Sunday, October 17, 2010

Twisted Ways

Proverbs 19:3, “The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord.”

So what twists a man’s way? Is it false teaching, is it false doctrine, is it false prophets, is it lying spirits? No, it is a man’s own foolishness that twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord. In our foolishness we allow false teaching into our hearts, in our foolishness we allow false doctrine and false prophets and lying spirits to worm their way into our minds, and our ways become twisted because we did not remain steadfast in Christ, because we did not commit to the truth of the Gospel but rather sought other ways, other means, other truths that seemed easier for the flesh, that the heart deemed more in concert with our present age, that were not so controversial, so cut and dry, so black and white.

In our foolishness we give in to the voices all around us, in our foolishness we succumb to the temptations of the world, in our foolishness we stray from the path of righteousness that is clearly highlighted in the Word, and our hearts begin to fret against the Lord.

“I know Your word says something different, but I just don’t see it that way Lord. I know you command righteousness and holiness of your people, but there are so many who straddle the world and the church, whose hearts are divided, who have a superficial faith, and they seem to be doing alright, they don’t seem to be suffering.”

When in our foolishness we attempt to interpret the mind of God, when in our foolishness we attempt to remove certain truths from the Bible to make our walk easier for the flesh, it is only a matter of time before our hearts begin to fret against the Lord.

No, it is not God’s fault, it is not that He wasn’t clear enough in His word, it is not that we didn’t understand what He was trying to say, it’s that in our foolishness we thought we knew better, we thought we could do away with the old path, and construct a new path for ourselves absent of valleys, absent of hardship, absent of effort on our part, just a straight shot to the holy of holies, into the warm embrace of an ever indulgent God who just can’t wait to wrap His arms around us and smother us with His love and kindness.

Our own foolishness blinds us to the justice of our God; our own foolishness blinds us to the righteousness of our God, and our own foolishness blinds us to the holiness of our God. Too many today echo the words of the mother of us all, ‘the serpent made me do it’, refusing to acknowledge that the serpent only tempts, a man’s foolishness, absence of vigilance, and lack of knowledge concerning the things of God is what makes him fall into that temptation.

When we are wise concerning the things of God, when we are humble in regards to the will of our God, our hearts will never fret against the Lord, for we know that He is working all things for the good of those who love Him.

Proverbs 19:8, “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Tradeoffs

Galatians 1:6-7, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

There is an old saying, but a true saying, that the more things change the more they stay the same. Civilization has come a long way since the days of Paul, since the days when after one painstakingly wrote a letter by hand, with quill and ink on parchment, they then had to entrust it to a courier, a messenger of sorts who would, whether by foot or boat, deliver it to its final destination.

Yes, times have changed, and today with the push of a button our electronic mail is sent, and we don’t even have to set foot outside, or change out of our pajamas. Although we have grown in our technological advancements however, although the gadgets and trinkets that are supposed to make our lives easier have multiplied exponentially, the basic nature of mankind has remained stubbornly similar to those of old, and new generations repeat the mistakes of old generations without hesitation or a hint of reservation.

Seeing the festering boils of what ought to be the spotless church today, one might conclude that such hideousness is new and unprecedented, but we need look no further than the Word of God to see that history is repeating, it’s just the numbers that have gotten bigger.

In his letter to the church of Galatia Paul bemoans the fact that although he had put in the time and energy to establish a solid foundation for the Galatians, no sooner had he left, than they were turning away from the truth of Christ to a different gospel. No sooner had Paul departed, and the wolves descended upon the church attempting to trouble the brethren and pervert the gospel of Christ. Why would anyone do such a thing? Quick fact, anyone that attempts to pervert the gospel of Christ, and complicate the simplicity thereof always has a vested interest, and is always seeking to serve themselves rather than the body of Christ.

With everything in life there is an implied tradeoff, wherein we surrender, give up, or turn away from one thing in order to obtain another, or achieve a desired result. I know that in order for me to lose weight, I have to give up sugar and carbohydrate rich foods. That is the tradeoff.

More examples could be had, but they would just become tedious. The point I am trying to make, is that the same principle applies within the context of the spiritual as well. If we want to know God, we must turn our back on the world, if we want to grow in God, we must make time for Him, and since we cannot add more hours to a day, we must do away with certain things that take up our time and replace them with spending time with God.

It would be wonderful if God’s children always traded up, if their tradeoff was always spiritually profitable, but more and more it seems we are trading down. Just as the Galatians were trading the grace of Christ for another gospel, a perverted gospel, so it seems today’s church is making one bad trade after another, then wonders why we are in the spiritual condition we are in.

Not only is the church trading the priceless for the worthless, the eternal for the temporal, the spiritual for the superficial, integrity for compromise, conviction for integration, truth for deception, the power of God for political clout, the kingdom of God for kingdoms on earth, fellowship for frivolity, and intimacy with God for lawlessness, it is encouraged to do so by its leaders.

Why would leaders encourage their flocks to trade down? Why would they encourage their flocks to focus on the flesh rather than the spirit, to seek out temporary comfort rather than eternal reward? Because if the flock is not pursuing growth in God, if it is not pursuing spiritual things, then it will not notice the powerlessness of the hair helmet in a suit standing before them smiling broadly and encouraging them to love themselves just the way they are.

If our desire is to know the depth and width of God and all that He has to offer us, then we must stop making tradeoffs that are detrimental to our spiritual man, and rather than seek to please ourselves, or please others, we must strive to please Christ and Christ alone.

The hour is late, and those who want to pervert the gospel of Christ seem to be multiplying, mounting attacks from without and from within the house of God, and our only defense, our only recourse, our only hope is the truth.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Death of Ignorance

A recent survey done by the Pew forum entitled ‘Religious Knowledge Survey’ concluded that although Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, they are also ignorant about their religion. These findings are not a surprise to anyone who has done an objective analysis of a great majority of today’s churches, and some would even go so far as to say that there is an epidemic of ignorance in the church, but even though the veracity of this study’s conclusions are doubtless true, it is by no means acceptable.

Whether due to ignorance or outright indifference much of the church fails to acknowledge that we face an enemy who is a schemer at heart, whose plans extend beyond a single phase attack, who has backups for his backups, and whose singular desire is the destruction of God’s children.

Even the most basic of the enemy’s attacks is multilayered, because he is not one to give up, he is not one to surrender, and he continues to storm the citadel of the soul wherever he perceives there is a weakness or a crack.

The first way in which the enemy makes war against the children of God is by employing temptation, which coincidentally is also the most successful weapon in his arsenal. When we speak of temptation, the mind automatically latches onto lust, but there are a variety of things that believers are tempted with on a daily basis. For some lust is a nonstarter, but pride might be their weakness; if pride is not their Achilles heel, then perhaps greed is, and if greed fails tempt them into glutting themselves with the Babylonian delicacies, then perhaps the enemy might have a shot with compromise. On an almost monthly basis we hear of preachers, evangelists, respected members of the Christian community giving into one or more of these temptations, and when this occurs the enemy just moves on to his next potential conquest.

There are those who resist temptation, there are those who stand strong against the plans and schemes of the enemy, but make no mistake the enemy does not give up that easily. If he cannot tempt us into becoming vessels of dishonor, he just moves on to the next phase of his attack, which is deception. If the enemy can’t tempt you away from the truth, he will invariably attempt to deceive you away from the truth. Just as a drop of ink in a gallon of water makes the entire thing undrinkable, a little deception can have devastating ramifications in the lives of believers.

I’ve known people who allowed a hint of false teaching to creep into their doctrinal beliefs, who eventually came to deny the deity of Christ, who questioned the virgin birth, and whether the resurrection of the Son of God really happened. It started small, and snowballed into apostasy.

If the enemy can’t tempt you into becoming a vessel of dishonor, if he can’t deceive you into forfeiting your birthright, then he will settle for keeping you ignorant of the power and authority that you have in God.

It is this last group that is by far the largest, masses of individuals who although strive for righteousness, and keep themselves pure in the sight of God, are ignorant of the power that they have access to in Christ Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit.

The enemy loves an ignorant Christian, because an ignorant Christian is a powerless Christian, and a powerless Christian is no threat to the enemy at all.

So how do we combat ignorance? How we keep from being just another face in the crowd that is unaware of the promises of God for them, that is unaware of the power of God in them, and that is unaware of the authority that they posses?

The first thing we must do in order to combat ignorance is be humble enough to learn!

We all like being teachers, but few of us like being taught. It is human nature to think that we know it all, that we’ve amassed all the knowledge there was to amass, and as such we are no longer teachable. We are no longer humble enough to acknowledge our need to grow in wisdom, and so we shut ourselves off from any further Biblical knowledge that was not included in our denominational packet. A wise man once said that it is when we are frail and old, it is when we are at death’s door that we realize just how little we knew in comparison to what there was to know. We must never stop learning, we must never stop growing, we must never stop searching the scriptures, and we must never think ourselves above being taught. I’ve been taught powerful truths through the mouths of babes and laymen alike. I don’t know it all, but I strive to grow in knowledge, and am humble enough to learn from my fellow brothers and sisters alike.

The second thing we must do in order to combat ignorance, is know the Word of God. When I speak of knowing the Word of God, it is not by way of second hand information, but personally knowing the Word of God.

Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.”

This was David’s firsthand experience in regards to the Word of God. He did not say ‘your word is a lamp unto the feet of my pastor, and I follow in his footsteps’ but rather, the word of God was a lamp unto his feet, a light to his path, something personal and intimate.

Know the word of God and you will be able to resist temptation, you will be able to spot deception, and you will be able to combat ignorance. Knowledge is the death of ignorance, and the knowledge of the word of God will bring untold benefits to our lives if we remain diligent in it. The knowledge of God’s word is not reserved for theologians and preachers, all of God’s children must know His word, because His word contains His will, His promises, His grace, His mercy, and His righteousness.

The third thing we must do in order to combat ignorance, is apply the word of God. Head knowledge of God’s word is useless if it is not properly applied. In the aforementioned study it turned out that atheists were the least ignorant of all when it came to religion yet their knowledge did nothing to save them from the darkness and despair in which they find themselves because they never applied it. Knowing the word of God is only half the recipe, and without the ingredient of applying what we know to our daily lives it remains static and unsatisfying.

It is of utmost importance that we know what we have in God, that we know what we posses in Christ, because in knowing what we have become in Him we have the necessary boldness and courage to do great and mighty works for the glory of the Father.

As Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, they ran across a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb. Seeing as Peter and John were about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms, and it is in Peter’s answer to this lame man that we see what the knowledge of what we posses in Christ does.

Acts 2:6-8, “Then Peter said, ‘silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them, - walking, leaping, and praising God.”

Peter knew what he didn’t have, but also what he had. He knew he had no silver, he knew he had no gold, but he knew that he did have the power of God. Peter didn’t say ‘what I think I have, or what I hope I have’ but rather ‘what I do have I give you’.

We must be certain of what we have in Christ, both the power and the authority that we have in Him, and the more we grow in knowledge, the more we grow in understanding, the more we humble ourselves and become teachable, the more we study the Word, and the more we apply it to our daily lives, the more we will see the death of ignorance, and the birth of power in our daily lives.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.