inviting and welcoming, and seeing the impermanence of it, Jeremiah even called it deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.

Even for someone of Jeremiah’s penchant for strong words, calling the heart deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked seems overly harsh. On the surface, perhaps, but once you begin to look into your own heart with honesty and objectivity you realize that Jeremiah was right on the money when it came to understanding the nature of flesh, and the heart that often wanders aimlessly looking for something other than what it already possesses.

We find ourselves in the weeds because we’ve wandered off the path. We find ourselves stuck in quicksand, in the swamp, in places we ought never to have ventured because rather than following the road, we followed our heart. We allowed that whisper telling us that we’re smart enough to find a shortcut to become a roar, and off we went, following our hearts, veering off the path that is Jesus in an attempt to prove Him wrong.

After all the bluster, doublespeak, and faux sincerity, what it boils down to is men attempting to prove Jesus wrong, in that although He said He was the way, denoting singularity, they have found other ways, wholly bypassing Him in the process.

If we do not resist the urge to follow our hearts, the rest of us will inevitably follow where the heart leads, even though where it leads may be uninhabitable, and dangerous. That’s the reason Jeremiah saw the heart as both deceitful and wicked. Not only will its pull never be toward the light, but it will also attempt to deceive you into believing that the terrain towards which it is pulling you is an easier trek than the road you are currently on.

Paradoxically, it’s never the heart we blame when we find ourselves far off the road, going in the opposite direction of our desired destination. Somehow, with enviable mental gymnastics and not a little disingenuousness, we lay the blame at God’s feet for doing what His word tells us we ought never to do.
Feelings are not facts, the heart is not steadfast, emotions cascade, change, morph, intertwine, crescendo, and diminish, but the road is the road, there to be traveled, willing to accept anyone willing to make the journey.

The road doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, famous or unknown, wise or just wise in your own eyes. The road doesn’t care what color skin you have, where your descendants hail from, or what you did before taking your first step on it. As long as you commit to walking the road faithfully, not looking to the left or the right, as long as you commit to pushing through even when you grow weary, or the climb gets exhausting, you will reach your destination because the road is not only the means but also the end. Jesus isn’t only the way to the Kingdom; He is the King of the Kingdom. 

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.