Monday, June 30, 2014

Do We Greatly Rejoice?

Hope is not a sedative. Hope ought not to have a calming effect, soothing our jangled nerves, and making us feel more at ease with what is about to transpire. Hope is more like an adrenaline shot straight to the heart, stirring us to action, to movement, animating us, and causing us to do what we ought to have been doing in the first place which is to be about our Father’s business.

As Peter writes to the pilgrims of the dispersion, those who had fled to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, he does not pull any punches, nor does he try to whitewash what the future held for the true believers and for the body of Christ in general.

Peter does not go into a long drawn out soliloquy as to how self-esteem will carry the day, or how they will never see a moment of heartache, feel an iota of pain, or be distressed in any way.

I despise cowardice, and cannot stand the tongue twists some ‘ministers of the gospel’ feel the need to put themselves through thinking that they are softening the blow for the children of God, or making them feel more hopeful about a bleak and turbulent future.

The knowledge that our  inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, does not fade away, and is reserved in heaven for us, ought to be all the impetus we need to greatly rejoice no matter the difficulties we might be facing, or the persecutions we might have to endure.

Even after all my years in ministry it still stuns me that some individuals need something extra in order to greatly rejoice, whether the extra is something of the monetary persuasion, a possession their heart lusts after, or a juicy position they’ve had their eye on for some time.

Nothing of this earth, nothing we may possess, acquire or receive having to do with this mortal plain can compare with the reward which awaits us in heaven, and nothing of this earth ought to compel us to greatly rejoice as should the knowledge of this standalone truth.

It’s as though Peter was saying ‘yes, I know times are hard, and they’re going to get harder, but no matter what distresses, no matter what grievances, no matter what trials, your default position ought always to be that of greatly rejoicing because of the inheritance that has been reserved in heaven for you.’

We’re not just supposed to muddle through. We’re not just supposed to grit our teeth and bear it. We’re not just supposed to shut our eyes and hope for the hardship to pass. We are supposed to greatly rejoice because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is a crown at the finish line, there is a reward waiting for the faithful once their race is run.

1 Peter 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

The only way we will be able to greatly rejoice though now we have been grieved by various trials, is to know our identity, know who we are, and stand on the foundation of this truth unshaken and undeterred.

Peter had no qualms about who he was, or who those he was writing to were. He did not specify a denomination, a man, or a fellowship, he simply wrote to the elect of God the Father, those sanctified of the Spirit, and sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ.

It is in knowing who we are, it is in knowing our identity, it is in knowing who we belong to and who has sanctified us, that we can stand strong, and bold, and true, because the knowledge of who we are cements the knowledge of the reality of the reward that is waiting for us, kept by the power of God through faith for salvation, and ready to be revealed in the last time.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Strangers In A Strange Land

I believe we are meant to feel out of place here. I believe we are meant to feel off kilter and like we don’t quite belong no matter where we might be on earth, because this is a temporary respite on our way to eternity. We are passing through on our way home, and if we’ve grown comfortable here, if we’ve come to the point of feeling as though we belong, then I think something is amiss.

I didn’t grow up with what one might call permanence to begin with, but each morning I wake up I seem to recognize this world and relate to it less and less. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t belong here. I have to keep reminding myself that I am a traveler, a stranger in a strange land, passing through, trying to make my way to the other side and doing my utmost to point the way to the One toward which we ought all to endeavor to draw near.

We are all renters, and no one’s an owner. Nobody in their right mind invests their money in a property they are renting, because they know at any moment the owner can come and evict them, kick them out into the street and bar them from ever setting foot again.

For being renters we sure do invest a lot in someone else’s property. For being renters we sure do get attached to someone else’s possessions and invest our time and resources in something that has no permanence for us.

We are pilgrims, and wanderers. We are men of women of different nationalities, different ethnicities, different levels of education, and even different habits, but united in Christ, and made citizens of the heavenly kingdom through Him and in Him.

As Peter encourages those who were dispersed throughout, I wish to likewise encourage you today, and remind you that you are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. You are begotten to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away. This inheritance is reserved in heaven for you, kept safe and secure by none other than He who created all that is seen and unseen.

It is of no consequence that we feel like strangers here for a time. It is of no consequence that we might be called upon to suffer for the sake of Christ, or even lay down our lives for Him, because our incorruptible and undefiled inheritance, an inheritance that does not fade away, is waiting for us.

I know many of you are feeling as out of place as I am, and although I wish I can tell you different, these feelings will only continue to grow as we stand firm in the light of truth and the world descends deeper into the darkness of sin.

In between watching my wife feed our baby girl, and changing diapers I’ve been jotting down some notes from the book of 1 Peter, and time permitting and Lord willing I will begin sharing them with you, as I believe it is a very timely epistle for those of us who feel displaced, or out of place.

Just thought I’d share these thoughts. Hope they make sense as I’m running on fumes. I guess babies get fussy after they turn two weeks old. Oh yeah, we made it through the first two weeks. Fourteen days have come and gone, and baby still has all her fingers and toes, and smiles contentedly more than she frowns.

It is said that if you can get past the first fourteen days, it’s all a breeze and a blur from there. If this is a lie, and you know that it is, please leave me to my blissful ignorance as it is a fine straw I am grasping at.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Sincere Thank You

Once my body gets used to sleep deprivation, I will get around to writing proper thank you notes, but for now, I just wanted to say thank you to Mike and Nancy for your thoughtful gift, and to let you know you are in my prayers.
Also, thank you to Kathy. I've learned, and quickly so, you can never have enough diapers, or swaddle blankets.
Last but not least, thank you to all of you for the kind words and warm well wishes. May God bless and keep you.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What Dreams Are Made Of

Our lives have settled into a rhythm of sorts. They have become wonderfully, gloriously mundane. The wife and I both agree we made a good baby. She only cries when she’s hungry, is surprisingly aware for being just over a week old, and I could just sit there and watch her sleeping for hours on end without thinking even a second of it a waste of time.

Thus far fatherhood has taught me many things, and I continue to be taught on a daily basis.

I am living my dream, and that’s a grace few individuals can say they’ve lived, and mean it.

My dream was never to go into outer space, to ride a bucking bronco, to four-wheel it through the Sahara, backpack it through the Amazon, or climb K1. My dream, ever since I entered adulthood, was to have a quiet existence with my wife, and our children, and do silly, underappreciated things like watch a duck and her ducklings march along the banks of a pond, or listen to birds chirping in the twilight.

I’ve been traveling since the age of twelve, away from family and loved ones since before I was a teenager, and just being there, together, doing nothing more complex than watching the world go by is more appealing to me than one could possibly imagine.

I am living my dream, simple as it might be, and I am daily thankful for having had the opportunity to do so before it all crumbles beneath our toes.

No, I have not forgotten my calling, I have not forgotten my mission, I am well aware of the times we are living in, and the lateness of the hour, but even in times such as these there are graces one cannot pass up, or reject, because I know this was God’s gift to me no matter what others might say.

Thank you all for your kind words, your encouragements, and your prayers. You are my family, my friends, my brothers and my fellow soldiers in Christ.

Thank you also for understanding that this is a special time for my family and I, and if I am less frequent in my posts, it is not because I’ve given up writing, it is because I want to savor every minute, knowing that one day I will look upon these moments as the fondest of my existence here on earth.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monsters Among Us

I was present for the birth of my daughter. I was there when she took her first breath, screamed her first scream, and opened her eyes for the first time in this world.

No, I am not a woman, I do not understand what all that entails, but to say ‘my body, my right’ and to then choose to snuff out the life of one such as this for the sake of convenience, or because you did not think it was the right time, or you couldn’t be bothered with the bloating and the weight gain, is perhaps the single most monstrous act I could think of in this world.

There is no nobility there. There is no decency, there is no bravery in actively deciding to end the life of one such as this; there is just cowardice and a perverted sense of right and wrong.

According to the Guttmacher Institute since 1973 there have been some 50 million such monsters walking among us in this nation alone, and though some do regret their actions and find forgiveness at the foot of the cross through repentance, others continue to live as though they did not just commit atrocity. They glory in what ought to be shame, and boast of their decision to end a life and not lose a second’s worth of sleep over it.

It astounds me that something so serious can be taken so glibly in our day and age. It frightens me as to what kind of dark and disturbed world my daughter will grow up in ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, if today murdering your own child, filming it, and putting it on the internet is a vehicle to notoriety and fleeting stardom.

You can be against something out of principle, because you know it is morally wrong, because your beliefs dictate you can see it no other way, but it’s a real gut check when you’re holding a minutes old baby in your arms, and suddenly realize that 50 million such babies, helpless and defenseless, never got to cry, to smile, to suckle, and to grow up.

God bless America indeed!

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

I fell in love for the second time some five months ago. Oddly enough, it was with just a hand. Four small fingers and one small thumb that I was certain were waving at me on the sonogram machine screen.

Ever since it has been nothing but expectation, making sure my wife was eating enough, and wondering what my daughter would look like, be like, feel like, and sound like once she chose to enter this world.

I did a lot of praying over these nine months, because this is our first, and we’re not spring chickens anymore, and everyone seems to have a story about the worst possible thing happening at the most unexpected time.

I don’t know why people share these stories. All the stories do is frustrate, anger, and to be perfectly honest, makes you want to put a piece of tape over their mouth and with as much gentleness as you can muster tell them to shut up.

My daughter decided to be fashionably late, another reason for sleepless nights and wondering if everything would be well, and rather than arriving on the 6th of June, Victoria Belle Boldea came screaming into the world on Thursday, June 12, at 2:58pm. Seven pounds four ounces, twenty inches, and to me, the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes, two ears, nose, mouth, lips, tongue, and even hair, all where they were supposed to be, all within perfectly normal parameters.

At first sight I knew I would love her for the rest of my days. At first sight I knew I would do my utmost to protect her, provide for her, and be there for her whenever she needed me.

I’m a dad! As such, from one dad to all the other dads, happy father’s day!

Now I understand.

Pictures are forthcoming. Thank you all for your prayers.  

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, June 9, 2014

How We Got Here

Some are in shock, others are in denial, and others still are in mourning. Of the three, perhaps the mourning is most fitting for what this nation has become, and how quickly it has become it, but other than the jubilant forces of darkness that seem to be winning one battle after the other, most everyone else is asking themselves how we got here.

Even those banging the ‘it can’t get any worse’ and ‘we know how the story ends’ drums like crack addicted monkeys seem to have calmed down, realizing that it can, and has, and will get worse, and though we know how the story ends, we have to get to the end with our faith intact, and without falling into the pit of compromise so many seem to be head diving into.

I am a realist by nature. When you grow up poor and are uncertain as to where your next meal will come from most nights, optimism soon takes flight, and all that is left is the reality of hunger. I don’t speak of my early childhood often, because it’s something my family got through, something that made us all the stronger for it, and something that knit a bond of love and certainty as to the others’ willingness to step in and help out if the need arose.

But I digress. Today’s post is supposed to be about something else altogether, and it is important enough wherein I will save the childhood stories, and trips down memory lane for another time.

Those who choose not to acknowledge their own complicity in regards to this nation’s descent into darkness will be quick to point to the changing times, the entertainment industry,  mass media, or another of a hundred convenient little scapegoats.

Did these things have a hand to play in how we got here? Most definitively, but by a large percentage, far ahead of any one thing, blame must be laid at the feet of the church, who fell asleep at the wheel, and refused to wake up thereafter for whatever reason.

The moment the words sin, repentance, hell, and righteousness stopped being trumpeted from the pulpits of America, we began our descent, and we haven’t stopped descending since.

The wolves in suits make quick work of the Bible, butchering it mercilessly as though it were some fattened hog ready to be meted out rather than the inerrant, absolute Word of the Most High God. For some unexplained reason the widow of Zarephath gets more contemplation, sermons, and exegesis on ‘Christian’ television than Christ’s Sermon on the Mount ever will, while sin and depravity are treated with kid gloves as though they were not cancers in the Body of Christ. All this, to the cheers and adulation of those who love their sin more than they will ever love God, and who just want some sort of numbing agent to rub on their burdened consciences.

It is the church’s compromise that has led to this, it is the church’s compromise that began all this, and it is the church that God will judge first, with the fierceness of His righteous anger.

Rather than identify the cancer growing our midst, rather than attempt to remove it, and excise it from the Body, we’re busy calling each other names, playing the ‘my ministry’s better than your ministry’ game, and actually debating whether Paul the Apostle was the antichrist, and if we should rip the Pauline Epistles out of the Bible altogether.

A more cynical person would say we’re looking to pick these foolish fights, and focus on tertiary issues just because we don’t have the stomach for the real fight, and don’t want to confront the darkness that threatens to swallow us whole. A more cynical person would say that the church has become nothing more than an amalgam of sleek and fattened cowards who would betray even their deepest held convictions for the sake of retaining their positions and possessions. A more cynical person would say these things, but then again so would a realist, I fear.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Predatory Instinct

Pretty much every animal species can be categorized as either predator or prey. Depending upon where they find themselves along the food chain, some are both predator and prey, while very few can be catalogued as predators without equal, or apex predators of their domain.

There are certain traits and characteristics every predator possesses, and if we take a careful look at certain world leaders of times past, current presidents, generals, or military strategists, one can readily identify the selfsame predatory instincts and characteristics in them.

One is either born with predatory instincts or not. One cannot nurture such an instinct, or delegate it to others. One either has it, or they don’t.

What defines a predatory instinct is the ability to discern, identify, and sniff out weakness both in one’s enemies, as well as in one’s prey. An apex predator will gaze upon a thousand potential targets, and choose the weakest of the lot knowing instinctively which it is. Once the target has been identified, an apex predator simply attacks, without warning or pretense, without concern for collateral damage, or international treaties.

The mind of a predator functions very differently than yours or mine. Theirs is not a life put upon by notions of right or wrong, or if what they are doing will be seen as a positive political action. Their purpose is to vanquish their enemy, and pick the perfect moment to strike.

To think that one can negotiate, or use diplomacy with a predator is to embrace foolishness with uttermost ferocity, because deceit and misdirection are some of a predator’s most useful tools.

We have seen this play out on the international stage time and again, whether Iran’s incessant promise that they would not pursue a nuclear program only to have a representative appear on television months later talking about making certain nations ash heaps, or Russia’s vehement promise that all they want is a little beachfront property in the Crimea and nothing more.

Predators exploit weakness, they feed on weakness, and they attack weakness without mercy or preamble. If one is intent upon studying the habits of predators in the wild, one will also notice that predators will often work together to fell larger prey, instinctively realizing that they need each other in order to achieve a common goal.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been on baby watch the past couple weeks, expecting to see my daughter any day, so I haven’t had much inclination to delve into international affairs, but from what I’ve gathered, two of the biggest predators in the world, and I am speaking of China and Russia, are currently courting each other in the hopes of felling a common enemy.

The next few months will tell the tale, but I fear our weakness is showing, the predators smell the flop sweat, and it’s only a matter of time before they pounce.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.