Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Change...And Then Some!

One would have to be blind, deaf, and living in a cave high atop a mountain to be utterly ignorant of all that has been taking place within this country the past few weeks. Yes, change is upon us, lots of change, unprecedented change, but rather than the change many wanted or hoped for we are getting the change we deserve.

I have purposefully stayed away from this topic even though some of you wrote in and insisted that I would write something on the subject matter, or at least give my opinion, because to be frank, I believe this is only the beginning.

By the time we see the full measure of the changes planned for this nation I fear most will be utterly exhausted and spent. There is only so much one can process before they shut down, disengage, or otherwise tune out. Yes, this is only the beginning, and more fundamental changes will follow in quick succession.

How can I be so certain of this?

Because these things must come to pass, they must play out in order to set the stage for the fulfillment of certain prophecies and words of knowledge that were uttered over a quarter of a century ago. It is only within the last few months that I have seen certain aspects of my grandfather’s initial prophecy concerning America become not only possible, but highly probably.

It’s not that I didn’t believe the word, or otherwise doubt it, but for many years I did not see it as a probability with my physical eyes. I kept wondering how certain aspects would come to pass, and how they would play out.

One of the things that I could not see was the advent of internal turmoil, or infighting that was to be the precursor to some of the most devastating attacks in the history of the world against this nation. For the life of me, especially after the unity and oneness this nation showed some nine years ago, I could not see how it could grow so divided and at odds. I still believed it would happen, I just didn’t see how it would happen.

Now it has become apparent that we are indeed a divided nation, and the tension that I am both feeling and seeing is almost palpable. People are angry, and some don’t even know what they’re angry about, they just know that they are.

At the risk of offending or otherwise alienating some of you, be forewarned, it is easy to get caught up in patriotic bluster, and lose sight of the fact that we are first and foremost citizens of heaven.

For anyone that thinks I am writing this as a detached observer, or one who is indifferent, please know that I do love this country. Yes, I am an immigrant, yes I was born in another nation, but I have spent almost two thirds of my life here, and I have made this nation my home. It does grieve me to see all that is happening, but all that is happening is due to the choices we have made as a nation, and we must own up to it.

Tensions will continue to rise, the feeling of disenfranchisement will continue to grow, and the notion of internal conflict is no longer an issue of ‘if’ bit an issue of ‘when’.

So what are we to do? First, take strength in the reality that the God who foresaw these things unfolding is the selfsame God who has seen to your protection and safety.

Second, remain steadfast in Christ, remembering His words to Peter that if one lives by the sword, one will inevitably be felled by the sword.

Our duty as children of God is not to react, but rather to endure. Yes, we must endure not for a day, not for a week or a season, but until the end. Even when persecution will abound, even when we will be openly mocked, maligned, scoffed at and rejected, we must endure!

If we are to glorify God in all things, then even in our suffering we must glorify God.

The worst thing we as believers can do is place an ideal, a nation, or a movement, before the will and Word of God. The second worst thing that we can do is squander this time that we have and not draw closer to God, seeking His will, and learning to hear His voice.

There are some who will be immobilized by the fear of the unknown, even within the house of God because they have chosen to embrace a sunshine Christianity, and a good time gospel. They will not know how to react to everything that is happening, because in their hearts they never considered the possibility of being here for the unfolding of these events. While some will cower in fear, those who have been vigilant, obedient, growing and maturing in Christ, preparing themselves spiritually will see the glory, power and provision of their God.

Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Dimensions of God's Love

There are certain moments in life, when God reveals something to you that is so magnificent, so glorious, so monumentally eye opening that you just get overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the revelation. I am not referring to a word of prophecy, a dream or a vision, but simply an explanation of a certain passage in scripture, a verse, even a sentence that had until that time been a mystery or only partially understood.

I had read a certain passage in Ephesians countless times, and in my Bible the few verses that make up this passage are entitled ‘prayer for realization’ I would read, and reread this passage, and would always wonder to myself how it is that Paul hoped we as believers would realize and comprehend the width, length, depth, and height of the love of God. Seeing as I’m getting ahead of myself and some of you might not know what I’m talking about, the scripture I am referring to is Ephesians chapter three, verses fourteen through nineteen.

Ephesians 3:14-19, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

One day, as I was rereading this passage, the means by which we could understand the width, length, depth and height of God’s love came to me. It was so simple that I felt foolish for not seeing it earlier, for not perceiving the truth of this passage many years before. The only way we can explain the passage in Ephesians, is by decoding it with John 3:16. In essence, the passage in Ephesians is a graphic representation of John 3:16.

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

We begin with the width of God’s love, which is represented in the first six words of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world” this is the width of God’s love. Contrary to popular belief, God didn’t love just a handful of us; God didn’t love just a certain nationality, a certain skin color, or a certain denomination, but the world as a whole. Yes, the width of God’s love is all encompassing. God loved the world, in its entirety, and so He gave His only begotten Son.

It is in the next seven words of this verse that we perceive the length of God’s love, in that He did give His only begotten Son. God didn’t just go to great lengths to show us His love, to prove His love for mankind, he went to the ultimate length, and from that point He could go no further. He gave the best and most precious thing He had, He gave His only Son, that we might receive Him, know Him, love Him, and worship Him. One need only consider the lengths to which God went on behalf of mankind, and for the sake of mankind to be in constant awe and wonder of His love. When we compare the love of God, and what the world considers love, we begin to see the faded and shallow thing the world readily touts as the purest of love. If we are to understand true love, the true measure of love, the true length and width and depth and height of love, it can only be understood through the prism of God’s love for mankind.

In order to perceive the depth of God’s love we need only understand the purpose and reason for which God, in His limitless love, gave His only begotten Son, and that is so whoever believes in Him should not perish. The depth of God’s love is such, that no matter who we are, no matter what we might have once done, no matter how hateful we were of the things of God, or how often we rejected Him, if we come to believe in Jesus, if the love of God takes root in our hearts, and we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have everlasting life.

So often we as mere mortals attempt to dictate terms to God, demanding that certain individuals be saved, while others be forever cast out from His grace. We are so foolish, yet think ourselves so wise, so weak yet think ourselves so strong that we think nothing of passing judgment on others and boastfully thinking to ourselves that we will be on the other side of the gates when they are summarily turned away and denied entry. It is often due to the fact that we have lost sight of the depth of God’s love that we are so ready to pass sentence and cast others into the outer darkness. Remember always, the love of God is so deep that once faith takes hold of a heart, and the turning away from the things of the world takes place, He receives us into His embrace.

Last but not least we have the height of God’s love, which can be readily perceived and understood by God’s desire that all who believe in Jesus would have eternal life. God’s desire is not for us to perish, but rather for us to have eternal life. Are there some who perish? Yes, there are. The idea of universalism that has been creeping even within the house of God lately is nothing but foolishness wrapped up in intellectually sounding platitudes. This notion of many paths leading to the same destination is true but not in the way that it is presented. Yes all paths but one lead to the same destination, but it is not bliss, heaven, or paradise, it is hell, torment and eternal separation from God. There is only one path that leads to paradise, there is only one path that leads to glory, there is only one path that leads to an eternity in God’s presence, and that is the path which God made possible by sending His only begotten Son. Faith in Jesus will not only keep us from perishing, it will grant us eternal life in His presence.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the width, length, depth and height of God’s love and begin thinking to ourselves that He loves us too much to let us perish, but the overwhelming greatness of God’s love must be tempered with God’s justice and righteousness. Yes, God loved the world, so much so that He sent His only begotten Son, and we are given the choice to either believe in Him, not perish, and have everlasting life, or reject His sacrifice, reject His love, and reject His grace, thereby choosing to perish.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Is Jesus in Your Boat?

Well, I turned thirty five this week. I am officially middle aged. The following is a study I did awhile ago, but I believe it's time I posted it given everything that is happening in the world today. Thank you all for reading, and commenting.

Mark 4:35-41, “On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side. Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher do You not care that we are perishing?’

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ and the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him.’

Jesus had spent the day ministering and preaching the Word. Evening had come, and as Jesus looked to His disciples, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’

We can look at this passage as merely a beautiful recollection of an event that took place, which accentuated the power and majesty of Jesus, but we can also dig deeper, and see the spiritual applications that we can attribute to this text.

The Word of God is a treasure trove of wisdom, if only we are willing to put in the effort, and seek it out diligently. When we look at this text from a spiritual perspective we see the Word open up before us, and nourish our spirits with wisdom and understanding. Yes, there is much we can glean from this passage in God’s holy Word, and today I just want to share a few things that God spoke to my spirit as I was meditating on this passage in prayer.

The first thing that stood out as I was reading this text is the fact that beside the boat that Jesus was in with His disciples, there were also other little boats floating along the body of water trying to cross over to the other side. Even though all the boats had the same destination in mind, only one carried Jesus the Son of God, and was therefore ensured that it would make it to the opposite shore; only one was assured that it would make it to the other side.

Today there are many little boats that want to carry humanity to the other side. If we look at the sea that is this world, we can see the other little boats trying to get people to the other side in a multitude of places. Every boat captain and every other little boat promises to get you to the other side. Every religion in this world has eternity and immortality as its final port, as its final destination, ensuring those that would get in, that they will make it to the other side. Yes, there were many other little boats that were on the sea other than the one that Jesus was in, all trying to get to the other side.

If one would have looked at all the boats in the middle of the sea from afar, they would all look very similar. It was not like it is today with sail boats, and speed boats, with cruise ships and private yachts, all the boats of that time would have been fishing vessels, all looking similar, but the one thing that was different is who was in one of those boats. Jesus was in one of the boats.

Another thing that leaped out from the pages of Scripture was the fact that all of the boats went through the windstorm that arose. It wasn’t just the boat that Jesus was in, but all the boats were going through the same storm. Everyone goes through storms in this life, and everyone needs someone to speak to the storm and still the winds and calm the seas. This is why the Christian testimony is so important and powerful. When we see others in the same boat as we once were, alone and without Jesus, and see the storms of life battering them about, we see them sinking into desperation and hopelessness, we can say, ‘I was once like you! I was alone in the storms of this life, and I found Jesus, yes, I found Jesus and he spoke to the wind and stilled it, and He spoke to the seas and calmed them, and my boat did not capsize, and my faith was not shipwrecked, and we continue our journey over to the other side.’

Yes, those in other boats lose loved ones, those in other boats lose their jobs, those in other boats have heartaches, those in other boats see the harbingers of war and rumors of war all around them, and we need to be bold enough to cry out to those in the other boats, ‘You need Jesus! You need Jesus now, before you capsize, before you drown, before the storm overtakes you. You need Jesus in your boat!’

How lonely it must be in a boat, in the middle of a storm without Jesus.

We are all navigators, we are all headed toward a distant shore, one hundred years from now, none of us are going to be here, we will have reached our destination, but the question, the utmost question, the paramount question is, is Jesus in your boat? Is Jesus in my boat?

Even though Jesus was sleeping in the stern, He was still in the boat. Sometimes we see the storms coming, and we don’t see Jesus doing anything to stay the storm, just remember He is in your boat, He knows when it is time to speak to the storms in your life and still them; He knows when it is time to calm the winds.

Storms are a given, they are guaranteed. Whenever we sail toward the other side, it is inevitable that we will run across windstorms, and crashing waves, it is inevitable that we will see the gathering dark clouds on the horizon and watch from the corner of our eye as they approach.

The storm that the disciples found themselves in was no light storm; it was not a mere ruffling of the leaves, a mere breeze, or a mere swelling of the waves. Consider the fact that the men in the boat with Jesus were experienced fishermen. They knew a bad storm from an average storm, and if Peter, John, James and Andrew, all professional fishermen thought that they were about to perish, then they were really about to perish.

My grandfather was a fisherman, he loved to fish, and he would go out in the most horrid weather because in his estimation that was when the fish were biting. I wouldn’t even dare poke my head out the door in weather so foul, yet there he was, smiling broadly and ruffling my hair, saying he was going fishing for awhile. Fishermen are a special lot! They are not easily spooked, they don’t overreact, and they contend just fine with bad weather.

This storm on the Sea of Galilee was a memorable one. It is certain that men such as Peter who had spent his entire life on the sea had been in storms before, as had John, and James, and Andrew. They had experienced heavy winds, they had experienced high seas, but here they were, scared, saying to Jesus “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

There will always be storms of varying size and length that will buffer our boats and the enemy’s singular desire is to see our boats capsize. If he could he would drill a hole in the bottom of our boat just to make us sink faster, because he doesn’t want to see us cross over to the other side, safely with Jesus in our boats.

I realize this teaching might seem odd and out of place, because in most churches, regardless of denomination, we have a tendency to leave out the part about the storms in life.

‘Come to Jesus, and it’s all rose petals and butterflies. Come to Jesus, and he’ll make your teeth straight and your acne go away.’

We accentuate all the things that God can do for us, we accentuate all the blessings we should be expecting as soon as we sign on the dotted line, but we omit the fact that in every life there will be storms, and in some instances the storms will get so bad that we will cry out as the disciples, “Teacher do you not care that we are perishing?”

My desire, and my calling in this life as pertains to ministry, is to present the truth of the gospel to you. That’s it! My singular purpose is the truth of God’s Word, and sharing it with all who would heed it. I have no dreams of Christian stardom; I have no desire to be anything more than I am at this moment in time.

When I speak of the truth of God’s word, I do mean the entirety of His Word. I want to share the entire gospel with you. Not just a partial fragmented Gospel, but the entire gospel that you might count the cost that you might know what it is to be in a boat with Jesus.

We want to believe men when they tell us everything’s going to be alright. That we will only experience smooth sailing with not a cloud in the sky, but then the storms come, and we are left wondering, what about what the man with the nice suit told me? Am I not supposed to sail only in sunny days? What’s with this storm? What’s with this heartache, what’s with this sadness?

It would be disingenuous of me, in fact it would be an outright lie to tell you that you will never again see a storm cloud, that you will never again be caught in the midst of a maelstrom, but what I can promise you, because the Word of God promises it, is that if Jesus is in the boat with you, He will calm the winds and He will rebuke the storm.

We have adopted this mentality in recent years, especially in this country that if we present a complimentary gospel, or a different gospel to those who hear us, if we smooth out the rough parts, and omit the passages about the trials of this present life, they will be more likely to stay in church. We need to be honest and forthright, no matter the consequence. We need to preach the truth of God’s Word and tell people the truth, that once you step in the boat with Jesus the storms become your constant enemy.

Even Jesus admonished us to count the cost of discipleship, to count the cost of following after Him, so that we would not grow discouraged, so that we would not be overcome by the storms of this life, but to expect them, and stand firm in the promises of God.

Some of you might hate me right now, but I would be doing you a disservice if I were to tell you, you will never see a storm again. Would you not think me a liar when you were in the midst of the storm a week from now or a month from now?

Storms are a given, but as long as we keep our eyes firmly fixed on the other side, as long as we remember the home that is waiting for us, we will weather the storms, and come through stronger for them.

Storms come in various disguises, whether a physical ailment, a rebellious child, a disagreeable spouse, a need, a loss, yes there are many storms that come along attempting to capsize our boats. Each time we just want the storm to pass, we want to see the sun again, but in many instances, the storm lasts longer than we anticipated, sometimes it seems that it will never end.

So why is it that sometimes storms last so long?

One of the primary reasons that some storms last so long, is that we try to steer our own way out of them; we row and row, trying to avoid the clouds, trying to avoid the winds on our own, in our own strength, by our own intelligence, and through our own aptitudes. We try to fix it ourselves before we run to God, we try to figure things out out ourselves before we ask for His guidance.

The winds cannot be calmed, and the sea cannot be stilled by human ability, but by sovereign providence.

The second reason I believe this storm lasted as long as it did, was because Jesus was sleeping in the stern on a pillow. This may hurt, but it’s the truth, some of us have not allowed Jesus to be alive, some of us have not allowed Jesus to manifest whether in our churches or in our families for so long that there is no room for Him anymore. Our sermons, our programs, our service time is so meticulously planned, that we leave no room for Jesus, we leave no room for the flow of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and him with Me.”

Now let me put this verse into context for just a second. This verse is part of a message written to the church of Laodicea by none other than Jesus. What door was He standing at? He was standing at the door of the church. While everyone was inside following their program, while everyone was inside just going through the motions, Jesus stood outside; He stood at the door and knocked. Jesus wasn’t in the church; He was outside the church waiting for someone to let Him in!

There was no room for Jesus in the church because of men and their agendas, and their programs, and their desire to lead rather than to submit to God, so He stood at the door and knocked hoping that someone would open the door, and desire not merely to use Him as a prop, or as a means to get people to open their checkbooks, but rather to dine with Him, to fellowship with Him, and to be in His presence.

The presence of Jesus in our boat does not spare the boat from the storm. This is a truth that we need to understand, because too many souls today are brokenhearted due to the fact that they are going through a storm, and someone told them that it’s because they didn’t have enough faith. Please understand, please open your heart and understand, if Jesus is in your boat, it does not mean that you will not go through the storms of this life. If you have hardships, if you have heartache, if you have disappointments, it is not because you have no faith, these are the storms, they come over everyone, but if Jesus is in your boat, your storm will be the means by which He will show you His power. Jesus will calm the storm. Jesus will quiet the winds.

By the same token if someone has everything and they are never hurting, and you never see them shed a tear, it does not mean that they have God, or that they have reached the pinnacle of faith. Jesus spoke of an entire congregation in the book of Revelation and said, ‘you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’

We get so caught up on judging the outward circumstances of individuals and allowing their circumstances to dictate our opinions of whether or not these individuals have a strong and abiding faith.

‘Well, if you’re suffering you have no faith. If you’re not suffering, you have faith.’

That is so simplistic, and foolish and destructive, because you can be suffering, and feel Jesus comforting you, you can be hurting and feel Jesus encouraging you, because He is with you in your suffering, He is with you in your hurt.

Sometimes the storms of life are the greatest teachers we will ever have. You learn things in the midst of your storm that you never would have learned on a calm and sunny day. Just consider what the disciples learned in the midst of this storm. It was in the storm that they discovered the power of Jesus.

They had walked with Jesus, they had heard Jesus preach, they had listened to his parables, but only in the storm did they say, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

If you read the gospel according to Mark past this point, you begin to realize that from the time of the storm, and from the time that Jesus rebuked the wind, his disciples saw Him as Lord. They viewed Him differently, because they saw His power over the wind and the sea.

They were not as amazed at seeing the fishes and loaves being multiplied, as they were upon seeing nature itself bow down before the Son of God and obey Him.

The disciples not only discovered who Jesus was, but they also discovered who they were. Up until this time it is likely that they had a good opinion of themselves. They were after all professional fishermen, good mariners, men of the sea, faithful disciples of Jesus, and full of faith. Yet Jesus says to them:

“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

How could Jesus say this to his disciples? Well, quite simply because they had proven their lack of faith. They knew the promises of Jesus, they knew that He had said He would be with them always, even to the end of the age, yet here they were, thinking they were about to perish.

Sometimes we ourselves forget the promises of Jesus, and we get fearful. We see the chaos that is taking place all around the world, and we begin to wonder to ourselves, and be concerned in our heart.

If you got in the boat with Jesus, and Jesus is in the boat with you, than trust Him, believe Him, He will take you to the other side safely. He ensures our safety, yet we are still afraid. He made a promise, oh, that we would believe His promise.

He is with us, in good days and evil days, in bright days and dark days, in days of plenty and days of lack. Jesus is with us, He is in our boat, and He is the one that crosses over to the other side. Trust Jesus, He will never fail you!

Psalm 4:8, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

If the Lord promised that He is with you, what have you to fear? In the twelfth chapter of Acts, Peter gets apprehended by Herod, after he saw that the killing of James the brother of John had pleased the Jews. Herod planned to behead Peter the next morning and sent sixteen men, or as the Word describes it, four squads of soldiers, to keep him until that time.

Rather than write out his last will and testament, or a moving letter of farewell to the brethren, Peter slept between two soldiers, as the hours ticked by. He was unconcerned with the threats of Herod, because he knew that his King Jesus was greater still.

Peter was sleeping so soundly, that an angel had to strike him on the side to wake him, and said to him, ‘arise quickly’ and the chains fell off his hands. If you haven’t read the passage yet, well, spoiler alert, the angel leads Peter out of prison.

Peter had learned to trust Jesus, Peter had learned how not to be afraid.

What saddens me is the fact that men like Paul and Silas, two more men of God who found themselves with their feet in stocks, were able to sing songs of praise to God in prison, while we murmur in freedom in liberty.

If Jesus is in the boat with you, then be sure of your destination. Do not be concerned with the storm, it will pass, and if the storm gets too violent, cry out to Jesus, because He will hear your cry. It worked for His disciples, when they cried out to Him; He awoke and calmed the storms. Call Him in the day of trouble, and He will be there. Cry out to Him, and He will rebuke the storm. Make Him first! Go to Jesus first! Do not make him your last resort, make Him your first option, and He will always be there.

If Jesus is not in your boat, then with all the love I have in my heart I urge you to invite Jesus to journey with you through the storms of this life. If He is not in your boat, if Jesus does not walk with you, then sooner or later you will capsize regardless of how wise, capable or self sufficient you might think yourself to be.

Yes, storms will come, but we serve a good God whom the wind and the sea must obey.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Straits

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about sailing. I know a few nautical terms like everyone else, you know, the basic ones like hull and bow, helm and cuddy, but that’s pretty much it. What I do know is that people who sail love to be out in the open waters watching the sun make its way across the sky, enjoying the solitude that comes with being in the middle of a large body of water. I can understand that; I can relate to it; I like solitude.

There are times however when those large bodies of water begin to narrow, and if they become narrow enough sailors call them straits. Fun and carefree as the open waters might be, when one happens upon a strait their focus needs to be sharp, and their singular purpose is to navigate the narrow channel.

Although some believers subscribe to the idea that our Christian walk is just one long boat ride with the sun at our backs and the wind gently billowing in our sails, the reality is that often times we as believers must also navigate spiritual straits. Yes there are times when we find ourselves on the open sea, when our relationship with God is at its peak, when our prayer life is growing daily, when we feel the presence and the direction of God even in the smallest decisions we are faced with, but there are also times when we are buffeted by enemies, deserted by friends, abandoned by family, and attacked by the devil with such vicious ferocity that it’s all we can do just to stay afloat.

In those seasons and instances wherein we find ourselves navigating the spiritual straits of life, there is one truth that should bring us comfort and strength, one truth that should keep us and sustain us, the fact that others throughout history have navigated such straits, and that God will stand with you just as He stood with them.

Whenever we find ourselves in these spiritual straits, it is easy to grow weary, it is easy to grow discouraged, it is easy to throw our hands up in the air and with a heavy sigh throw in the towel and stop fighting. It is in these moments when we somehow find countless justifications for giving up, for not enduring to the end, and for not pressing on. Yes, sometimes it seems like the whole world is warring against us, those who ought to understand us best don’t understand us at all, others aren’t facing nearly as much opposition, and those who have ceased fighting seem more rested, more youthful and more vibrant than us.

Today I want to discuss five men who found themselves in spiritual straits, and see their reaction to these seasons in their lives. Each man had a different strait to navigate, each situation was different than the others in some way, but all five had the wisdom and strength of character to stand, to fight, to persevere and to endure.

The first man we will be discussing today is Noah. To me Noah has always exemplified what to do when we are attempting to navigate the spiritual straits of perceived failure. This is especially true for anyone that has been called into ministry. There are times when the most inspired of sermons will not stir the hearts of the hearers, and there are times when the most emotional pleas for repentance will not cause one single soul to kneel before the foot of the cross. In those instances there is always that sense of failure that washes over the preacher, that feeling of inadequacy and hopelessness wherein the sorrow of evident apathy is almost too much to bear.

Noah lived amidst a godless generation. He was a man who faithfully preached for one hundred and twenty years, but neither his personal example nor his sermons did anything to sway the hearts of those who heard him. In the end it was only Noah and his family who entered the ark, a total of eight people after over a century of preaching. What we must understand is that obedience is often times its own reward. When God calls us into ministry, when God burdens us with a message, our duty is to remain clean before God, and speak what God has instructed us to speak. Whether men receive or reject the message, whether they mock or embrace the warnings of God is up to them. Our duty remains our duty regardless of how many receive the message.

The second man we will be discussing is Joseph. To me Joseph has always exemplified what to do when we are attempting to navigate the spiritual straits of perceived alienation. Here he was, having been sold into slavery by his own brothers, a young man in Potiphar’s house alone and absent the comfort of family or friends. It is in these seasons of feeling alone and alienated that the enemy sees an opportunity to lay out a trap, hoping to ensnare us. Temptation was pervasive and constant by way of Potiphar’s wife, and Joseph was nothing more than a slave. No one was there to encourage him, no one was there to fellowship with him, yet Joseph understood what many today do not, that even when we feel alone and alienated, God is with us.

I have met men who spent years in prison for having distributed Bibles, or having been caught preaching the Word, and in sharing their testimonies many of them recalled one aspect of their incarceration with great joy. Having perceived human psychology from a purely atheistic viewpoint, the prison guards believed that one of the cruelest punishments that could be visited upon the prisoners short of torture was to send them to solitary confinement for long periods of time. What these guards did not understand is that these men were not alone. The presence of God was with them, and even in solitary confinement they did not feel alienated or alone. We must understand that God is with us even when He is silent, His eye watches over us even in our times of trial.

The third man on the list that we can learn from when it comes to finding ourselves in spiritual straits is David. Yes, the shepherd boy who would be king, that David, but what I found relevant within the context of this teaching was David’s life during his time at Saul’s Palace. From David we learn what to do when we find ourselves in the spiritual straits of unrequited love. Not only was David’s love not returned by Saul, it was answered with hatred and thoughts of murder. I have known quite a few brothers who having lived through this strait of unrequited love over and over again, simply gave up serving altogether. It is painful, especially for a true shepherd or teacher of the Word who pours himself out every day and hurts for those God has placed under his care to realize that he is despised by those selfsame sheep rather than appreciated. When we begin to navigate the straits of unrequited love, we must always remember that we have a duty to perform, and our ultimate reward comes from the hand of God, not the hands of men.

The fourth man on our list that we can learn something from when we find ourselves in spiritual straits is Daniel. In many ways Daniel is allot like Joseph, both being slaves, one in Potiphar’s house, one in Nebuchadnezzar’s courts, both men being offered a means of compromise, both men refusing to defile themselves. What we learn differently from Daniel than we did from Joseph is that Joseph was never asked to denounce his God and embrace idols. Daniel was asked just that. He was confronted with the changing of his name, as well as his spiritual identity. From a purely logical point of view, Daniel had no reason to remain faithful to his God. Here he was a slave in a strange land, and he saw the opportunity to garner favor by simply going along, and doing as he was told. This is where faith has its say, this is where true faith shines bright as the sun, because when we possess true faith even in our times of distress, even in our times of uncertainty, even when all that we knew is shattered, we still cling to our God knowing that He will make a way. Daniel would not defile himself, he would not succumb to the pressures of blending in and going along, and because of his faithfulness God elevated him to great stature.

The fifth and last man that we can learn from when finding ourselves in spiritual straits is Mordecai. To me Mordecai has always exemplified what to do when we are attempting to navigate the spiritual straits of fierce opposition. Mordecai was a man who fought for his people, and would let nothing stand in his way. No matter the setbacks, no matter the opposition he faced, Mordecai did not relent until he obtained victory.

We can learn something from each of these five men, but the most important overall lesson for me at least is that spiritual straits are temporary, and with faithfulness, diligence, and obedience we are able to navigate them, coming out of our season of trial that much stronger.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Certified Gout Expert

After combing through all the feedback concerning my gout, I can say with certainty that I am close to being a certified gout expert. Thank you all for your caring, I do appreciate it. I knew about the cherries and the baking soda, but I didn't know about some of the other remedies some of you listed.
There was one comment I would like to respond to, and that was from someone accusing me of not understanding the nature of God if I believed God allowed this pain in my body. The simplest response to that, is of course Paul's experience with his thorn in the flesh.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10, "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
With that having been said, I will post a somewhat more substantial article this weekend. We've been working on updating the hand of help website, and that has taken up a substantial portion of my time. We've also been filming the truth for today program faithfully, and between those things, and other ministry matters, I really haven't had much quiet time.
If I could encourage you to do one thing, is pray continously, fervently, and passionately, for the peace of God to rest upon you, and reside in you. We have entered into some truly turbulent times, and all the natural disasters, coupled with civil unrest, coupled with an undercurrent of division and outright hatred throughout the world will necesitate our having the peace of God, that we might not react as the world, that we might not grow fearful as the world, but trust in the arms of our heavenly Father. Thank you again for your prayers, yoru advice on my infirmity, and your understanding for my need to balance my ministry life and my family life.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.