Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Death By A Thousand Compromises

The church is dying. For long and long it has been on life support but even with the artificial devices pumping air into its lungs, it is beginning to look and smell like the ambulatory corpse it has become. You can’t hide decomposition for too long. You can spray paint it, coat it in makeup, pour gallons of perfume one it, but there will always be that lingering smell of something not quite right, not quite healthy, and not quite living.

We talked ourselves into believing compromise was a viable option and that is where we stepped off the path. The more compromises we allowed in our lives, in our families, in our churches and in our pulpits the more the world seemed to love us and embrace us and fawn over us. We reveled in the world’s fawning. We reveled in the world’s acceptance, disinterested and indifferent as to whether or not God was likewise accepting of us.

We preferred the world over the God we purported to serve, and that was mistake number two.

The third mistake we made, a mistake which came on the heels of the first and second, is believing that once compromise with sin and the world began it could somehow be stopped.

We believed the lies of men when they assured us compromise was like a controlled burn rather than the raging wildfire it is. Some saw the train wreck coming. They tried to pump the breaks and sound the alarm, but it was already too late, and the train and its passengers continued to barrel toward the inevitable.

I hear the words of respected and even revered men in our day and age and I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. The thought that we can dictate terms to God and have Him bend His will to suit our own seems to have enveloped young and old alike, from every denomination, and every corner of the earth. We think that if we throw a big enough tantrum, if we throw a big enough hissy fit, then God will go back on His word and no longer call sin what it is.

It is our compromises that have weakened us. It is our compromises that have brought us to the edge of the abyss, because with every compromise we made we took yet another step farther from truth and the will of God.

One can either journey toward the light or the darkness. One can either choose life or choose death. One can either submit to the authority and will of God in all things or cherry pick the things they like and fashion for themselves an idol they call their god. Since such individuals are the creators of their own god, they can and oftentimes do decide what their god is perfectly fine with, and what their god finds offensive, sinful or abominable.

Because of our fallen state, because of the compromise coursing through our veins, because it has been so long since we’ve contemplated the very notion of obedience and submission that we’ve forgotten what they mean, we comfort each other with the illusion that if enough of us deem something as lawful and just God will have no choice but to acquiesce.

God will not be bullied, pressured, or harassed into changing His will, especially when that which is asked of Him contradicts His very nature, a nature rooted in holiness and righteousness.

It isn’t one large wound that is become the death of us, it is a thousand little ones. A thousand little compromises causing us to bleed out and grow anemic, and wandering about in a daze asking ourselves where it all went wrong.

The sifting is upon us. Soon, sooner than some would like to believe, brother will turn against brother, mother against daughter, and father against son, because the Word of God has a way of coming to pass when we least expect it.

The shaking must come, the separation must take place, because the tares are choking out the wheat, and soon there will be no life left to speak of. One thing few realize is that the wheat and the tares were growing in the same field, side by side, in the same soil.

It’s not the world that’s choking off the church, it is the pretend Christians within the church, the compromised, duplicitous, hypocritical, self-serving souls paying God lip service who are choking off the true believers at the great glee and merriment of the world and the devil alike.  

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 16

When we pursue and attain godliness we are in a constant state of obedience. With the attainment of godliness man realizes God not only demands reverence, obedience and submission He is worthy of these things in perpetuity.

Unlike man, God does not demand that which He does not deserve or is entitled to. I’ve met men who insisted on being called by their title even though their title was only honorary. I have likewise met men who expected you to have a sense of awe upon meeting them just because in their minds they were of greater stature than they truly were.

When God demands a thing of us it is because He is worthy of it, entitled to it, and deserving of it.

After the building block of godliness is placed upon our spiritual foundation, aiding to build our spiritual home, Peter encourages us to add to godliness brotherly kindness.

The Greek word for brotherly kindness, or literally translated ‘love of brothers’ is Philadelphia.

Since nothing is accidental or gratuitous in God’s Word, as I was outlining this teaching I couldn’t help but make the connection between Philadelphia, the Greek word for brotherly love, and the fact that the church at Philadelphia was one of two to not receive any rebuke among the seven churches of Revelation.

Could there be a connection between possessing brotherly kindness and being in the will of God? Could we go one step further and say that without brotherly kindness, without love for the brethren we cannot truly know God?

Yes, I realize this seems like a bold claim, but as long as we allow the Word to have the final word, we will see that it’s not such a bold claim after all.

1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

1 John 4:20-21, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

There are surprising amounts of excuses we can come up with as individuals for not loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. What so many fail to see or realize is that if they are born again, redeemed, and sanctified, that person we are trying to avoid because we don’t like the way they dress, the way they speak, the cologne they wear, or their penchant for ornate headwear, is no longer a strange individual but a member of the body of Christ. What we are in fact doing when we hate a brother or sister in Christ for some arbitrary reason or some perceived slight is hating a member of Christ’s body. This is the reason a man cannot love God and hate his brother, because one cannot love and hate a person or a thing simultaneously.

When I claim to love God but hate my brother, all I am doing is speaking a lie, giving God lip service, because my heart is divided, and I am unwilling to lay aside my personal feelings or my personal opinions for the benefit of the body of Christ.

‘But what if I think they are wrong?’

Well, then approach them Biblically, and make sure they are wrong not because you say so, or because you deem it to be so, but because they Bible contradicts their claims or assertions.

We cannot take a personal preference and spin it into gospel. We cannot take a personal conviction and make doctrine of it for everyone to follow on pain of death.

It is because we think ourselves Pharisees reborn that there is so much confusion within the household of faith, and why so many are struggling with new and burdensome rules and regulations placed upon them by others within the congregation even though the Bible makes no mention of such things.

Since Pharisees will persist in attempting to exact control over others, one new regulation leads to ten, until those struggling under the weight of it all begin to grow bitter toward God, the brethren, and the household of faith alike. What was once love and a sincere desire to serve God and the family of God turns into a simmering hatred all because self-appointed busybodies decided to assert their imaginary authority rather than be content with being a member of the body of Christ.

If I truly love my brother I will not attempt to make him struggle or suffer unnecessarily. If I truly love my brother I will not lay upon him such weight that it crushes him into the dirt. If I truly love my brother I will not kick him when he stumbles, I will not mock him when he weeps, I will not feel superior to him when he is struggling, but I will be there doing my utmost to reach out, to raise up, to help, to aid in moving forward, because if one member of a body is hurting, the whole body should be hurting, and doing its utmost to heal that broken member, that hurting part for the wellbeing of the whole.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What God Hates Part 8

Part 8 is up on YouTube, and since I've been doing it since the beginning of this series, I will post a link to it for those who have been watching it. God bless.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

What God Hates Part 8

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 15

Contrary to popular belief godliness does not mean to be ‘godlike,’ but rather, godliness in its most basic definition is to worship well, to be very devout, or to have great reverence for God.

When Peter encourages us to be godly, he is by no means encouraging us to strive to be like God, but rather to revere Him, and worship Him well, and be devout in our relationship toward Him.

We have steadily lost our reverence for God as a generation, and we can see the outcome of bringing God down to our level, or raising ourselves up to His.

When man loses reverence for God, when men no longer see God as God but as someone they can manipulate, cajole, and talk into seeing things their way, obedience is no longer implied, nor is it practiced.

In our day and age God no longer has a will and a standard. God can no longer say what He embraces and rejects, what He loves and what He abhors, what He enjoys and what He hates. It is men who have taken it upon themselves to dictate terms and tell God what He can and cannot love, what He can and cannot accept, because the godliness of which Peter speaks is utterly lacking, and men only speak of God when the situation necessitates it.

We have become our own de facto gods and we like it that way!

We have taken it upon ourselves to revere ourselves, to worship ourselves, to follow the urgings of our own hearts rather than the commandments of almighty God, all the while being told by those who claimed to be His representatives here on earth that this was His ultimate will for our lives.

Godliness begets obedience. Godliness begets submission. Godliness begets the crucifying of one’s desires, one’s aspirations, one’s wants, and the following after the Christ with all diligence and enthusiasm.

A godly individual will always inquire what God’s will is in any given matter rather than assume that God’s will is automatically in line with their own, and so if they will or desire a thing, God must will and desire the selfsame thing.

We have made a doctrine out of doing what is right in our own eyes, utterly dismissing the fact that by doing what is right in our own eyes we are headed toward death.

Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Godliness compels us to be dependent upon God, and seek to know His ways. Godliness compels us to acknowledge our own limitations, or own shortcomings, our ignorance of certain things, and humbly seek to know the way of God, for only His way leads to life.

When godliness is not one of the building blocks making up our spiritual house, we will be ever confident in our foolishness and folly but confidence notwithstanding it is still foolishness and folly.

Because reverence for God has diminished within the church, presumption in regards to the will of God on men’s part has as a direct result bloomed and blossomed into a hideous mass of voices each protecting their pet doctrine, denomination, proclivity, or pet vice they are unwilling to part with.

In order to realize just how engrained this de facto god mentality is within the church, or just how absent godliness is from among those calling themselves the children of God, all you have to do is Biblically point out the incongruity between their deeply held beliefs and God’s holy Word.

It is then that you will see the true hearts of men; it is then that you will see the utter lack of godliness or desire for true worship, because they will tell you and pointedly so in a hundred different ways why the Word is wrong and by relation God is wrong and why they are right.

The root of rebellion, disobedience, and disregard for the will of God is absence of godliness on the part of professing believers. If godliness were an ever present ideal, if it was visible within the construct of our spiritual home, then we would walk humbly and obediently upon the narrow path which God has laid out without attempting to widen it, circumvent it, or find a shortcut to our final destination.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 14

Because there always seem to be negative connotations to the notions of persecution, tribulation, or trials, it is quite easy to make the intellectual leap and begin disseminating the false notion that persecution or tribulation in all their varied forms are no longer for the children of God, and they will never have to endure such things.

Granted, the only places in the world one can still make such claims are America, and perhaps a handful of other countries which as yet are not seeing persecution, but for the rest of the world, those suffering and bleeding and dying for the cause of Christ, such claims are downright ludicrous.

Christians today are being imprisoned, tortured, beheaded, and set on fire because they will not deny their Lord and King, yet some pampered, over-compensated, and woefully incompetent self-titled shepherds of God’s flock continue to insist that if you are called upon to endure the loss of all things it is because you did not have enough faith to hold on to the things you lost.

It is troubling that so few believers see the glory in trials, and the exaltation of tribulation. It is not in the trials or tribulations that we glory, but in the hand of our God and Father evident in the midst of them all.

Whether the flesh likes it, or bristles against the notion, we must prepare for the eventuality of having to endure for the cause of Christ, and yes, even suffer the loss of all things.

If all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution, then the only way for us to circumvent persecution will be to no longer desire to live godly in Him.

If our desire continues to be godliness in Christ, then preparing for eventual persecution is a given, a must, and not just an option or something we can put off until it is too late.

If we’ve added perseverance to our spiritual house, we are well on our way to preparing for hardship, knowing that if we possess perseverance we will endure to the end as we are called to do.

2 Peter 1:5-7, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

With each virtue we lay atop another, we begin to see our spiritual house take shape. We begin to see the details and can readily imagine what it will look like when it is all done, and it is a wondrous thing to behold.

Far too many individuals get caught up on where they are now, rather than where they will be when their journey is finished, and when the Great Builder has finished his construct.

Where I live in Romania there are many homes in various stages of completion. Like every other nation in the world Romania too has seen an economic downturn, and so some of these homes have been in this selfsame state for years and years. People just ran out of money, or energy, or both, and abandoned the building of their home leaving it to the snow and the rain and the brambles that in time will overtake their territory once more.

When we stop building our spiritual house, it stops being built. No one can build it for us, no one can come and start laying the bricks and mortar of our spiritual home on our behalf, we must put in the effort, we must put in the time, and we must have the single-minded focus to complete that which has been started, trusting the plans of the Architect and following His guidelines to the letter.

We are called upon to give all diligence. We are called upon to add to faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control and so on, and we must continue to add until it is finished, until it is complete, and until it is habitable.

Some people give up halfway through the building process. They start out excited and with great hopes, but then the labor of it all, the stress of it all, the self-denial of it all starts getting to them, and they abandon their project. What happens when a spiritual house is abandoned halfway through is that the weeds and brambles and thistles that once grew there return, not all at once but a little every day, until what you have is half a wall covered over with weeds.

It is neither as it was nor as it ought to be, an unnatural mixture and amalgam of the sacred and the profane.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 13

It’s one thing to possess faith, virtue, knowledge, and self-control intermittently, it’s quite another to possess these things as well as all the others Peter outlines continually. Not only are we to have faith and virtue and knowledge and self-control, we are to likewise have perseverance. Perseverance in and of itself is not a virtue because one can persevere in evil things just as they can persevere in righteous ones.

Perseverance acquires its nobility due to the thing the individual is persevering in.

If I persevere in self-control, if I persevere in knowledge, or virtue, or faith, then it is because of those things I am persevering in that my perseverance is a good thing.

We don’t persevere just for the sake of persevering. We choose, and wisely so, those things we persevere in so that our spiritual man might be that much stronger and that much more mature due to our perseverance.

Perseverance can be defined in one of two ways. First, perseverance can be defined as steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, and second, as a continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.

It is in whether or not we persevere that oftentimes determines our success or failure in any given endeavor.

Being on the huskier side ever since I was a wee lad, I’ve started my fair share of diets. Seeing as I did not persevere in the diets I started, well, I’m still a bit on the huskier side. If I had persevered, if I’d stuck to it and with dogged tenacity somehow talked myself into believing that alfalfa sprouts and asparagus tasted like chocolate cake, then I would have succeeded in the attempt at a smaller version of myself.

When we persevere in virtue, when we persevere in knowledge, and self-control, we do so even when we don’t really want to, or when it becomes very difficult for us to do so. It’s when something is difficult that the notion of perseverance comes to bear all the more.

If there is continuity in our virtues and in our exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit, then we are persevering in them.

As with every virtue Peter admonishes us to possess, perseverance has its place as well as its benefits for us as believers.

Romans 5:3-4, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

It is perseverance that produces character in us as followers of Christ, and it is the character that is produced in us – the character of Christ – that gives way to hope. A hope which does not disappoint, because throughout this magnificent journey of growth and maturity we have come to know the vastness of God’s love for us, and as such rest in the knowledge that He will see us through our desert, He will see us through our valley, He will see us through our heartache, He will see us through our pain, He will see us through our loss, and carry us into the land of promise on that great and glorious day.

Those who have never persevered and as such never developed their Christ like character can never know the fullness of the hope that animates and drives those who have. We can speak of it to others, exhibit it and manifest it, but to them it will always be something alien, something strange, something slightly offbeat, because they themselves have never gone through the requisite stages of maturity wherein they come to this blessed place of inexhaustible hope even in the face of indescribable loss.

Why do those who have gone through tribulation, through suffering, through hardships and persecutions seem to have a stronger faith than those who have not? Those who have endured not only seem to have a stronger faith but in fact do have a stronger faith because in their tribulations and hardships they persevered, and this perseverance produced a character commensurate with God’s guidelines.

In our modern age we have learned to look upon tribulation and persecution in a disparaging fashion, to reject them wholly and do everything in our power to avoid them rather than persevere through them, not realizing that even in tribulation there is good, even in hardship there is growth, and even in persecution the will of God for our lives is being made manifest in great and wondrous ways.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What God Hates Part 7

This is part seven of the ten part series on what God hates, and since it's already been posted to YouTube I thought I'd share it.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

What God Hates Part 7

Monday, July 15, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 12

After having added knowledge to our virtue, Peter admonishes us to likewise add self-control to our spiritual house, and with each building block we begin to see the edifice take shape before our eyes.

The reason each of these virtues is important in and of themselves but likewise important as an amalgam is because when one is lacking, the spiritual house is incomplete, or at best has a weakness which the enemy will eventually discover and exploit to his advantage.

When we are complete believers, when we possess all the spiritual fruit the Word of God admonishes us to possess, as well as all the virtues one such as Peter admonishes us to have, the enemy has nothing to exploit because there is no chink in our armor, and no weak point in our spiritual home.

It is only when we lack one or more of these virtues, and when the fruit of the Spirit are not readily manifesting in our lives that the enemy has a foothold which he can chip away at until it becomes something detrimental to our walk.

We face a patient enemy. One who takes his time, one who has a long term strategy, and one who is content with gaining an inch if he can’t gain a yard.

1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”

In understanding Peter’s history, we understand just how well he understood the need to be sober and vigilant at all times, because he’d been through it, he’d let his guard down, and as consequence denied the Christ due to fear of man.

Peter knew the only way to overcome the enemy is to always be aware of his insatiable hatred for the followers of Christ, not underestimating him, but rather remaining steadfast in the faith though trials and hardships may abound.

So what can be said of self-control?

First, that the accent must be placed on the word self! Although we live amidst a generation which is daily attempting to mitigate the notion of personal, individual responsibility, wherein no matter what one does it wasn’t their fault but that of  a third party or a traumatic childhood episode, the Word of God tells us we must possess self-control.

If one cannot control one’s self, whether their actions, their words, or their outbursts, the enemy will always have a niche to exploit given the right circumstances.

In that we must possess self-control we also see its interconnectedness with virtue, the first of Peter’s building blocks, for in order to possess virtue, one must likewise possess self-control.

Throughout the ages some have said that coming to believe in Christ makes you incapable of sin. If this were the case, then we would not need self-control as Peter tells us we do.

There are certain doctrines making their way through the church that I wish were true. Yes, you read that correctly, there are certain doctrines in the church today that I wish were true.

Unfortunately, just because a doctrine makes the path a bit wider and my walk less strenuous, it does not likewise make it Biblical or orthodox. We cannot choose to believe a certain thing simply because it seems reasonable to human intellect, or because it requires less effort on our part. The only plumb line is the Word of God, and no matter how good a teaching might sound, if it is not likewise found within the pages of Scripture, it must be rejected.

Too often we disregard and ignore Scripture in lieu of the teachings of men because the teachings of men make the Christian journey seem like a traipse through the rose petals on our way to mansions in the sky.

Men want to abdicate the notion of personal responsibility altogether, because it will unfetter them to pursue the desires of their hearts with abandon. If I am not responsible for the things I do, if I will not be held to account, if I will not have to answer, then I can do as the flesh wills without the restriction of self-control.

Sin has reached a fevered pitch within the church because we no longer teach self-control, personal accountability, or individual responsibility.

Yes, it is far easier to tell someone that all they have to do is raise a hand, and all their sins, past, present, and future are forgiven, than it is to tell them that they must repent and turn away from their sinful life, possess self-control, and deny themselves daily. Try as we might to twist the meaning, easy doesn’t mean right and it never will.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 11

The man who despises knowledge is a fool, and the man who despises the knowledge of Christ is the greatest of fools. Ignorance has cost many a soul their lives, and has been the cause of untold suffering.

Although there are myriad reasons why the knowledge of Christ is superior to the knowledge of anyone or anything else in the universe, there are three in particular I want to discuss today because they are encouraging, emboldening, and sustaining.

When I speak of the knowledge of Christ, I do not speak of it as some dry, dusty thing, or the knowledge of a philosophy, but the knowledge of the person of Christ in all His majesty and divinity.

The knowledge of a person will always be superior to the knowledge of a thing, a set of rules, or a philosophy. The Word of God calls us to have a relationship with the person of Jesus, and not the philosophy of Jesus, or the teachings of Jesus.

It is in knowing the person that we come to realize the pricelessness of His teachings, and His philosophy, and the unequaled promise He made to those who would deny themselves, pick up their crosses and follow after Him.

It is by far a better thing to know a good person than to know a historical fact, or an event. Friendship and the knowledge of another individual is one of the greatest and most precious gifts God has given to man. Friendship and the knowledge of His Son Jesus, and what the knowledge of Him entails in regards to our eternity, is by far the single-most greatest gift God has ever bestowed upon mankind.

The knowledge of Christ is a saving knowledge. Once we gain Christ and are found in Him, we are plucked from the darkness and despair of sin and death and translated into the kingdom of He who has gone to prepare a place for us.

We cannot be content with merely knowing of Christ but must strive wholeheartedly to know Him.

Many individuals today know of Christ. They hear sermons, sing songs, and read books about Him, thinking this sufficient. It is not.

We must endeavor to know Christ, for only the personal knowledge of Him will lay the foundation for a relationship with Him.

Whether you know of someone or personally know someone makes all the difference in the world. I’m sure you know of singers or artists or actors or athletes, but so do millions of other individuals. Those who know them, spend time with them, and have a friendship with them are surely far fewer than those who know of them.

The same can be said of Christ. Countless individuals know of Him, but far fewer truly know Him.

The knowledge of Christ also sustains us and keeps us when all else has fallen by the wayside and has utterly failed us. When all other knowledge has been done away with, become outdated, or irrelevant, the knowledge of Christ remains true and pure and ever a necessity in our daily lives.

For many the knowledge of Christ is an appealing endeavor until they are made aware of the caveat. We cannot have a true knowledge of Christ until we count all other things as loss, as rubbish, as readily forfeited for the excellence of the knowledge of Him.

Though to this day men teach we can have Christ and the world simultaneously, Jesus taught otherwise, insisting upon the foundational truth that the human heart is only big enough for one.

Whether that one is Jesus or the world and the things thereof is a choice we must make on an individual level.

Jesus did not shy away from encouraging individuals to read the fine print. He did not shy away from insisting upon the fact that those who desired to follow after Him must first know the cost of discipleship, weigh the cost of discipleship, and decide of their own volition of they were willing to part with everything else for the sake of gaining Him.

Jesus wasn’t pitching anyone. Unlike the modern day preachers roaming late-night television, Jesus presented a balanced Gospel to those who would hear, telling them not only of the great promises of God if they chose obedience but also of the things they would have to part with and surrender in order to attain those great and wondrous promises.  

Peter knew that the knowledge of Christ and the desire for more of this knowledge were indispensable ingredients when it came to building a strong and lasting spiritual house. He knew, whether instinctually or from personal experience, that absent the knowledge of Jesus in all His majesty, we would never mature to the point of possessing self-control, perseverance, godliness and all the other building blocks we are admonished to add throughout our journey here on earth.

Hence the reason he began with virtue, then went on to knowledge.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 10

Philippians 3:8-9, “But indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

If the old adage holds true and knowledge is indeed power, than the knowledge of Christ Jesus is the essence of power. No, we do not serve or seek to know Christ because we desire power, but it is a nice added bonus for those who devote themselves to this greatest of all knowledge.

For a homeless man with no future prospects and little potential having suffered the loss of all things might not seem like much of a sacrifice. For one such as Paul who had been groomed from early youth to be a Pharisee, a man wise in letters, languages, and critical thought, a man who was able to stand before the brightest minds of his time and contend for his position, what he lost was not small or insignificant in any way.

Great as his loss was, he counted all he had lost as so much rubbish when compared to the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.

Before we continue discussing knowledge, certain questions beg to be asked, questions we ought to ask ourselves as individuals with sincerity of heart.

Is our desire to know Christ as bright, burning, and all-consuming as Paul’s was? Are we willing to count the loss of other things in lieu of gaining Christ as rubbish when it occurs? Are we even willing to part with the temporal things for the eternal ones God promises us?

Far too many individuals begin their spiritual journey with the idea that if serving Jesus doesn’t work out, they have a safety net of some sort to fall back on. For some it’s their entourage, whom they have not wholly alienated by being fierce contenders for the faith but simply saw less frequently, for others it is their position in society or some sort of title they hold dear, but to the last, everyone who still clings to the notion of a safety net is not wholly committed to the pursuit of Christ.

The excellence of the knowledge of Christ compels us to pursue Him with abandon. It compels us to gladly suffer the loss of all things, even if those things might include friends, family, loved ones, positions, or possessions.

It is in teaching that we can have the best of both worlds, that we can pursue Christ and the things of the world in equal measure, and somehow keep both parties content, that the modern day preachers have strayed from the path and pierced themselves and those who followed after them through with many sorrows.

Christ is deserving of being singularly pursued!

If I am in a race striving for the prize, I don’t stop and window shop on the way, I don’t take a break for a snack midway through the race, I don’t get distracted by the other marathoners whose intent is as mine, to win the race, I focus, and with total commitment and desire to win I run toward the finish line as swiftly as my feet will take me.

The half-measure gospel has ruined many lives, and those lives it has not ruined have been left utterly powerless because in only devoting half of their hearts and being unwilling to suffer the loss of all things, such individuals never attained the knowledge nor gained Christ as they ought.

There is a fierceness in the single-minded pursuit of a goal that cannot be mimicked, copied, or synthesized by those not possessing the selfsame single mindedness.

Another way of explaining what I’m trying to say is that there are those who play at being athletes or soldiers, and then there are those who are athletes and soldiers. The difference is in their daily routine, their commitment, and their focus when it comes to everything in their lives.

Going to the gym once a week does not a professional athlete make, just as going to church once a week does not a Disciple of Christ make.

From the moment they wake to the moment they go back to sleep the life of a professional athlete as well as the life of a soldier is regimented, disciplined, and well planned out, because his singular desire is to be the best at his chosen profession and excel in every way possible.

If our drive, hunger, and desire for the knowledge of Christ does not equal that of an athlete or a soldier in its intensity, then we will always find reasons for not pressing in, not spending more time at the foot of the cross, and not striving for the greater things of God in our lives, all the while pacifying our burdened consciences with the thought that everyone else is in the same rut, feigning the same worship, and pretending at spirituality in like manner.

We do not desire the knowledge of Christ Jesus because our neighbor is, or our spouse is, or parents are. We are not competing against other individuals for the attainment of this knowledge, but rather against ourselves.

I strive for the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord because I love Him, and I know that the knowledge of Him is superior to any knowledge the world has to offer.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, July 8, 2013

What God Hates Part 6

This is part six of the series on what God hates. Since it's been uploaded I thought I'd pass it along.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

What God Hates Part 6

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Though He Loves You

Although all of Scripture is divinely inspired, there are certain passages that stay with you longer than others. I would venture to say far more people have memorized and have been impacted by John 3:16 than 1 Chronicles 1:5 and that is because certain verses just have a special kind of gravitas.

Certain verses just mark you. You return to them time and again, you read them over and over, you even memorize them, systematically dissect them, do word studies, and the deeper you go the deeper you want to go in that passage, verse, or even sentence.

Although I’ve preached on the rich young ruler often enough, and have pointed out what amounts to an astounding truth in my opinion, I keep returning to this passage, humbled by the knowledge that though Jesus beheld the young man and loved him, He let him walk away.

When discussing this particular event most people tend to focus on the difficulty of those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God. It was after all the young ruler’s inability to part with his material possessions that compelled him to walk away from Christ, but there is a deeper meaning in this passage that most either ignore or choose not to see.

Mark 10:19-22, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.’ Then Jesus looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.”

I’ve heard it said by men who ought to know better that Jesus was just trying to make a point. They say that Jesus was just trying to show us how impossible it is to work our way into heaven, but if this was the case Jesus picked a really inopportune moment for an object lesson.

Although it would make us feel better about our duplicity and compromise to conclude that Jesus chased the young man down and explained that He was just trying to make a point, there is no hint of this anywhere in the Bible.

As the young man was grieved and went away, the Bible does not say that Peter chased him down and said, ‘Jesus was just joshing’ but rather the young man was allowed to leave, to remove himself from before the presence of Christ, having chosen his possessions over the cross.

If in fact this was just a lesson, then Jesus was downright mean with this young man.

The young man had come seeking to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. In that Jesus loved him, we intuit his sincerity, for Jesus would not love one with an insincere heart. The young man took the time to track Jesus down, to come before Him, and sincerely ask what he must do, and upon receiving the answer he came to the conclusion that he was not willing to pay the price.

Far too many today believe that God loves us too much as individuals and as a nation to let us go, even though we squirm against his embrace and do everything we can to distance ourselves from the warmth of His love. They believe that in His love God will either force us into a relationship with Him, or overlook our willful sin in order to continue having a relationship with us.

First, God will not compromise His righteousness for anything or anyone. He did not compromise His righteousness when He saw His only begotten Son hanging on a cross, and He certainly won’t compromise it for you or me because we refuse to surrender our all to Him.

Second, in His eternal wisdom God already knows there is no such thing as a forced relationship, and as such He won’t even attempt it.

With us as individuals as well as this nation, though God loves us, and loves us dearly, He will allow us to walk away if we so choose, just as He allowed the rich young ruler to depart though He loved him.

Sooner or later we all come to learn that God does not make concession for anyone. Either we obey, submit, surrender and follow, or we will find ourselves outside with the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and all who love and practice falsehood.

We choose the cross or the world, righteousness or lawlessness, light or darkness.

If you can muster the requisite joy, happy 4th of July!

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Into the Deep

When man loses the ability to blush he has lost the ability to be shamed. When man not only loses the ability to be shamed but revels in the lawlessness to which he has surrendered his heart, darkness has attained permanence.

I don’t know about you but nothing really shocks me anymore. It’s sort of sad. I lament this inability to be stunned because the reality of its absence compels me to acknowledge I no longer possess the innocence I once did.

The world we live in and the utter abandon with which the godless chase after their own destruction has jaded us even if we refuse to acknowledge it to ourselves. Things which would have shocked us to wakefulness no less than a dozen years ago don’t even manage to get a shoulder shrug today, most having given in to the constant flow dragging them further into the deep.

It is with sad resignation that we stand witness to the inevitability of where this nation is headed, and the judgment which will soon be poured out as consequence of its rebellion. Even those who once laughed and rolled their eyes saying ‘it’s not that bad and it’s never going to get that bad’ now realize God’s judgment is justified in all its depth and ferocity. It is justified!

No rational, thinking human being still in possession of a moral compass can honestly say God is not justified in His judgment any longer.

As far as the church is concerned, well, I for one believe the moment the church stopped preaching righteousness and holiness, the moment the church stopped preaching Christ and the cross, the moment the church started preaching excess and prosperity and foolish, childish doctrines that have no root within God’s holy Word, it lost its moral authority in regards to anything happening around it.

There can be no selective outrage when it comes to sin, rebellion, and compromise. Either you hate and despise all sin with equal measure, either you hate and despise all rebellion and compromise with equal measure, or you are a hypocrite who coddles his pet vice but judges others for coddling theirs. This is why the preaching of righteousness is necessary in every church and every service without fail!

The fuse has been lit and the world is about to boil over in unprecedented turmoil. The cup is full, and God’s judgment is about to descend like a thunderclap on an unsuspecting church, and the best way I can describe what is about to happen is that what we call the church today will be gutted from the inside, and everything causing harm to the true Body will be done away with as it ought.

It must be thus, for only when what is impure has been cast asunder can what remains stand unmoved in the face of the enemies of the Cross as they become more vocal, more boisterous, and eventually violent to the point of bloodshed.

Darkness will not be content until light is no more. Putrefaction will not be content until the salt has lost its flavor completely, overpowering it until it becomes unrecognizable.

The endgame of the godless is the utter ruin and annihilation of the godly, and because we’ve fallen asleep, because we got distracted by the things of the world, because we compromised those things which ought never to have been compromised, inch by inch, foot by foot, evil has gained ground, and advanced steadily.

This is where we are now. Where we will be in a little while will make where we are now seem like a longed for and pleasant ideal. The more naïve among us will continue to wait for the pendulum to swing back toward the center, but the pendulum is broken. It will not swing back toward any semblance of morality.

So what are we to do? Do we go along to get along? Do we jump on the bandwagon of trying to justify the most obscene of perversions as somehow being God’s intent all along?

Do we become as those vile ones who in search of profit sell out the God they purport to serve?

No, we do none of these things. We do what the Word of God has commanded us to do. We gird up the loins of our mind, we continue to be sober, and we hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

It will not be an easy time nor will it be a time absent casualties, but those who have purposed in their hearts not to defile themselves will see the glory of God manifest in their lives in ways heretofore unseen.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.