Monday, July 31, 2023

Finish

 You can have a great start but a horrible finish or no finish at all. You can also have an awful start but a fantastic, noteworthy finish because you persevered, your goal was ever present in your mind, and you endured and persevered when others failed to do so.

It’s not that starts don’t matter; they do. You’d have a hard time finishing a race if you were pointing in the opposite direction at the starting line, but it’s in the finishing that you get the prize, the glory, the reward, and the accomplishment.

History is rife with people who started well and ended badly. It’s one of those things we don’t like to dwell on too much because it implies that we need to put in the time and make an effort to ensure that we are headed in the right direction and running in the selfsame race we signed up for, to begin with.

There are only three things you can control in a race. First is choosing to run the race. If you don’t want to run the race, that’s your decision, but don’t expect a participation trophy, never mind a prize. You didn’t participate, and God doesn’t hand out participation trophies anyway. Most people aren’t even considered an also-ran because they never ran, yet they have the temerity to complain that they’ve not been bequeathed the cattle on a thousand hills simply for being.

The second you control is the pace at which you will run. If you run, run to win, not to place. Give it all you’ve got and leave nothing in the tank, and that way, you’ll know that when the Master returns, he will have marked you as faithful and true. Third, whether you will give up when the going gets tough. That’s all you get to decide. That’s all you’re in control over.

What you don’t get to determine, what you can’t control, is the circuit itself. The race you have elected to participate in has a predetermined start and finish and the route you must take to be deemed as having finished it.

You can’t run around your block three times and tell everyone you finished the Boston Marathon. You actually have to go to Boston, sign up, get a number, stand in the cold one early morning with the rest of the participants, and begin your journey once you hear the pop of the starting pistol. That is the only way you can claim to have participated in the Boston Marathon.

By all accounts, Balaam showed up and started his race as he ought. Even Paul, the Apostle, refers to him as a prophet and says that he was sought after by kings of his time for his gifting, which tells us that he’d garnered a solid reputation for being credible.

It’s only in our day and age where self-titled prophets can miss it ten times out of ten and still have people banging down their doors requesting a word from the Lord about how they’re going to prosper and rule the nations. By any metric, the standard for what passed for a prophet back in the day was higher than in our present age.

A quick rule of thumb is that if someone you’ve just met introduces themselves as Prophet Bob and not simply Bob, they likely aren’t. The calling of a prophet is a burdensome one because the individual who is called in that capacity is usually tasked with telling people things they don’t want to hear day in and day out. Usually, when a man is chosen to deliver a message from God, the nation or individual he is giving the message to is a hair’s breadth away from judgment, and the warning they provide is stern and forthright. Although there are exceptions such as Nineveh, the words of warning God sends usually aren’t welcomed or acted upon, and the messenger is placed in the crosshairs of an angry, bitter, and rebellious people who are itching for a scapegoat and someone to pin the blame for their predicament on.

Numbers 22:7-9, “So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the diviner’s fee in their hand, and they came to Balaam and spoke to him the words of Balak. And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you as the Lord speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. Then God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?”’

Balaam wasn’t pretending to be something he wasn’t. God interacted with him regularly enough, wherein Balaam wasn’t shocked or surprised when God spoke to him. It was not a new experience for him, and he’d heard the voice of the Lord on more than one occasion, given his demeanor upon hearing it.

On its face, the question asked of Balaam seems incongruous with an omniscient God, but it wasn’t that God didn’t know who the men with Balaam were; He wanted to see if Balaam would answer truthfully.

If you’ve got kids, you know. Half of the questions I ask my daughters on a given day I already know the answer to, but I ask them anyway because I want to see if they are being truthful and honest in their responses. Kids lie sometimes. I know it’s a shocker, but all kids lie, especially when it comes to how much candy they had while mom and dad weren’t looking. If you haven’t caught yours in a lie, it’s because you either didn’t ask the right question or didn’t already know the answer to the question you were asking. 

God knew who the men were and what they wanted even before they began their journey. He knows the end from the beginning, and nothing is hidden from Him. Balaam should have known this already, but diviner’s fees don’t come around that often, and maybe he had some bills to pay.

Your integrity must withstand pressure; otherwise, it’s no integrity at all. While the sun shines and the roses bloom, everyone’s a warrior for Jesus. When you hear the clanging of shackles and the creak of prison doors, it’s another matter entirely. Fair-weather Christians, like fair-weather friends, are nowhere to be found when you really need them.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Motivation

 There is never a purposeful action without intentionality. Something always motivates and animates anything requiring exertion and effort. People just don’t put themselves out, tire themselves, and spend time and resources without a reason behind it.

There is always a why behind the what.

Because it wanted the other’s banana, chimpanzee A hit chimpanzee B with a rock and took the banana from him. The chimp would have left his contemporary alone if he hadn't wanted the banana.

The key is not going about the work of God joyless, emotionless, like some robot or automaton who just drudges through life, but going about it with the right motivation. When someone’s heart is not in something, you can tell.

People in ministry are either motivated by a calling on their lives, a vision God birthed in them, or by something other. That other is a big tent that covers countless possibilities and motivations. To be sure, money, fame, or control are all in lead positions, but there are other things just as corrosive that motivate men.

When motivated by a sincere love for God, the task itself is more important to you than the outcome or the results. God told you to do a thing, and you did it to the best of your ability, and the rest is up to Him. You don’t have to struggle, and you don’t have to fret. You don’t have to pull up pie charts and graphs, have projections, or estimate revenue. You rest easy, having done what He commanded you to do, knowing that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.

When motivated by self, ego, pride, or money, it’s all about the results. It becomes a results-oriented endeavor, where it’s not so much about obedience toward God and obeying a command but about building, growing, expanding, and increasing. It becomes about how many, how much, and how often rather than about faithful obedience to the plan and purpose of God for you and your life.

The telltale sign is whether you are the central focus of the entire enterprise or God is. If it’s all about a man, then it’s not about God. If it’s all about God, then it’s not about a man. Even the best of men are only men in the end.

After a seven-year hiatus, I was able to go back to my home country recently. Many things have changed, but some have remained the same, and as I always used to on prior visits, I went to see my grandfather’s grave in the village he was born in. It is an unremarkable grave with an unremarkable gravestone, my grandmother’s final resting place next to his, and not far from where he lies, his brothers who have also gone from this world.

Remarkable as his life was, it ended as all lives must, a mortal among mortals, sharing the same soil as those whom no one save their relatives had ever heard of. It’s a sobering perspective, to be sure. Still, one that keeps me grounded in the reality that it’s not about me, just as it wasn’t about him, and in the end, our faithfulness is measured by how faithful we were in that which He commanded us to do, not what we managed to accomplish on our own.

If the sail is taut, and the wind is blowing in the right direction, you don’t break out the paddles trying to row. You sit back and let the wind and the sails do the work. At least, I think that’s how it works, I’ve never been sailing, but I’ve seen clips of a sailing regatta or two. Your job isn’t to make the boat move; it’s to keep it headed in the right direction.

As long as the Word of God is your compass, you know you’re headed in the right direction. As long as you lean on it and trust it to guide you and show you the way, you know you’re homeward bound. In the end, that’s all that matters. Are you moving forward? Are you making progress and headed toward the place Jesus went to prepare for you? Is the prospect of seeing Him face to face and being welcomed into His kingdom exciting and exhilarating, or is it a reason for dread and apprehension?

Because you know where your final destination is and what awaits you, the storms that may come from time to time, the strong wind and the battering waves don’t bother you as much as they would others who don’t have a destination in mind. Even when we sorrow, we do not sorrow as others who have no hope. We do not grieve as the world grieves. It’s not that we are removed from the human emotions of heartache and pain and loss; it’s that we, the children of God, deal with them differently than the rest of the world does.

It’s one thing to mourn as though all was lost forever, never to be restored or reunited. Another to mourn with hope in your chest in the full knowledge that one day, you will hear “well done” and be welcomed into His presence, along with those faithful servants who went before you, likewise having received their reward.

What does any of this have to do with the importance of what motivates an individual to do the work of God? Everything. If you are motivated by anything other than the sincere desire to serve God, you may be seen as having succeeded at life, at having attained positions and possessions, but fleeting as they all are, one day, they will be no more. If your motivation is the love of God and the furthering of His kingdom, then what you will attain will not be temporal but rather eternal. You will receive what no man can take from you, from the hand of God Himself, who knows how to reward the faithful and obedient.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Balaam

 If you are not firm in your conviction that your integrity is not for sale, eventually, the enemy will make you an offer you can’t refuse. The same goes for your values and morals. Once you open the door to the possibility that they are for sale, all that’s left is the negotiations. You may not blink an eye at a dollar, but a million might make you pause and miss a step.

Too many believers are walking around with for-sale signs around their necks, and the enemy is taking full advantage of the discount. Especially when it comes to those who assert influence or authority over a number greater than two, the enemy is quick to promise fame and fortune to anyone who will go along with a particular narrative or spout some predetermined nonsense about how God was wrong in assigning Bob’s gender, and how Bob’s going to make a great mom someday.

That’s not the only thing, but it’s the newest thing, and you can tell who’s been bought and sold and bought again just by the way their narrative shifts and the stuff they regurgitate as though perfectly natural.

The enemy is great at scouting talent and making offers to those he sees as malleable or easily influenced, given the right kind of motivation. There are people who’d never dreamed of amassing the fortunes they have until they got into the pulpit pimping racket. You may think that sounds mean. I put it in the gentlest terms I could think of.

Some of the leading voices in Christendom today would be hard-pressed to get a job as a Walmart greeter. You know it, and I know it; they know it, and so does the devil. This is why they toe the line, say whatever is asked of them, and go along with the narrative. They like the mansions and fancy cars, private jets, and custom suits. They can’t risk speaking the truth and watching all that vanish in an instant. They know who butters their toast, and it’s no Wonder Bread they’re chowing on; it’s that brioche bread the French make that costs as much as a midsize sedan. Not really. I exaggerate for effect, but comparatively speaking, it’s pricy.

It’s not as though things were much different back in the day. Buying favors had become so commonplace that it even had a name. When the elders of Moab and Midian came to Balaam, they went with a diviner’s fee in tow. That’s what they called it back then. Nowadays, they call it exclusive content on Patreon. For only a few bucks a month, you, too, can get the inside scoop. A few bucks more, and you’ll get a personal prophecy authenticated by another prophet just to set your mind at ease in case it looks too generalized.

I’m sure ‘I will bless you going out and coming in’ is exclusive to you, personally. Well worth the $199.99 for that personal word from above.

At least Balaam had a gift. At least God really spoke to him. Some of these hucksters clogging up the interwebs wouldn’t know the voice of God if it boomed into their ears in the dead of night. Just as a public service to anyone who might read this, if someone is trying to exchange spiritual services for legal tender, run. Whether it’s one-on-one prophetic training, a personal prophecy, a word of wisdom, or the impartation of a gift, if they’re asking for the upfront payment first, it’s a scam, and you should avoid it at all costs.

The gifts of the Spirit can’t be taught. It is God via the Holy Spirit that imparts gifts, not man to man. I get that we’re all excited about the prospect of being spiritual powerhouses for Jesus, but the foremost question you must ask is if that is what Jesus wants for you. If it is, then wait patiently upon the Lord until He equips you, for only then will you be able to stand against the enemy and make war with him.

I understand that Brother Larry smacked you on the forehead and released the mantle of the fivefold ministry over your life, but maybe take a breath and see if it’s Biblical before you begin to wander the earth in search of demons to be cast out.

Jesus said He would make us fishers of men, not exorcists. If, within the context of carrying out the great commission, we happen upon one who needs deliverance, then by all means, but to make the casting out of demons our primary focus rather than preaching the gospel of Christ is not conducive to a healthy spiritual walk.

Balak had a problem, and in his estimation, Balaam was the fix. He didn’t bother to ask Balaam to inquire of the Lord; he knew what needed doing, sent the requisite diviner’s fee, and requested that Balaam come and curse the people of God because he feared them.

Balak was the king of the Moabites and knew just enough to be dangerous. He did not know the God of Israel, nor did he know it was from God that Balaam’s power flowed. He assumed Balaam’s words in and of themselves had magical powers, and if Balaam blessed a people, they were blessed, and if he cursed a people, they were cursed.

He needed help and knew just the man for the job. Given that, I can’t help but wonder if Balak knew of Balaam by reputation alone or if he’d employed his services on previous occasions. Granted, he’d never asked Balaam to curse Israel before, that we can deduce, but were there others, and if so, did Balaam inquire of the Lord before he set out to do Balak’s bidding on previous occasions?

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, July 28, 2023

Who Me?

 The way of Cain is ever absent of personal accountability and personal responsibility. Those who journey upon it either never fess up to anything or are never remorseful about their actions, and the notion of repentance is a bitter taste on their lips. They are masters of obfuscation and deflection, somehow always managing to blame another for their words and actions.

I’ve met a few such folks, so I know they exist. Nothing is ever their fault, no matter how much of a hand they had in their downfall. It was always someone else, some nefarious force, some unseen nemesis that forced them to make the choices that led to their predicament. Sin is always at the door, but men choose to let it in.

Perhaps they let it in because they don’t see it as the destructive force that it is. They make allowances and compromises for sin, thinking they have it under control until, one day, they wake up to find that it controls them.

You can’t open your door to a pack of wolves and expect them to be congenial and not tear you to shreds. You can’t open your heart to sin and expect it not to destroy you utterly. God warned Cain, and Cain disregarded God’s warning.

Genesis 4:8-9, “Now Cain talked with Abel, his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’”

Even when caught red-handed, Cain was defiant. His reply had no remorse or repentance, only obfuscation and deflection. Did he know so little of God that he believed God didn’t already know what had occurred? Did he think no one would notice a quarter of the population go missing? When there are a few billion, it’s easy for one to slip through the cracks unnoticed. When there are only four people, and one doesn’t show up for dinner, people notice.

That’s the thing about sin; it’s irrational. It will excuse any collateral damage, no matter how horrid, as long as it continues being catered to. People lose jobs, homes, families, teeth, and the ability to speak clearly or coherently, and somehow, there’s still an excuse and justification that has nothing to do with the sin they’re surrendered to. It’s not the crack; it’s the fluoride. It’s not the pornography; it’s the chemicals in the water. It’s not murder; it’s preemptive self-defense. People will always try to find an excuse for their actions, but even though they might be able to fool themselves, they’ll never be able to fool God.

Cain planned and executed the murder of his little brother. Some say it was a crime of passion, but there seems to be too much premeditation to allow for the possibility. In either case, Cain was guilty, knowing what he’d done, but when God asked him about his brother’s whereabouts, his answer was flippant and put off.

It takes some kind of moxy to lie to God straight to His face, but Cain did it, seemingly unperturbed. He ought to have known God already knew the entire drama and how it played out. He had warned Cain as much when He told him that sin was at the door of his heart, but once you go down the road of ruin and rebellion, once lies and deceit become so ingrained that you lie even when you don’t have to, who you’re lying to becomes as irrelevant as the people you hurt with your lies.

If you can bring yourself to kill your own brother, what’s a lie or two? If you can stand in a field with your brother’s corpse at your feet, hands still bloody from having done the deed, what’s the harm in pretending you have no clue what God is talking about?

Have you ever met someone who knows exactly why their life has turned to shambles, but they won’t admit it no matter what? It’s always someone else’s fault, some other external force that brought them to the place they find themselves in; always someone at hand that they can point and shift the blame to.

Maybe Cain learned from his father, Adam. He tried the same thing when God discovered them in the garden. When confronted about having eaten of the tree of the knowledge of God and evil, Adam was quick to throw Eve under the bus and blame her for his choice. Having been married almost a quarter century myself, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during that evening’s dinner. Could you imagine?

God honors humility, repentance, and taking personal accountability for one’s actions because it’s so unnatural to the flesh. Every cell in your body is screaming to pass the buck, blame someone else for your actions, try to justify and explain it away, and you go against the grain of the flesh and fall at the mercy seat. You could have attempted to obfuscate, but you didn’t. You could have tried to pass the buck, but you chose to own your actions and repent of your ways instead.

There is healing in repentance that finding scapegoats for your actions will never bring about. There is a reconciliation between God and man when the way of repentance is pursued, and in humility, you begin your journey toward eternity with Him. 

Cain chose differently. He did not own up to what he did, he did not repent or seek forgiveness, and God passed a sentence on him based on what he’d done and his reaction at being called out for what he did.

Genesis 4:10-11, “And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”

God is righteous and just. This generation seems to have forgotten these truths, and so they live as though the day of judgment will never come. It will. It always does.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Cain

 I’m always intrigued when a New Testament author references someone from the Old Testament. Why that person in particular? What made them special? What made them stand out? What can be gleaned from their life within the context of the text? All these questions get my gears grinding because understanding the individual, who they were, what they did, and how they interacted with God paints a vivid picture of what the author was trying to convey.

You can’t help but be curious as to why Jude picked Cain as one of his negative examples, along with Balaam and Korah. Within the context of the text, it wasn’t so much about the obvious, but rather Cain’s attitude toward God, correction, and other things rather than the fratricide he perpetrated that Jude was pointing to. What is the way of Cain, and how can we avoid it?

Unless you are a babe in Christ, you know the story of Cain, him being the first naturally born human after God created Adam and Eve. Cain was the first and oldest of Adam and Eve’s progeny, and after Cain came Abel, his brother, the second human to be naturally born on this earth.

While Cain took to farming and tilling the soil, his brother Abel took to keeping the sheep and being a herdsman. The world’s oldest profession isn’t what many think after all. It turns out it’s farming, tilling the soil, planting seed, and watching it grow.

Everything seemed fine until the two brothers brought an offering before the Lord, Cain of the fruit of the ground, and Abel of the firstborn of his flock. One offering was pleasing to the Lord and accepted; the other was not.

It is God’s prerogative which offering He accepts and which He rejects, which offering He finds pleasing and which offering He does not. Some surmise that Cain’s offering was rejected due to the absence of blood. Each brought the first fruit of what they had, and since you can’t get blood out of a turnip, I don’t know how well that theory stands up to scrutiny.

As is often the case, it’s not so much what the offering consists of but rather the attitude with which it is proffered. God did not need Abel’s sheep or Cain’s fruit, but one came before the Lord in the right spirit, with the right attitude, while the other went through the motions, hoping God would be satisfied and he could go on about his day.

Between those who approach God out of a sense of duty and those who come to Him out of love, those who approach Him out of love will have greater intimacy with Him. God knows if you want to be in His presence, spend time with Him, fellowship with Him, and learn from Him.

Since his heart wasn’t in it, God’s rejection of his offering shouldn’t have negatively affected Cain, but it did. He grew exceedingly angry, and his countenance fell. There’s a difference between just wanting some fire insurance and hungering after God. If you desire God, He will reveal Himself to you. If you just want some benefit or other that God can provide without getting to know Him, then don’t be surprised if your experience with Him is lackluster.

There’s an adage that you get out of something what you put into it, and it applies to one’s relationship and maturing in God as well. If we spend no time in His presence, if we have no desire to get to know Him, yet expect a fully fleshed-out, mature, and satisfying relationship with Him, our disappointment will know no bounds.

The way of Cain begins with the seeds of bitterness and jealousy. Once they are allowed to take root, the harvest they produce is naught but pain and misery.

Genesis 4:6-7, “So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

God saw it coming from a mile away. If God saw it coming, why didn’t He stop Cain? He warned Cain to be sure, telling him that sin lies at the door of his heart and that he should rule over it, yet God did not stop Cain from committing murder.

The long and short of it is that God created man with free agency. You can choose the way of light or the way of darkness, the way of hope or that of despair, the way of peace or that of chaos. You have the wherewithal to rule over the sin that lies at the door of your heart, just as Cain did. The key to it is to not let the evil in. Don’t give it a comfortable ecosystem where it can take root and blossom. Bar the door, double lock it, and stack some furniture in front of it. Do what you must to keep the sin at the door and not let it inside.

God’s counsel went in one ear and out the other. Consider for a moment that Cain was hearing the audible voice of God. The creator of the universe, the God that breathed life into his parents, was now speaking to Cain, warning him to rule over the sin at the door of his heart, and his answer was to rise up against his brother Abel and kill him in a field.

What horrid things men do in service to their sin once they let it into their hearts. There is no end to the cruelty, no limit to the perversion, and no finality to the downward spiral; once sin rules the hearts of men, the light of God is nowhere in sight.

Sin’s desire is for you, but you should rule over it. Be its master, not its slave. The surest way to ensure this is the case is for the Spirit of God to be a perpetual indwelling presence in your heart. Sin has no room to enter where the Spirit of God resides. 

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Spots

 I learned never to buy my girls anything white to wear the hard way. Whether it’s the dead of winter or the start of fall, if, perchance, I buy them a white dress and they wear it, it is on that day that they exhibit an existential need for ice cream. Not just any ice cream, but chocolate ice cream, not in a cup that can be controlled somewhat, but in a cone that gets soggy and messy and eventually drips all over those white dresses.

It is inevitable. Like the sun rising every morning and the flowers blooming every spring, if my girls are wearing white, they’ll want something that will have a high probability of staining whatever they’re wearing.

It’s not hard to spot a spot, depending on the background. If you’re wearing white, whether it’s mustard, ketchup, or chocolate ice cream, one drop is all it takes for your eyes to go right to it, focus on it, and notice it from a mile away. If you’re wearing darker colors, whether brown, black, or even blue, to some extent, you might get away with an ice cream stain or five, and no one would be the wiser.

Jude 12-13, “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”

I’ve been wrestling with a question for the past few days, namely, why it was that these spots are able to feast with the people of God without fear. As I said, any imperfection, smudge, or spot on a white background is easily identified and singled out. Could it be that they feast without fear because the background isn’t white? Could it be that they feast without fear because a winning smile and some exalting words easily beguile those with whom they surround themselves?

How much is the average modern-day Christian willing to overlook to have their ego stroked and their compromise justified? Perhaps these spots at our love feasts feast without fear because they know that we know what they are, but we don’t much care as long as they tickle our ears and make us feel good about ourselves.

They serve a purpose, and the purpose is to make men comfortable in their rebellion and disobedience. Make me feel at ease in my sin, and I’ll gladly throw you a few shekels.

One thing about these spots is that they never set out to serve God but only themselves. If you’re wondering who benefits, it’s always them, every time without fail. It is their defining characteristic and something that will stand out no matter how much they might try to hide it. Granted, nobody tries to hide it anymore. Rather they flaunt it and encourage others to aspire to it, drawing their time, energy, and focus away from pursuing holiness and the deeper things of God.

I happened upon a short YouTube video the other day where a guy with a microphone and camera asked random people whether they would rather have a hundred-dollar bill or one bitcoin. It’s a simple premise, to be sure, but one with the potential for hilarity ensuing, as a young man and his girlfriend began arguing as she would have preferred the hundred-dollar bill and he the bitcoin. Exasperated, the young man finally looks at his girlfriend and asks her if she even knows what a bitcoin is worth, to which she shrugs her shoulders noncommittally.

That’s how Christians should react when offered a choice between earthly riches and spiritual riches. Spiritual gifts and the things of God are so superior in value to worldly things that it’s a no-brainer. It goes without saying that you should choose the things of God each time, every time, without equivocation, yet it’s the earthly things we are encouraged to desire, aspire to, and want by those who are supposed to be leaders of men when it comes to the spiritual.

Why is it that men who are supposed to be representatives of the kingdom to come spend so much time focusing on the kingdom that is? Why, if we are heaven-bound creatures, are those tasked with pointing the way to heaven so enamored with the things of this earth? It’s another one of those paradoxes there is no answer for unless you allow for the possibility that they really aren’t what they pretend to be, and their hearts are tethered to the here and now rather than the hereafter.

The Word warns of such individuals not because they appeared among the brethren infrequently or once in a great while but because they were a recurring problem, so much so that it needed to be addressed. If only Jude brought up the existence of those who creep in, attempting to seduce the household of faith, it would be one thing. Still, both Paul and Peter echo Jude’s concerns, and even Christ Himself warns of false teachers and prophets that will rise in the last days.

The warning signs abound, but the question remains whether we will heed them or not. Even though people are warned not to touch live wires, some still do. They chose to disregard the warning and suffer the consequences thereof.  

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Tares

 There are tares among the wheat; Jesus said as much. We can parse words, split hairs, and blame the changing culture and the shifting sentiment, but it does nothing to take away from the reality that there are tares among the wheat. Granted, nowadays, it’s hard to tell them apart because the wheat is looking more like tares than ever before, but when the reapers come, they are well versed in knowing which is which, and they will set about their task of gathering together the tares, bundling them in bundles, and setting them alight.

You can pass off a fake to someone who is uninitiated, who’s had no experience with the real thing, but when someone’s entire existence has been spent discerning the real from the counterfeit, no matter how close to authentic it may have gotten, it will still be discovered, and summarily removed.

The tares have gotten comfortable, thinking no one has noticed them, but the owner of the field upon which the wheat was planted is judicious, and watchful, and fully aware that his enemy sowed tares among His wheat. Don’t mistake God’s patience for His acceptance, validation, or approval. Just because He has not judged it doesn’t mean He won’t, and just because He terries, it doesn’t mean the tares have slipped His mind, and He’s too busy with other things.

While we have the saying all in good time, God’s saying is more precise, being all in perfect time. He knows when the tares are to be separated from the wheat, He knows when they must be bundled up and cast into the fire because His primary concern is not the removal of the tares but the maturation of the wheat.

Both grow together until the time of the harvest. Yes, you can still tell them apart; you can still know wheat from tare, but they cohabitate, share the same space, and grow from the same soil. One is destined to go into the Master’s barn, the other into the fire, and there will be no way of switching sides or pretending to be something other than a tare when the reapers come.

Matthew 13:24-30, “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to then go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them up in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

The tares don’t grow where they grow accidentally or haphazardly. In His parable, Jesus insists that the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat. It is a worthwhile point to ponder because the older I get, the more I realize that very few events in life are truly accidental, and most of the time, it was either a God thing or a devil thing. Your job is to discern which is which and reject what comes from the enemy while embracing what comes from God.

Some things are easier to discern than others, but if you’re having difficulty on the discernment front, there’s always prayer and the Word to fall back on as litmus tests for which is which. Some days it’s as though the devil isn’t even trying. His snare is easy to spot; you avoid it and go about the rest of your day. Other days, it’s a layered attack with people who invested many months in gaining your trust and friendship before they pounce.

I’ve been called unloving and standoffish more times than I can count because I refuse to do one on one counseling with someone who’d just spent the better part of thirty minutes telling me how they’d recently left their husband, are in a vulnerable position, and just need a shoulder to cry on, and someone to understand the real them.

When I point out that we could have a conversation in public just as readily as in private and that it would be proper to do it in public anyway, it’s like a switch flips, and suddenly, there’s real anger there for nothing more than suggesting a public space rather than a private one.

The devil isn’t happy when he fails. You’ll know he’s failed because the attitude of the individual he is using to try to ensnare you turns on a dime, and you’re left there wondering how they hid the other side of themselves so well to begin with.

A wise man knows to point to a situation and declare, ‘An enemy has done this.’ That ought to suffice as far as explanations go, and if it doesn’t, then whomever you are trying to explain it to is just being difficult for the sake of it, not because they’re ignorant of the statement’s meaning.

You should know what an enemy is if you’re a fully grown human. If you’re a mature Christian, you should already know that you have an enemy. It’s not difficult to figure out why the tares are where they are once you determine that the enemy has done it. Then again, people still believe they are their own worst enemy, not realizing that sharp claws and sharper fangs wait in the shadows for an opportune moment to strike.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Unflattering

 If you have children or hang around with people with children, at some point during some particular situation, you’ve either said or heard it said that if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Those may be the agreed-upon rules in polite society, but this is war, and there is no room for niceties in war.

Jude had nothing nice to say about those who seek to harm the household of faith and the sheep of God’s pasture, and even though he had nothing nice to say, he didn’t hold back, keep silent, or consider the feelings of those he was singling out.

In today’s hypersensitive generation, what Jude said wasn’t just unflattering; it would be deemed downright mean and willfully caustic. I could almost picture a little old lady in a sun hat and a fan leaning over to another and whispering, “You can’t say that in church; you just can’t say that.”

Jude 12-13, “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”

It’s highly doubtful that after reading his short letter, anyone went back to Jude asking him to expound upon how he really felt. Some might misconstrue Jude’s letter as bitter, but those people have never invested time and energy into bringing someone to shore, only to see them swan dive into the deep the first chance they got.

For those who have never mentored or discipled someone, only to witness their life unraveling because of the influence brought to bear upon them by the vultures and the choices they were making, Jude’s words seem harsh and jagged, angry and cold.

People who think Jude sounds jaded and bitter have never been through a church split or the attempted coup of a ministry. They never felt the hot knife of betrayal slide deftly between their ribs; they never had people they considered friends turn out to be their sworn enemies. They’ve never had to take time to heal from wounds inflicted not by the devil or his henchmen but by those they once called brothers.

You can tell that Jude had firsthand knowledge and experience of such things, so when it came time to unload, although he does so poetically, on a level that belies his likely profession of farming, he holds nothing back.

There is the way I’d like things to be and the way things are. More often than not, the way things are, is markedly different from the way I’d like them to be, but we can’t deal in the abstract; we can’t live in the land of what if because while were’ busy tending to our imaginary gardens where no weeds or tares would dare to bloom, in the real world there are plenty to be had.

Jude was a pragmatist when it came to the dangers posed by those who crept in unnoticed, and rather than pretend they don’t exist or that their intentions are not as nefarious as they seem, he singles them out and describes what they are, what they want, and how they go about trying to get what they want.

It’s not enough for those Jude describes to remove themselves from a ministry, a congregation, or a situation they feel uncomfortable in because, due to their nature, they’d feel uncomfortable everywhere else as well. Their intent was never to assimilate; it was to pretend at being a believer to further an agenda. The agenda in question is always detrimental and destructive for the ministry and church body because you will never find the devil’s henchmen trying to build up the kingdom of God.

It’s largely why the church should disregard any advice from the godless regarding how to better accommodate those of the world and make them feel welcome. Although the world might want it to be so, it’s not the church’s job to make the godless feel comfortable in their sin. If you are in a congregation that coddles sin and makes the sinner feel at ease continuing in his sin, that’s not a congregation; it’s a money-making scheme.

If repentance is a foreign word from the pulpit on down, then know that the church body has been successfully infiltrated, and that which is being preached is another gospel. The pews may be filled every service, and the people might leave feeling better about themselves and their choices, but the church was never about feeling good; it was about being saved.

If a church fails in its primary purpose, that of facilitating a life-changing encounter between the lost, the dead, and Christ, then nothing it does in lieu of that can counterbalance that singular failure. They can dig wells in Africa, build orphanages in Nepal, feed the homeless in Los Angeles, wear ‘we stand with Ukraine' pins, and do all manner of good and noble things, but if they do not preach the gospel of Christ and if they do not call men to repentance, they have failed in their mission.

Charity is a byproduct, not the primary goal of a church. Potluck dinners and popup feasts are all well and good, but first things must come first. It’s likely that if you preach the whole counsel of God, you won’t have as many people show up for the potluck, but the truest expression of God’s love is not Aunt Edna’s extra greasy mac ‘n cheese; it’s Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Intricate

 If the devil were to come right out and tell his minions that all he was offering was an endless buffet of fear, death, and despair, there wouldn’t be any people lining up. There may be a handful, you know, the contrarians who think nothing is as bad as it sounds or as good as it seems, but for the most part, people would avoid the devil as they ought. That so many people are still enamored with the idea of evil, if not evil itself, proves that propaganda works and is surprisingly effective.

All the rubes keep going on about how all the cool people are in hell, but nobody mentions they’re all screaming in agony and terror. All the coolness wore off the first fifteen seconds of realizing where they ended up. The rest of eternity is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Nobody’s going to want to give you an autograph or stop screaming long enough for a selfie. Hell will not be what some imagine because what they imagine contradicts what Jesus says hell will be like.

The same person who said let the little children come to Me, let He who is without sin cast the first stone, and I lay down My life for the sheep, also said that it would have been better to hang a millstone around the neck of whoever causes one of these little ones to sin, and drown them in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:6, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

God has a visceral reaction to deceivers and deception, and there is zero wiggle room. The words Jesus used are also telling because it was one of the little ones who believed in Him that he was concerned would be caused to sin. No, I’m not looking to start another debate about whether someone can sin after being saved. I’m quoting the text, more specifically, the words of Christ.

How can one who believes in Him be caused to sin? It wouldn’t be by the obvious means. It would have to be via some sort of deception, some sort of deceit, because if you believe in Him, you know Him well enough to be able to identify sin and flee its tendrils. It’s via deception that the enemy gets a foothold within the church, and dripping lies like poison into the minds and hearts of the unwitting, given enough time without the antidote, they find themselves in sin once more.

It is the individuals who open the door to the sin that recaptures the hearts and minds of one of the little ones that Jesus has exceedingly harsh words for. They couldn’t get much harsher even if He’d tried because once you tell someone that it would have been better for them to die by drowning while having a millstone hung around their neck, there’s a sufficient word picture to make His intent crystal clear.

No one’s sitting around wondering what Jesus meant. No one’s trying to figure out the hidden meaning or the nuanced interpretation. The judgment on those who attempt to deceive the sheep of God’s pasture will be that severe. It will be beyond what they can conceive or imagine because the value God places on the souls of men is high indeed.

This is why I still maintain that those actively and knowingly attempting to pervert the gospel and lead innocent souls astray don’t believe in the God of the Bible or the words contained therein. How could you intentionally do something that Jesus said drowning in the depth of the sea would have been preferable to?

Whether men attempt to twist the gospel out of jealousy, trying to use Scripture as a wedge to separate and divide, for money, or out of a desire for more influence than they already possess, if their target is the little ones Jesus refers to, their punishment will be delivered without grace or mercy.

Some may sit back and conclude that this is uncharacteristic of a loving God, but it isn’t. Besides being loving, God is also righteous and just, and His righteousness and justice demand that He judges as He does.

Psalm 7:11, “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”

God uses His standard of justice, not mine, and it is by His standard that He is a just judge. That’s why saying something isn’t fair when God has declared it is, is foolish on its face because neither you nor I get an opinion on the matter.

We presume too much and don’t obey enough, then wonder aloud why things are going from bad to worse, why we’re not seeing the power and presence of God, and why we feel far from His love on most days. God met you where you were to bring you where He was, but if you remove yourself from His presence and wander through the desert, He will not follow you there. There is a difference between being lost and being a runaway, between never having known the light and having known the light, preferring the darkness. God’s not looking to play hide and seek with His creation, wherein we’re always hiding, and He’s constantly seeking.

Let’s not kid ourselves; some men do just that. Some men weasel their way into a congregation or ministry only to corrupt and destroy it, some love their sin more than they love God, and the pull is too much for them to resist, and some are caused to sin by the voices that cry liberty while they themselves are in bondage.

Perhaps it’s time we got past the na├»ve mindset that all the mansions in heaven have doggy doors, and everyone who’s ever touched their television screen during a televangelist’s musings is heaven bound on the nonstop redeye.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, July 21, 2023

Naturally

 Where does your knowledge come from? That’s a question worth tackling because not all knowledge is created equal. Not all knowledge is the same, nor is it all beneficial for your soul and your spiritual growth. When the Word of God tells us that His people perish for lack of knowledge, it is not knowledge of the stars, astrology, mysticism, astral projecting, or other things that are summarily shoved under the big tent of spirituality. It is knowledge of Him, His will, knowledge of the truth, and righteousness He was referring to, not those things we know naturally.

There is plenty of esoteric knowledge floating about that does nothing more than heighten confusion in the hearts of men, to the point that they’re either always on edge, hyperventilating over every little thing, or so indifferent about what’s happening around them that they fail to see the signs the Bible warns about time and again.

There is natural knowledge, and then there is divine knowledge. To understand the precarious perch upon which this generation is teetering, one needs to look no further than the fact that even natural knowledge has been perverted, and those things that were once self-evident are endlessly debated.

Truth is not subjective. Truth does not take feelings into account, nor does it consider personal opinion; it is anchored in indisputable and immovable facts. When absolute truth becomes something every other gender studies major can twist into a pretzel at a whim, you’re not just wading in the waters of confusion anymore; you’re diving headfirst toward the bottom.

Isaiah 59:14-15, “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself prey.”

Perhaps there is no better or more succinct description of what is currently happening in the world than these two verses in Isaiah. We have so removed ourselves from truth, decency, wholesomeness, and moral uprightness, that if, perchance, someone turns their back and departs from evil, they paint a target on their back. They become prey, just as Isaiah said they would.

The devil doesn’t like defectors and seeks to make an example of anyone who dares to depart from evil. Speak out against the vileness, perversion, sin, or the lifelong consequences thereof, and you’ll likely lose your job, reputation, possessions, and friends. It’s a sad day when speaking the truth has in itself become a sign of bravery.

Generations come and go, but the truth remains the same in perpetuity. There is one truth, the truth, and all others are, by definition, lies.

If Pilate were to ask what truth was today, he’d get ten thousand different answers from ten thousand different people, even though there is but one truth. Confusion makes for fertile soil as far as deception is concerned, and the purpose of it isn’t to deceive those already deceived but those who have escaped the corruption of this world.

When someone’s position is tenuous, when they have no underlying foundation and can’t back up their statements with Scripture and are challenged, their first reaction is to lash out and attack blindly. It’s not so much about defending their position; it’s about silencing anyone contradicting it with brute force and endless verbal beratement.

The attacks usually turn personal as well because their defense is not of a general, overarching truth but of a tertiary idea that you are now seen as the enemy of. If not for you and your pesky insistence on Biblical standards and Scriptural confirmation, the multitudes would flock to the far-flung idea that the Holy Spirit is female or one of another hundred musings floating about trying to find a home.

What they do not know, what they cannot know, is the truth of God, for no truth is found in them given their fallen state and their insistence upon tearing the household of faith asunder. It is the truth of Scripture that they speak evil against and make war against because the enemy is fully aware of the danger it poses to him and his plans. It is only the knowledge of this truth that sets men free.

Another way to identify the nefarious among us is that they allow for the corruption of the natural way of things or corrupt them outright for the sake of money, power, or influence. Such individuals are not seen as inoffensive or harmless by God, and the three examples Jude uses to paint a portrait of what God will do by way of punishing such individuals should be a reason for concern for anyone willingly and willfully twisting Scripture toward their end.

Given everything the Bible says awaits those who would deceive the sheep of God’s pasture, I wonder if these people honestly believe in the God of the Bible at all. Perhaps they’ve diluted themselves into thinking that God will be backed into a corner and accept their rebellion, but you can’t read the warnings and conclude that it will be easy for those who would corrupt the innocent.

If left uncorrupted, the natural things complement the divine. The knowledge of the natural harmonizes with the knowledge of the supernatural because their genesis is the same source, God, the creator of all that is. When the knowledge of the natural things is corrupted, these two diverge and no longer harmonize.

Proverbs 21:2, “Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

Just because you think it does not make it so. Just because you insist that your way is best is inconsequential.  For your opinion to be valid, it must agree with the Word of God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Words

Contrary to what you may have heard of late, words are not violence, but they can kill. Words are words. Sometimes, they can bruise your ego, but they can never bruise your nose. They can knock the wind out of your sails, keep you humble, and make you reassess your self-image, but they’ll never be able to make you bleed, knock you out, or give you a concussion.

Words can’t kill the flesh like a bullet or a knife, but they can deaden your spirit and make the bile rise in your throat at the mere thought of living. When your enemies can’t kill you outright, trying to kill your reputation, your name, and your spirit is the next best thing.

Jeremiah 18:18, “Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.”

We’ll start some rumors and pretend not to hear anything he says. That should sideline Jeremiah for some time because the things he’s saying seem too far-fetched and improbable. Sure, if they were positive and talked about blessings and such, we’d likely believe him, but he’s talking about the word perishing from the prophet, the law from the priest, and the counsel from the wise.

Usually, it’s people who have never had violence visited upon them that believe words to be violence, but that’s always the way of things. People wax poetic about things they have no firsthand knowledge of because, in theory, there’s an underlying romance to it all. Socialism seems like a grand idea until you see the empty eyes and emaciated faces of those living it; then, it doesn’t seem so romantic anymore.

There was no point in the archangel Michael getting into a war of words with the devil over Moses’s body because it wasn’t his fight. It’s also a good reminder for us because once you learn to discern which battles are yours to fight and which battles belong to the Lord, you’ll focus on the needful things and leave the ones outside your sphere of influence to the One who can influence them.

I can’t change the world, but He can. I can, however, grow in Him, learn to hear His voice, and obey His commands. I must do those things, and He can’t do them on my behalf. Everything grinds to a halt when we try to do the things only God can do and fail to do what we were tasked with doing.

Jude 10-11, “But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”

Although we’ve discussed Korah at length, there are two other negative examples Jude points to, one being Balaam and the other being Cain. Both of these examples are negative, meaning they’re not what believers should aspire to be but rather what they should avoid being.

It seems straightforward enough, but all evidence points to the very real possibility that the modern-day church either doesn’t understand we’re not supposed to have the heart of Balaam and run greedily in error, or knowing we ought not to, they chose to do so anyway.

If you’ve ever wondered what motivates disobedience and rebellion, Jude tells us there are three options: jealousy, greed, or avarice. Cain was jealous of his brother, Balaam was greedy for filthy lucre, and Korah was avaricious for another’s station and position.

Although times may have changed, men’s baser motivations have not. It’s still jealousy, greed, or avarice that animates the compromised soul, and if they’re far enough along in their rebellion, no words will deter them from their goal. The best you can do is say the Lord rebuke you and surrender the matter to God. He will not fail, nor will He let evil prosper.

You can try to resolve the issue in your time and in your way, or you can trust God to be God and deal with the matter as He sees fit, when He sees fit. You have a duty, a task, a calling, and a directive to carry out. Don’t be distracted by other things and fail to do the one thing God commanded you to do.

The archangel Michael knew who his adversary was, but he also knew his mission. He left it to God to deal with the adversary and proceeded with the mission.

When men have no mission and no vision, when God has not given them direction because they still require pruning, is when they try to pick fights, believing that’s how they stand out before God. Talking tough doesn’t impress God the way an angry tic doesn’t impress an elephant.

God knows the inner heart of man, sees beyond the bravado and the big words, and seeks out the obedient and faithful. He seeks out those who will stand when others flee and obey when others don’t. Be faithful in the little things, and greater responsibility will be awarded to you. It really is that simple, but as with everything else, it needs to be complicated in order to be monetized and for someone to be able to put together a course about it.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Flippant

 The more ignorance seeps into the bones of this present generation, the more flippant they become about topics of import like eternity and the hereafter. You only live once. We all have to die of something. There’s no avoiding death and taxes. It is what it is. These are the mantras of a self-obsessed and disturbingly ignorant generation that only sees what’s in front of its face, has no concept of delayed gratification, and has no consideration for what comes after.

Most comfort themselves with the thought that when you die, you simply cease to exist, and that’s that. There are no eternal consequences, there are no eternal rewards, you’re here for the briefest of moments, you muddle your way through a few decades, you get put back into the mud, and if you’re lucky, there will be a handful of people to miss you and shed a tear or two. Eventually, they, too, will pass on, and then no one will remember your name or that you existed.

It doesn’t matter what you do in this life because any consequences cease to be relevant once you’re at death’s door. That lie has infected the minds of billions of souls, not realizing that their supposition couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sodom and Gomorrah’s punishment did not end with their destruction. Horrible, to be sure, but a quick death is a quick death, even if it’s via fire and brimstone raining out of the heavens. I can think of a hundred worse ways to die just off the top of my head, some of which drag on for months or years until you wish you were dead.

When you factor in that the fire and brimstone were just the beginning of God’s vengeance upon them, things become clearer, and you realize you don’t want to get caught on the wrong side of God’s wrath. That whole thing about cutting off a hand or putting out an eye if they make you sin makes a whole lot more sense when considering the eternal consequences of giving oneself over to sin.

Jude 6-7, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

It’s not so much the fire and brimstone that should make you pause when considering rebellion; it’s suffering the vengeance of eternal fire that should make you reconsider. It’s not this life or the ending thereof; it’s what comes after because that’s forever, and forever is a long time.

In our neverending quest to be armchair theologians, we are quick to insist that it’s appointed unto men once to die but fail to finish out that particular passage with the after this judgment part. Sodom and Gomorrah’s judgment did not end with fire and brimstone; it began with it.

Eternal means forever and without end, which is the nature of the fire they suffer. There is no purgatory or waiting room to see whether enough people light enough candles for your soul to see its way to the light, no mulligans after you die, just judgment.

It’s not about what you think is fair; it’s about what God has determined as just. I know that stings, but it’s the truth of it. Sodom and Gomorrah were set forth as examples, meaning that if you do what they did, you’ll get what they got. That’s what an example is. When God offers up something as an example, it illustrates a general rule, something that will be repeated as often as the underlying factors leading up to the example being made occurs.

Don’t play chicken with God; you will lose every time. If He says, He will do something as a direct reaction to the action you’ve chosen to undertake, believe Him at His word. Don’t continue to do the thing He said He will punish you for doing if you continue doing it. You’re not going to get Him to change His mind, reconsider, reassess, or give you a pass. We may all think we’re special, but He’s still God, and He changes not.

God has always kept His promises from the beginning of creation itself, and He’s not about to stop just because the modern-day church no longer believes in the consequence of action.

Genesis 2:16-17, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Those were the rules. Those were the parameters set forth by God, and even though Adam tried to pass the buck and blame the woman whom God had given to be with him, insisting she was the one that gave him of the tree and he ate, it did not excuse his disregard and disobedience of God’s word.

“Joyce Meyer said I could” isn’t going to cut the mustard on the day of judgment. When men know the will of God, the Word of God, the direction, instruction, and purpose of God, yet choose to go their own way, doing as their hearts desire, it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness.

2 Peter 2:21, “For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.”

I understand that’s one of those problematic Bible passages no one wants to talk about anymore, but given what we see happening in the contemporary church, maybe we should start.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, July 17, 2023

All

 The danger in cherry-picking only the Scriptures we like is that it leaves out a substantial portion of the Bible that is filled with instruction, direction, warning, and wisdom. Most people have a handful of go-to verses. They’ve memorized them, stenciled them on pieces of driftwood, and hung them in their dining rooms, living rooms, or offices, some even going so far as to tattoo them on their bodies.

Having a tattoo of Leviticus 19:28 on your bicep is a weird kind of flex, but there are so many other things the modern-day church needs to get right before concerning itself with the I heart mom ink someone got decades before they met Jesus that it’ll be a minute before we address such matters. Joyce Meyer already gave her consent. Who am I to argue with the oldest woman in the world known to be made of plastic? It’s fantastic.

But you don’t understand; you’re a man. Don’t I? Does my being a man disqualify me from understanding vanity? As with all other things, we either choose to give in, embrace, and make excuses for it or reject it as something not worth concerning ourselves with or spending too much time on. Again, bigger fish to fry before we get into the arena of vanity and why it speaks to people’s character, but that doesn’t mean it’s inconsequential.

It’s human nature to be averse to correction. Most of us are born with an inherent predisposition to shun it, avoid it, and reject it, and you see it in children barely old enough to understand that you don’t get to wear a diaper for the rest of your life, no matter how convenient it might be.

Both of my girls are strong-willed in their own way, and both of them react in like manner when they are corrected, told no, or otherwise kept from doing something that will likely cause them harm and earn us a trip to the emergency room.

When I say no, and they ask why, my answer is always because it’s for their good, but they don’t see it that way. Trying to do a backflip from the highest point of the jungle gym in the park isn’t dangerous to them; it’s cool and exciting and something they know other kids will envy.

We act the same way with God more often than we would like to admit to ourselves. Each time we try to pursue something that will set us back spiritually or stunt our growth because we are no longer consuming spiritually nutritive food, He points it out, and we do our best to convince Him that’s not the thing that’s hurting us.

We try to tell God with a straight face that it’s not the broken leg that’s keeping us from running a marathon; it’s the hangnail we discovered as we were clipping our nails that morning. If God insists that something is bad for you, it’s best that you heed His advice and avoid it rather than try to convince Him that it’s not as bad as He thinks it is.

Even though my girls throw out the obligatory why whenever I tell them they can’t do something, because they know I love them and want what’s best for them, because they know I will go to lengths heretofore unheard of to protect them and sacrifice my own happiness for theirs, they acquiesce and end up listening.

Whenever I nix an idea, it’s not because I don’t want them to have fun or enjoy time with their friends. It’s just because it’s demonstrably a terrible idea, to begin with, that the mind of a nine-year-old came up with on a whim, but that the mind of an adult can see from different angles, thereby perceiving the danger.

Believe God when He tells you something is dangerous. Believe Him when He tells you something is not beneficial for your spiritual well-being. He’s not trying to be a wet blanket; He’s not trying to harsh your mellow. He’s trying to keep you safe.

Ignoring His warnings or pretending as though they are not within the pages of Scripture is spiritually detrimental in the long term, not because God’s trying to teach you a lesson, thereby making the consequences of your choices hit you so hard you’ll have a concussion, but because the nature of the choices you made in contravention to His instruction carry such heavy consequences.

If God says no, you do it anyway, and your life falls apart as a consequence, you can’t blame God for where you are because where you are isn’t where He told you to be. God tried to warn you off the trajectory; plenty of warning signs flashed red, stinging your eyes, but you kept on, determined, having made your mind up and letting nothing stand in your way.

“Can I have this, Lord?”

“No!”

“But I really want it.”

“No!”

“But You don’t understand. I really want it. What’s the worst that can happen anyway?”

Five years, a divorce, two bankruptcies, and a heart murmur later, you start to understand why God said what He said and what He was trying to protect you from, but too late to do anything about it.

Do what God tells you to do, and you will avoid much heartache. Accept that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and not just the handful of verses you like, and you will find His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.