Thursday, August 31, 2023

But You IV

 Not only does Jude tell us what to expect throughout our walk, he tells us what we must do in order to make it to the finish line and do so victoriously and in one piece. Perhaps not unscathed, perhaps not without a handful of battle scars, but victorious and whole nonetheless. Jesus never promised us a journey without difficulty, a battle without wounds, or a race without exertion.

On the contrary, He tried to prepare us for a lifetime of being hated, maligned, marginalized, and misunderstood, encouraging us that if the world hated Him, they would likewise hate us. This was not disputed theology until recently, but because to the lukewarm being hated by the world is worse than hell itself, they came up with a middle ground of sorts where they believe that they can have the best of both worlds.

That the Bible says you cannot serve two masters or have a divided heart while insisting you serve God is something they chose to ignore because if you shut your eyes and wish it bad enough, you can manifest a permissive god all your own lickity split. If you build it, he will come. If you visualize it, he will appear.

Through it all, through all the faithless friends, fake brothers, lying voices, mockers, grumblers, and complainers, we must hold fast, pursue righteousness, keep ourselves in the love of God, and persevere.

He does not allow for retreat, nor does he allow for surrender; he does not give us the option to go along to get along or remain silent because it would be more advantageous for the flesh. Jude admonishes us to press ever onward toward the prize, keeping ourselves pure and undefiled, knowing that He will return and His reward with Him.

Jude 20-21, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

The contrast between the godly and the ungodly is self-evident, not in the words they speak but in the lives they live. Throughout his letter, Jude highlights the contrasts between the godly and the ungodly. While he points out the rebellion, sinfulness, and evil of the ungodly, there are always those two words that are repeated time and again, ‘but you.’

An objective analysis will reveal which camp you’re in and which master you serve in five minutes or less. If you are uncertain, take the quiz. Are you living as those whom Jude singled out as those upon whom judgment will be executed when the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, or as those who are looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life?

For some, the first reaction to reading the previous paragraph will be unbridled rage. How dare he? Who does he think he is? I’m never going to read anything he writes ever again. If you are in that camp, your anger is misplaced. Don’t shoot the messenger; I’m just reiterating what the Bible is crystal clear about.

The rage comes from the flesh, which will deflect any attempt at self-assessment because it fears its influence will be discovered, and the life of ease and duplicity it has enjoyed thus far will come to a swift and untimely end.

If you find yourself checking off the boxes that characterize the ungodly rather than the godly, you must make a choice. Continue with the status quo, or humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and repent. As long as you have breath, you can repent. In order to repent, however, you must acknowledge you have something that needs repenting of.

I understand that repentance has become a dirty word in the modern-day church, but then again, so have holiness and righteousness. If such fundamental principles of the faith are anathema to individuals calling themselves followers of Christ and soldiers of the cross, are they what they claim to be?

The fourth leg of the symbolic chair is to look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. If you attend church, even minimally, or are acquainted with Christianity in any way, shape, or form, you know that Christ, the One who lived, died, rose again, and ascended to heaven, promised to return one day. Every believer wants to see His appearing, but not every believer wants to see it for the same reasons.

Some may think this is a needless argument, nitpicking just for the sake of being contrarian, but why you look forward to His appearing matters because it will determine your attitude and state of mind going forward.

Some look forward to His appearing not for the sake of spending eternity in His presence but to escape their present circumstances or the eventual persecution they will have to endure for His name’s sake. The eternity part is just icing on the cake as far as they’re concerned. It’s the escape that’s foremost on their minds. If that is the case, once persecution does commence, once the children of God are called upon to choose between being faithful to the end or denying Him, then because the reason for their desire was something other than eternity, they will fold. Being a living witness or a martyr was never something they signed up for. They were just looking for an escape, and as soon as they realize that’s not what Jesus was offering, they will walk away, claiming to have never heard of Him.

A falling away like the world has never seen won’t occur because people suddenly grow disillusioned with religion, God, or the Bible. It will happen because their expectations of an easy out will not materialize, and they will grow embittered in their hearts because God’s ways were not theirs, and His thoughts were not His thoughts. If only they’d read their Bibles and believed God at His word.

With love in Christ, 

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

But You III

 As we build ourselves up on our most holy faith and pray in the spirit, we must also keep ourselves in the love of God. If we are still using the chair as a metaphor, this would be the third leg of our metaphorical chair, and though it may seem simpler to do than the first two, it’s just as taxing on the vessel. That’s a good thing. Whatever is difficult for the flesh is usually beneficial for the spirit. The inverse is likewise true, wherein what is pleasing to the flesh is detrimental to your spiritual man.

As far as one of these practices being more important than the other, can you tell me which leg of the chair you’re sitting in is more important than its counterparts? Is there one leg in particular that stands out above the rest, one that you would deem of greater import than the other three? Of course not. The four legs support the whole and are interconnected in their purpose. If one leg is weaker than the others, it puts more stress on the other three until something finally snaps.

Keeping ourselves in the love of God is an action we must undertake as individuals. God can’t make you stay in His love; you must keep yourself there. You are responsible for remaining in the love of God, for keeping yourself in it, and no one can do it for you. Just as you can’t outsource your spiritual maturity, another cannot keep themselves in the love of God in your stead.

The source, genesis, and inception of all you do must be the love of God. You can preach, teach, sing, and even do acrobatics, but if they do not originate from the love of God, they are meaningless, pointless, and valueless.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

As with all things, the enemy has attempted to redefine love to mean permissiveness, validation, and acceptance of things God detests and abhors. It is a lie from the pit of hell that if you love someone, you will not challenge their lifestyle, choices, or errors. It is because we keep ourselves in the love of God that we risk being hated and looked down upon by speaking truth into people’s lives. It is because we keep ourselves in the love of God that we rightly divide the Word and preach the gospel to those walking in darkness.

The love of God compels us to point the way to Christ even though we know we will be misunderstood and hated by those who revel in deceit. It fuels our labors and focuses our purpose, shifting it from the things of this earth to the things of the Kingdom.

The love of God keeps us from being indifferent. It keeps us from being passive when we see evil seeping in and attempting to pervert all that is good and decent. Ingratiating ourselves to those who do evil is not a mark of love; it is proof of its absence. Someone unwilling to point out the precipice or warn of the danger isn’t doing it out of love or loyalty; they’re doing it out of cowardice and passivity.

When we put those actions into words, we discover how absurd they are: I love you so much that I will say nothing as you are barreling toward eternal damnation!

Say what? If that’s your definition of love, then you can keep it. If nothing else, love me less and tell me I’m in danger. We’re loving people into hell, and somewhere along the way, we will have to answer for it. By we, I mean the church. By answer for it, I mean be judged.

For us to keep ourselves in the love of God, we must determine what the love of God is. No, you don’t need a degree in hermeneutics, theology, or Hebrew to know this evident truth; you just need to read your Bible. The manifest love of God is Jesus.

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

Keep yourself in Jesus, and you keep yourself in the love of God. If you want to understand Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians in a way you’ve never understood it before, replace the word ‘love’ with the word ‘Jesus’ every time it is mentioned, and you will be awakened to a truth so deep and profound that it will bring you to tears.

You can speak with the tongues of men and angels, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries and knowledge, have all faith, and give all you have to the poor, yet if you do not have Christ, if you are not in Him and He in you, you have nothing.

This paradigm shift also sheds new light on the words of Jesus when those who prophesied, cast out demons and did many wonders in His name will be told that He never knew them. It’s not enough to know of Him; He must know you. All you do in His name must also be at His command, flowing out of Him through you so that you may be counted as a good and faithful servant.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Monday, August 28, 2023

But You II

 The four steps Jude outlines are not mutually exclusive of each other. For them to offer the protection, peace, and fulfillment they are intended to, they must be done in tandem. You can’t build yourself up in your most holy faith while ignoring the other three. They are symbiotic and interdependent of each other, working together to make a complete believer who, although buffeted by deception and deceivers, persecution and hardship, can endure and do so joyfully.

If you have no prayer life, then you can’t hope to build your faith. If you have no faith, you can’t expect to keep yourself in the love of God. If you have no faith, no prayer life, and are absent the love of God, then looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life is as impossible as breathing underwater without a scuba tank.

The second thing Jude encourages the faithful to do is pray in the Holy Spirit. And here’s where we happen upon our first hurdle because while Jude is writing to those who were called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ to pray in the Holy Spirit, many who claim to have been called, sanctified, and preserved deny the presence of the Holy Spirit as being for today, altogether.

Whenever you bring up the topic of the person of the Holy Spirit in certain circles, you’re sure to hear at least one person declare that He’s not around anymore, it was only for a brief time, then He got bored, and so went on a walkabout in the cosmos or some such thing.

John 14:16-18, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

Even with the constant redefining of words in our day, you’d be hard-pressed to make the word forever mean for a limited time only. It’s not for lack of trying on some people’s part, but Jesus said forever, and I believe Jesus over men, no matter how many accolades they’ve amassed or how well respected they are.

Jesus promised He would not leave us orphans and that the Helper, the Spirit of truth, would be the vehicle by which He would keep this promise, yet here we are, two thousand years later, insisting that what He said couldn’t possibly be true, because we read it differently.

If we deny the active presence of the Holy Spirit, the selfsame Holy Spirit Jesus said would keep us from being orphans, are we not, in point of fact, orphans? This is a simple question, but disturbing nonetheless, given the number of people who insist that the work of the Holy Spirit is no longer for today.

It’s in putting the pieces of this puzzle together that we begin to understand the reason why the modern-day church is in the condition it’s in. It’s no accident that an entire generation knows nothing of life, hope, joy, peace, or the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It’s no accident that fully grown adults need mantras, incantations, visualization, and positive affirmations just to get through the day.

They’re denouncing the one thing that makes the difference between having an indwelling and abiding hope and going through the motions and faking it until they make it.

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the one thing Jesus said the world cannot receive because they neither see Him nor know Him. Both believers and unbelievers can obtain fame, both the godly and the ungodly can obtain fortune, both those of the world and those of the church can climb the corporate ladder, but what sets those who belong to Christ apart from those who are yet of the world is the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Read the verses and tell me where I’m wrong or if there is any other way of interpreting them. Don’t tell me what a denomination’s stance is on the matter or what some Pastor’s stance is on it. Read the text and tell me there’s another way of understanding it. I’m not trying to pick a fight or be unduly antagonistic, but this is a hill I’m willing to die on if need be because they are the words of Jesus, and He repeats them not two chapters later in the gospel, according to John.

Another way of looking at Jude’s instruction is that each practice he highlights is like the leg of a chair. For you to rest comfortably upon it, a chair must possess four legs. A chair with only three or two legs will wobble, and you will never rest fully upon it.

I’m what the old Montgomery Ward’s catalog called husky build once upon a time. Unlike the delusional folks who’ve latched upon body positivity as though it were a box of free donuts, I understand that being of the husky variety, I can’t just throw myself into any old chair and expect it to hold me.

Before you get the funnies, no, I’ve never sat in a chair and broken it, but that’s because I always ease into them, especially the plastic picnic chairs most every family has that get baked in the sun season after season.

I’ve sat in my fair share of those and was never entirely comfortable. I try to sit as still as possible, not moving, not shifting my weight, because the risk is high that a leg would snap and I’d go tumbling rear over tea kettle to the stirring laughter of all present.

Jude tells us that the second of four legs that will allow you to rest in the promises of God is praying in the Holy Spirit. Couple that with Jesus saying that the Holy Spirit is the Helper who will abide with us forever, not only dwelling with us but dwelling in us, and I reckon a good chunk of the contemporary church needs to reassess its theology.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, August 27, 2023

But You!

 The Word of God is consistent in delineating the just from the unjust and the godly from the ungodly. Standoffish as it may seem, there is an us and them; there are those of the light and those of the darkness. There’s no way around this reality, no matter how many coexist stickers we plaster on our bumpers or how many interfaith potlucks we have with the community.

Contrary to the once famous country song, we don’t worship the same god from different kinds of pews because there is only one God, and all others are idols and false deities. If all paths lead to the same destination, that would make Jesus a liar. It’s not mean-spirited, combative, or cruel to say Jesus is the only way; it’s just the truth. Oftentimes, when people don’t want to deal with the truth, they’ll accuse the truth-teller of being a hatemonger. That’s just their way of coping with the feelings of unease crawling up their spine because they know somewhere deep down that what they’ve heard is the truth.

I don’t mean to get on Joel Osteen’s bad side; I’m still holding out for an invitation to preach his pulpit, but when he goes on about people of other religions whose deep faith in their chosen god will somehow get them into heaven, he’s contradicting Jesus.

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

There is no ambiguity in Christ’s declaration. He didn’t leave room for doubt or interpretation. After He said no one came to the Father except through Him, there was no addendum stating except for really spiritual people, emotive people, or spirit animal folk.

What the likes of Joel Osteen are preaching is not Christianity. It’s closer to Baha’i than anything resembling the faith once delivered to the saints, where a little bit of this and a little bit of that makes for a tasty religious stew. When was it that Christian leaders started teaching the essential worth of all religions rather than the singularity of Christ and the supremacy of the God of the Bible?

Then we wonder why the devil’s kids are outworking and outhustling those of the church. While they have one purpose, one goal, and one idol, today’s church is standing at the crossroads of indecision, with a hundred different trails forking in different directions, and they’re told by those they consider their spiritual authorities that any old trail will do. Close your eyes, spin around twice, then whatever fork in the road you’re standing in front of, take that one. It all leads to the same place anyway.  

If that’s the case, why not just pick the easiest path? Why go through the hassle of denying myself, picking up my cross, and following after Jesus, when I can party hardy all the live long day, live in the moment, surrender to my baser instincts, then meet the suckers who trudged along with crosses on their backs at the pearly gates? It’s their fault they believed Jesus over Joel Osteen, after all, isn’t it?

They could have been living their best lives, become a better them, they could have thought better and lived better, declared, and discovered the power of I am, but instead, they kept going on and on about the Bible and what Jesus said. If you ask me, I think they were just afraid of a little good old-fashioned competition. Jesus only fed five thousand. Joel’s got forty-five thousand spiritual corpses eating out of his hand every Sunday.

Jude 20-21, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

There are those who grumble, complain, mock, and walk according to their own ungodly lust; then there’s you. Jude makes the separation quite clear, and after twenty verses of warning regarding those who would creep into the household unnoticed and attempt to tear the body of Christ asunder, he turns his focus on you, and me, and all those who walk humbly with God, and look for the mercy of Christ Jesus unto eternal life.

Our mission is simple and well-defined. It is a four-step process that will keep us strong, vibrant, and useful to the kingdom of God if we follow through with it. These are not complicated or beyond basic understanding. You don’t need to take a course, and you don’t need to pay for a workshop. You just need to put in the time and prioritize God and a relationship with Him over everything else in your life. For some, it’s easier said than done, but there are no alternatives, shortcuts, or magic mantras you can repeat in the mirror.

The first step is to build ourselves up on our most holy faith. By this, we understand that it’s not a one-and-done deal but a constant growth from faith to faith, continually maturing and developing. If your faith is not stronger today than it was yesterday and stronger tomorrow than it was today, you have a problem that needs to be dealt with posthaste. Stagnant Christianity is as dangerous as lukewarm Christianity. If you are not building yourself up in your most holy faith, it should be alarming to you and making it a priority of paramount importance. That the faith must be holy goes without saying, for if your faith is built upon a foundation other than Christ, the Gospel, and the truth, it is no faith at all.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, August 26, 2023

In

 The other night, someone was banging on our door and screaming. I slept through it, but my wife didn’t. The only way I found out about the whole thing was that our next-door neighbor sent out a community text wondering if anyone had gotten startled awake a bit past midnight or if it had been just her. Everyone in the neighborhood started texting back that they hadn’t heard any noise, knocking, or screaming, and offhandedly, I asked my wife when I got home if she had, to which she answered yes.

She thought it was just her imagination since, after a couple of rounds of knocking, it stopped, but since the next-door neighbor had the same experience, all evidence points to the fact that someone was, in fact, knocking on our doors in the middle of the night. The neighbor had even called the police; they walked her property, but nothing came of it.

Other than highlighting that I’m a very sound sleeper, there is another purpose in my sharing this story. If the door is sturdy enough, you can knock until you’re blue in the face, and if someone doesn’t let you in, the best you’ll manage is to bruise your knuckles. It is incumbent on the individual behind the locked door to let you in, and they choose who they let in and who they turn away. Do they know you? Do you know them? Or did you just pick a random house in a random neighborhood and start banging on the door?

That many today do not know Jesus and are not known by Him yet fully expect to be let in when they show up and knock transcends hubris. If there is a word that comes close to what it is, it is perhaps delusion.

Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

If those who prophesied, cast out demons and did wonders in His name will be turned away, what of those whose claim to fame is fleecing the sheep and bilking widows out of their pensions for filthy lucre? What of those who walked according to their lusts and caused divisions within the Body so they might gain some advantage? What of those whose singular defense for the life they live is ‘I know that’s what the Bible says, but I feel…’

Do they not know? Do they not believe? Or do they not care that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God? They’re acting like spoiled rich kids who don’t believe the old man will cut them off no matter how much shame they bring to the family or how much trouble they get themselves into until one day he does.

Acts 17:30-31, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

There’s a difference between repenting and receiving. I know, a stickler for definitions this one, but words mean things, and if God is strict about jots and tittles, surely He is strict about whole words. God commands all men everywhere to repent, not receive. Once they’ve repented, they will receive, but you can’t receive without repenting.

Every time you sit down for a meal, you have to decide between something that tastes good and something that is good for you. Yes, there are those odd ducks out there, my wife being one of them who thinks kale tastes good, but for the most part, what tastes good is rarely good for you. The same can be said for our spiritual nourishment because the arbiter between what tastes good and what’s good for you isn’t always your spiritual man.

If your spiritual man has matured, his palate is trained to consume what’s good for him and deem it as tasting good. If your spiritual man is in his infancy, then the memories of empty calories and deep-fried Oreos still linger, and he associates good taste with those things rather than the meat of God’s word.

You will never grow your spiritual man by feeding him spiritual junk. Just as this shell of ours requires protein to grow strong, the spiritual man requires the Word of God to grow strong. Your flesh will always gravitate toward what keeps the spiritual man weak and deprived, hence the reason we are commanded to crucify the flesh.

There will always be people mouthing great swelling words, trying to flatter you in some way, but what is incumbent upon you as an individual is to determine whether their words, flattering as they may be, feed your spiritual man. Are they spiritually nutritive? Is what you hear making your flesh balloon with pride, or is it humbling it? Are the words spoken to you pointing the way to Christ and the cross, or are they keeping your focus on the things of this earth?

If they had their way, all my girls would ever eat is lollipops and Pringles. Either they’d go into a sugar coma or be so nutrient deprived they’d look like a mummy baking in the sun if not for their mother and I insisting they have a piece of chicken and some broccoli once in a while.

Your flesh will never want your spiritual man to be strong and operating optimally. It is against its best interest, and if we know anything about the flesh, it’s that it has its best interest at heart, always, every time.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, August 25, 2023

Timing

 Timing is of the utmost importance, and not just when you’re trying to bake a soufflĂ©. More often than not, the timing of something will reveal the intentionality and purpose behind an action more readily than any interpretation or narrative.

If a girl who wouldn’t give you the time of day suddenly begins professing her love upon discovering that you won the lottery, the timing of her change of heart casts doubt on her declarations of finally seeing what was in front of her eyes all this time. At best, the timing is suspicious. At worst, you’re about to be taken to the cleaners. Because the benefit of the doubt is proffered when such situations arise, many a soul gets put through the paces, and what’s left over after the pain and sorrow looks like a lump of minced meat someone forgot to form into a patty.

All of it could have been avoided, from the pain to the loss to the heartache to that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, if you’d just stopped, taken a step back, and analyzed the timing of the event that seemed too good to be true.

Suppose you’re not suspicious about the timing of certain narratives resurfacing like stinkhorns after a spring rain. In that case, you’re likely still hiding in your basement, believing what the talking heads on television are regurgitating every night and fearful about the unseen assassins ready to do their worst with every breath you take. Knowledge is power, and we know that they know we know they’re lying.

By the looks of it, and you don’t have to be prophetic to see this coming, every few years, there will be either a resurgence of the old deadly contagion or a new variant that will require you to muzzle up, lock yourself in your house, and whatever you do, make sure you vote from home. That’s where the germs lurk. The voting booth is like a magnet, all the variants and diseases drawn to it like a moth to a flame, and if you want to die horribly, then, by all means, ignore the people trying to save your life and go vote next year. I get that it’s more than a year away, but time has a way of passing stealthily, and before you know it, you’ve got daughters a hair’s breadth from the angst of adolescence, and you haven’t stocked up on nearly enough Pepto Bismol.

Because they’re not intelligent enough to come up with something new, and because if it’s not broken, you shouldn’t try to fix it, it’s likely that by July or August of next year, it won’t just be Canada on fire, but major US cities as well. They have plenty of time to make a new martyr that they can use as the reason for the angst, and if not, they’ll just recycle an old one because the reason behind the violence doesn’t really matter as long as there is violence.

Before the angry birds start chirping, I’m not advocating for any particular political party because, as I’ve warned repeatedly for the past decade, it’s no longer about left or right in this country; it’s about globalism and populism. That’s where the battle is and where the fight will be had. That said, full disclosure because that’s how I like it: I’m a single-issue voter, and that issue is life. I will stand with whoever is on the side of life because if the children of God can’t bring themselves to protect the innocent and defend the unborn, then we’re good for nothing, and we’ve proven it.

No, I’m not going off on the tangent of social commentary, but I felt you needed to be aware of what is being planned and that it needed to be said clearly and without ambiguity. They’re counting on your inability to see the pattern and the timing or be utterly disoriented by fear that you will comply anew.

Once you see the fear being ratcheted up, and specialists of all sorts of disciplines come out and tell you with a straight face that this is Ebola, the black death, and the Spanish flu all wrapped up in one, you’ll remember having read this, and start to piece their plan together based on the timing.

One would hope most people won’t be taken in by the same con twice, but then again, when over half the population is said to suffer from TikTok brain, perhaps that hope is overly optimistic.

Nothing should surprise you over the next year, no matter how farfetched, out there, improbable, or strange. I’m not saying you should ignore it or pretend it’s not happening. On the contrary, acknowledge that it happened and was real, and move on. It’s tempting to be just another rubbernecker, looking at the wreck this nation has become, but this isn’t home, and we’re just passing through. Through it all, we must remain focused on Jesus and do our utmost to stand for truth in the face of lies and righteousness in the face of evil.

If you have not purposed in your heart what you will do when the avalanche of fearmongering resumes, you run the risk of being swept away with the crowd, reacting to lies and innuendo rather than being analytical regarding what you see and hear.

Just like Joshua of old, you must have already established the path you will take before the fork in the road. That you will stand for the truth must already be cemented in your heart before the pressure increases, before the threats start flying, and before those in power take off the velvet glove to reveal the iron fist.

Purpose in your heart today that you will serve the Lord come what may so that tomorrow, when others are faced with the decision, yours will already have been made, and you will stand, head held high, knowing the power of the One in whom you’ve placed your faith.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Symptoms

 Some people are never happy. They always grumble and complain even when their lot in life is objectively better than most on this spinning rock. There’s always something they are unhappy about, always someone that falls short of their expectations, always a perceived sleight, even if it’s just imagined.

Those they consider beneath them never bow and scrape low enough, and those above them never appreciate the alacrity with which they themselves bowed and scraped. If they live in a house, their nagging thought is that it should be a mansion, and if they live in a mansion, they’re consumed with why it’s not a palace.

What many fail to understand is that the grumbling and complaining aren’t the disease; they’re just the symptoms of the disease. The disease is ungodliness; the symptoms vary from person to person, but the cure is the same for everyone.

While hymns have fallen out of favor with many contemporary Christians, I still enjoy them. Call me a maverick, a rebel, or simply counterculture, but I enjoy simple songs written decades and, in some cases, centuries ago. Not so much the three-chord progressions or the tempo but the lyrics. Say what you will about the old hymns, but they just don’t write them like they used to. It’s hard to put out inspired lyrics when they have to go through fifteen approvals to ensure they don’t offend anyone and are milquetoast enough to get plaid on secular radio. That’s the tradeoff for smothering divine inspiration; you get to hear yourself crooning on the radio.

It’s hard to remain ungrateful and grumbling when you realize what Jesus did for you. When the reality of your predicament and the magnitude of His sacrifice take hold of your heart, how can you not sing with joy? Godliness is the cure, and godliness can only come about by repentance.

He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay; I needed someone to wash my sins away. Speaking of old hymns, next to Amazing Grace, that is one of my favorites.

Because the ungodly never experienced being washed by the blood of Christ, because they never knew what it was to walk through life without the burden of their sins crushing them into the dirt, everything to them is burdensome and cumbersome. There is no joy in their lives, but for the sake of appearances, they pretend that there is, until you wake up one morning and run across a headline about how some seemingly happy and well-adjusted starlet overdosed on sleeping pills or worse.

They should have been tiptoeing through the tulips for the rest of their days by any earthly metric. They had enough money to never work again, and they were beloved by millions of fans, yet they deemed their existence so dire and tragic that they could not bear to see another sunrise.

Ungodliness is fertile soil for grumbling and complaining, and with each iteration, your circumstances seem more dire still. For the most part, it’s an illusion, but if you repeat the same lie to yourself often enough, it will seem like the truth eventually. Like any weed or plant, the roots grow deeper, the grumbling louder, the complaining more persistent, and they will not stop until they are dealt with and pulled up by the root.  

It’s easy to dive headfirst into the pool of despair where everything seems hopeless and lost if Christ is not the anchor of your soul, and He is not the foundation upon which you’ve built your existence. Even in the darkest seasons and the direst of circumstances, if you are in Christ and He is in you, there is hope, purpose, joy, and peace. It’s the reason the enemy is intent on keeping you from a genuine and abiding relationship with Him. He’ll do his utmost to distract you with positions and possessions, prosperity and clout as long as the desire of your heart is not Christ Jesus.

If you’ve ever wondered how people endured persecution, torture, and even martyrdom, and still do to this day, now you have your answer. The presence of Christ in your heart carries you through, buoys you, and keeps you afloat even when the undertow is strong enough to drag entire boats into the deep.

We can endure because our hope extends beyond the now, beyond this life and this plain of existence, into eternity in His presence. Knowing this, our focus should not be on dates, events, supplies, or anything of the sort unless God explicitly instructs you individually towards this end, but rather on His return and the promise thereof.

I’m well aware that it’s not easy. There is always something to distract us in today’s fast-paced world, always some new war or rumor of war, natural disaster, or manufactured pestilence to keep us spinning our wheels, but as children of God, we must possess the self-awareness to pull out of the nosedive and return to doing what He has tasked us with doing.

Is it wrong to know what’s going on or even what’s about to occur? Most assuredly, no, but it is detrimental to the spiritual man to dwell on it, obsess over it, and make it the core of your existence rather than a relationship with Christ. Don’t confuse the road signs for the destination. Don’t confuse events for The Event. Our duty and our journey end when He returns, not when such and such a thing takes place. It is well worth remembering because you’re about to hear a fresh chorus of ‘here is the Christ, or there,’ but do not go!

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

My Way!

 You know the church is in trouble when everything must be reduced to either a tweet, a meme, or something no longer than a sentence in order to get the message across. If it’s anywhere near a paragraph, whatever it may be, that’s too long for most people’s attention spans. They’ve got TikTok videos of dumb people doing dumber things to watch, and your attempt at nuance regarding godliness, virtue, and righteousness is cutting into that time. If you’d be more considerate and just post ‘Jesus Saves’ on your Facebook wall from time to time, with some flowers or butterflies in the background, then maybe people wouldn’t think you were so stuffy.

It’s not just America or the world that has been dumbed down to the point of watching for drool to spill out of someone’s face; the church has too. It’s a supply and demand issue, and the masses are demanding quick, easy, and pain-free salvation delivered to their front door, and if you can’t deliver, there are hundreds who can or say they can, so there. I’m waiting for them to offer a money-back guarantee: If you don’t make it to heaven, we’ll send you a refund, guaranteed. Like money would matter at that point.  

All that discipleship, spiritual growth, and maturity stuff was for people who didn’t have YouTube and Minecraft. You can’t expect this present generation to put in as much time discovering Jesus and the Gospel as those who didn’t have the internet. Just tell me I’m saved, I’ll send you a check, and I can go on about wasting my life away as though time wasn’t a finite thing that slips through your fingers at a frightening speed.

Tell me I can do all things, but leave out the part about denying myself and picking up my cross. Tell me I’ll be blessed going out and coming in, but leave out the part about repentance. McDonald’s gives it to me my way, why can’t you? Haven’t you heard that the customer is always right? Give me what I want, or I go across the street. And that’s how we’ve come to a place where the sheep dictate terms to the shepherds, and the shepherds, at least the unscrupulous ones, do as they’re told because they have retirements to consider and Florida condos to pay off.

Can you even blame them, though? I’m sure some of them started out enthusiastically enough, wanting to see souls saved and lives restored, but after the twentieth or thirtieth reprimand from sister Bertha who doesn’t appreciate all the references to gluttony, and sister Anita, who doesn’t appreciate his use of the word sin, especially in relation to transgender folk because she has a nephew who just realized he was a girl, the bile builds up, and the light in the eyes dims.

It’s easy to blame the shepherds. No, I’m not talking about the wolves in shepherd’s frocks; I’m talking about the genuine shepherds. The ones that started out preaching the truth but were backed into a corner by the sheep and the deacon board and didn’t have the strength of character to walk away. It’s easy to rationalize, I promise. If they fire me, they’ll just hire somebody else who will preach what they want to hear, and I’ll be out of a job. Maybe, if I stay, I can throw a nugget or two of truth in there once in a while, and they won’t notice.

Just as a democracy can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse, a proper church with a shepherd leading his flock can only exist until the sheep discover they can control the purse strings and keep the shepherd from feeding his family if he doesn’t fall in line.

Yes, the natural inclination is to say he should trust God and preach the truth. I agree wholeheartedly; some do it, and they have my deep respect and admiration. However, why can’t we lay some of the blame at the feet of the sheep who grumble any time the pastor quotes a Bible verse or attempts even a minimal exegesis on a controversial topic? Why can’t we lay some of the blame at the feet of the elder boards who call a meeting any time someone feels even remotely offended by the Bible?

2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

Who is Paul referring to when he says ‘they’? It’s not the shepherds but the sheep. The sheep will not endure sound doctrine, so they will search for shepherds who will tell them what they want to hear. They want to be fed, but they want to be the ones who decide what’s put on the plate.

Due to being in ministry for over three decades, I have more than a handful of pastor friends. We talk on occasion, and recently, every conversation I’ve had ended with an admission that they were feeling run down, constantly attacked, close to breaking, or some other variation of a soul in distress. These are good men who have kept the truth alive, who sacrificed for the cause of Christ, and who continue to preach the Gospel in a world that’s growing exceedingly antagonistic toward it.

If you happen to be in such a church with such a pastor, I would ask that you not be silent when they are being needlessly attacked but stand up and defend them. I would ask that you be the Aaron to their Moses and help lift their weary arms because they are human, and they hurt, and they bleed just as readily as you. A little grace goes a long way. At least, that’s what I’ve come to discover over the course of my life in ministry.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, August 21, 2023

Accountable

 It’s funny how the people who create the messes never own up to it. They’ll blame everyone and everything but never once take an ounce of accountability for their hand in the destruction of morality, family, or decency. The same people who screamed at the top of their lungs that finding a spouse, settling down, having children, and raising a family was too vanilla, too Leave it to Beaver, or too antiquated are now decrying the downfall of Western civilization because they see the natural end of what they started, and it’s a gruesome thing to behold.

It runs the gamut. From those who were sanctimoniously declaring that if you didn’t roll up your sleeve like a good little slave, you deserved to be put to death, to those who insisted that having children was for the birds, to those who praised states like California as they descended into a version of a third world barrio where walking from your car to your front door was deemed dangerous.

When someone insists that you should be doing a thing, whatever that thing might be, while they are doing the opposite, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Ever wonder why the people running Silicon Valley won’t allow their children to have cell phones with screens? Ever wonder why the smug and condescending faces insisting that diversity was our strength moved out of the states they were trying to gentrify? Ever wonder why the screaming harpies insisting that killing babies is a constitutional right and you should kill as many as you can are advocating for migration in the tens of millions?

We live in a fallen world, and evil people with evil intent abound. It’s one of those hard pills that we must nevertheless swallow because far too many today are still of the impression that most folks are generally good and they want what’s best for you. They want what’s best for them. That’s the truth of it, and they’re willing to sacrifice you, your children, your happiness, and your future for fatter wallets and more power.

Some are slowly waking to the realization that their elected officials are selling them down the river and acting contrary to their benefit or beliefs. Those whose sole task is to represent the people aren’t representing anything beyond their personal self-interests. A handful realize that the people they idolize, whether in sports, media, or entertainment, have sold out. If ever they viewed them as anything more, they now view them as nothing more than a meal ticket and leverage for their next contract negotiation, but not enough are. Not nearly enough.

Before we shrug it off, thinking that’s the world’s problem, today’s church has become a mirror image of the world, wherein its leaders lie to the sheep’s faces, and they accept it as gospel truth. Whenever what they say turns out to be a pack of lies, they obfuscate and attempt to blame God for their lies not having come to pass.

It’s not their fault God didn’t read 88 reasons why Christ was returning in 88; He should have kept to their schedule rather than His, after all. The modern-day church is broken just as readily as this nation and the world. The more difficult things become for the average individual, the more obvious that will become.

In the midst of it all, however, there is a remnant. The remnant is not one particular denomination in one specific city or one particular state but handfuls here and there who walk in obedience to the Gospel rather than use it as a license for rebellion.

It is this remnant who will see God’s protection, provision, and providence. Amid the storm, they will have peace. Amid the darkness, they will be light. Amid the chaos, they will retain the joy of the Lord, and both the godless and the lukewarm will hate them for it.

It’s not as though they couldn’t have chosen obedience too. It’s not as though they couldn’t have humbled themselves at the foot of the cross and received forgiveness, and been restored. They chose not to, and the consequences of their actions are something they cannot take accountability for. As such, they will find someone to blame, someone to focus all their rage toward, and the remnant will be the convenient target.

I’m often asked why I don’t focus on the wrath of God, judgment, and the events of the last days more often than I do, and it’s because those things will not directly impact us as the saved and redeemed of God. The wrath of the ungodly is something that will directly affect us, and persecution is one of the things we must prepare for so that when it is unleashed, we might not flinch or draw back in fear.

The events are akin to mile markers telling us how close we are to our destination. We notice them as we pass by, understand the season we live in, and press on toward the prize. The persecution, on the other hand, is something we will have to contend with sooner rather than later. For us to remain steadfast, it must not surprise us that those claiming to be of the family of God will be among our most ardent persecutors. Some of you still don’t believe it, but on that day, you will remember that someone told you it would be so.

I’m fully aware that my words will land like a lead balloon for some, but unlike those of the world, I hold myself accountable to God and His Word. Hate me if you must, the line is long, and there may be a wait, but my hands are clean, and I’ve told you the truth. Perhaps one day, you will learn that those who lie to you are not your friends, and those who speak truth into your life are not your enemy.

Then again, the time is upon us when men no longer endure sound doctrine and, because they have itching ears, have heaped for themselves teachers. Men have turned away from the truth and been turned aside to fables because what was prophesied as a future event is unfolding presently, but most are too busy to notice.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Will You?

 If you feel it an imposition to thank God for the blessings in your life, how will you ever thank Him for the trials? If all we ever do is grumble and complain when we have no earthly reason to, how will we rejoice in our suffering and tribulation? If everything we do, experience and see is through this earthly prism, if everything gets interpreted and filtered through the flesh, then we won’t, and that’s the truth of it, no matter how hurtful it may come across.

Only the renewed mind can see the benefits of suffering; only the sanctified heart can perceive the upside of tribulation, and trying to explain these things to someone who has not been renewed, restored, and reconciled unto God is an impossibility.

When broaching these topics, you often get the standard ‘Why would Jesus beat up His bride on their wedding night?’ because such individuals cannot perceive that suffering for the cause of Christ isn’t abuse but added adornments of priceless jewels on the bride’s crown. It’s not sadism or needless suffering; it’s enduring to the end and being a living testimony. Eternity is not about the here and now, it is about the hereafter, and until we come to terms with this undeniable truth, we will always see trials, hardship, and persecution as net negatives rather than positives in our lives.

Even though we are commanded that in everything, we ought to give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us, the only things we seem to be thankful for are the things that don’t matter eternally. Everyone’s thanking the Lord for the new car, the new home, the new job, with smiling pictures to prove it, but very few are thankful for the trials that refine and perfect.

If our definition of God’s favor and blessing is having stuff, then we’re no better than Job’s wife when she encouraged her husband to curse God and die when the stuff was taken away. The point isn’t that you shouldn’t have stuff, but that the stuff shouldn’t have your heart. Only God should sit on the throne of your heart, and He’s not interested in sharing it. Whether it’s your flesh, possessions, denomination, children, spouse, or parents, if your heart is divided and does not belong wholly to God, it will be used to marginalize Him and eventually dethrone Him altogether. Whatever men place above the will of God is what rules their hearts, no matter how vehemently they may deny it.

Wholly His means wholly His, not partially, not half, not even ninety percent. Especially in the Western world, this mindset is difficult to acquire because the distractions are plentiful, and those insisting that you can arbitrage your heart and sell yourself to the highest bidder are everywhere.

It is far easier to surrender wholly to God when God is all you have in this world. This is why those living in abject poverty, being persecuted for their faith in Christ, are so effective in their callings. There is no consideration for anything other than the will of God, and their lives are already forfeit as far as they are concerned. If they must suffer for the cause of Christ, so be it. If they must die for the cause of Christ, all the better.

Living by faith is not for the duplicitous or the faint of heart. This matters because the Word tells us that the just will live by faith, and that day is coming on faster than some may think. I don’t know how God will provide, but I know He will. I don’t see how God will protect me, but I know He can. Faith is the foundation upon which our hope of glory rests, knowing that if Christ is in us and with us, we will weather every storm that comes our way.

What have you to fear if He is near? What have you to worry over when He promised He will be an ever-present help in times of trouble? That some would grumble and complain now foreshadows the extent of the falling away that will take place once everything that can be shaken begins to shake.

Jude 16-19, “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”

There can be no peace in the heart of someone walking toward the Promised Land while looking back toward Egypt. Some have even taken to walking backward just so they can glimpse what they left behind. Such individuals will always find a reason to grumble and complain because while they want heaven, they are unwilling to sacrifice the flesh in order to enter in.

Jude was eluding to this when he said that those who grumble and complain are walking according to their own lusts. Because they never broke ties with the world, with sin, or with their flesh, they walk about joyless, absent peace, rudderless and empty, perpetually off-kilter.

Imagine being cold to your bones, seeing a raging bonfire before you, but never getting close enough to warm yourself. Imagine being famished, hungry to the point of starvation, seeing a table laden with delicacies within reach, yet never being able to take, eat, and satiate your hunger. That is the tragic existence of those who insist on having one foot in the world and one foot in the church. That is their lot in life. The only way they can get warm, the only way they can get fed, is to repent, surrender, and humble themselves at the foot of the cross. Anything less is an exercise in futility.  

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Judgment

 Just because God hasn’t done something doesn’t mean He won’t. I think it’s because we see God through the prism of flesh and project our own flightiness and short attention span onto Him that some insist God will never judge the ungodly, that they’ve gotten a pass for this or that reason, and that they’ll skate for having sought to damage and destroy the household of faith.

If thinking God has amnesia is the best some can do, then that’s cold comfort indeed. Perhaps it’s just me, but it’s taking a pretty longshot gamble to assume God won’t remember to judge an individual when He keeps His covenant for a thousand generations. We confuse mercy for indifference and patience for forgetfulness. This is why so many are downright shocked when God proceeds with judgment.

Jude 14, “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Yes, Jude references Enoch. Not necessarily the book of Enoch, as some will likely conflate, but Enoch himself, who prophesied about the men Jude was warning the household of faith about. That said, I have nothing against anyone reading the Apocrypha, as long as you allow two minor stipulations. First, before diving headfirst into the Apocrypha, you must know the Bible backward and forward, and second, the Apocrypha cannot at any point supersede the Bible or be deemed a greater authority. Those are the two stipulations; if we adhere to them, I take no umbrage with anyone broadening their knowledge base.

What I do take umbrage with and quite vehemently is someone arguing against what Jesus said with something written in the book of Tobit or the book of Judith. Even at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Jesus is preeminent, His words are preeminent, His counsel is preeminent, and His direction is preeminent.

What should leap from the page isn’t the reference to Enoch but the interconnectedness of the Word of God, wherein, time and again, scripture is used to interpret scripture, and those of the past are brought to mind as examples to undergird the point Jude is trying to get across.

The mention of Enoch aside, there is a discernable theme to the words of Jude, seeing as within this one verse, the term ungodly is used no less than four times. It is self-evident that when God comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment on all, the only metric He will use will be godly and ungodly. That’s it; nothing more. Not what denomination you belonged to, not whether or not you grew out your beard, not whether you were a dog person or a cat person, not even if you wore a wedding band or decided against it. Were you godly? If yes, then you will not suffer the judgment of the ungodly.

Elementary and basic as the following might seem to some, you cannot be godly, possess godliness, or be deemed so without the presence of Christ in your life and without having reconciled yourself unto the Father through the Son.

I understand that theological heavyweights such as Oprah would beg to differ, but Jesus said that no man comes to the Father but by Him. If this is the case, and we know it to be so, and godliness cannot be achieved, and salvation cannot come by any other, then the judgment God will execute with His ten thousands will be broad and sweeping.

It won’t be out of spite or vindictiveness; it won’t be to prove a point; it will be because His righteous judgment demands it, and He said it would be so millennia ago.

Jude insists that those who will be judged will not be a part but the whole. He stresses that judgment will be executed on all, and all who are ungodly will be convicted of all of their ungodly deeds. Neither you nor I determine what ungodliness is, just as it is not you or I who determine what godliness is.

God determines it all, from who is godly to who is ungodly to what the metric of judgment will be. From those who mocked Him, thinking there would be no repercussions, to those who committed ungodly deeds in ungodly ways, choosing to bypass repentance because their sin was more precious to them than the blood of Christ, all will be judged and convicted, not by the ultimate power in the universe, but by the One who spoke the universe into being. That He also happens to be the supreme power in the universe is nothing to scoff at, either.

Given that everyone always wants to remind us how much God loves us, and He does, we tend to forget who God is. We focus so much on His love that we relegate His power, authority, and omnipotence to some far corner of our minds, rarely, if ever, considering these truths.

If men think they can play games with God, they’ve got another thing coming. If men believe that if they obfuscate and pretend long enough, God will be tricked into granting them entrance into heaven, the day His judgment will be executed will be frightening.

If the god you serve is made up of only the attributes, your flesh approves of, like love and mercy, then by definition, you serve a god of your own creation. If you’ve ever had someone quote the Bible to you and your first reaction was to wag your finger and insist that your god would never do that, then perhaps your god wouldn’t, but the God of the Bible would.

The worship of idols is not a new thing, far from it, but the worship of idols while pretending to worship the One True God is a phenomenon only recently encountered.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, August 18, 2023

Bullet Points II

 Although, for the most part, the clouds without water are a danger only to themselves, they tend to try and influence other clouds without water once the winds shift and they are carried about.

They’re the ones that always start a conversation with, ‘Did you hear about what’s happening in such and such a place? Did you hear about the new move, the new outpouring, the new thing God is doing, having replaced the old thing that worked perfectly well for two thousand years?’

That’s the thing about the new thing; it’s never better than the old thing. It’s never as Scriptural as the old thing, and it doesn’t have the staying power of the old thing. Why would I want the new thing again? Just because it’s new? So was Myspace once upon a time. Just because something is new, it doesn’t make it better. It just makes it new.

Granted, most people today have the maturity level of a teething toddler, so shiny new things are akin to catnip, but the argument is valid, and it stands the test of objective logic.

A lot of new things have come and gone while the old thing has remained. The one difference between the old thing and the new things is that the old thing is anchored in the truth. It is anchored in the Word and remains steadfast throughout the shifting winds, the roiling seas, and the battering storms.

The late autumn trees without fruit are more nefarious than the clouds without water because they pretend to be something they are not. They’re hoping no one notices they haven’t produced any fruit, that they’ll get a pass due to their leafy branches or flowery words, but alas, no fruit means no fruit, or worse still, bad fruit means bad fruit.

You can mask the taste of bad fruit only for so long. No matter how often you insist it’s a strawberry, a lemon is still a lemon. A lie is still a lie, no matter how often they insist it’s the truth.

The tragedy is that many who don’t know any better look at the late autumn trees without fruit and attempt to mimic them, thinking that’s what a fruitful tree should look like. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, wherein one fruitless tree convinces another that being fruitless is the natural way of things, and so they go about their existence contentedly and without the desire to be fruitful.

The raging waves of the sea foaming up their own shame are the immoral among God’s people who have no desire to shed their immorality but attempt to convince everyone else that their fallen state is acceptable unto God.

You may be able to fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool God any of the time. God knows what He said, how He said it, and when He said it, and for anyone to insist otherwise is foolishness itself. God isn’t some aging politician that barely remembers his own name. He’s not suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss, or any other malady.

The sad reality is that the raging waves Jude speaks of, who foam up their own shame, love their sin more than they love God and, because of this, will not repent of it. They would rather pretend at loving God and indulging in their sin than break ties with their sin so that they might truly know the love of God.

For the most part, these are very angry people because of their unending inner struggles. They know they should leave sin behind. They know they should deny themselves and pick up their crosses, but their flesh will not allow it, for to allow such a thing would be to lose control, and that’s something the flesh is very keen on not doing.

The last thing the flesh wants is for you to know life, to know freedom, to know light, and joy and peace and fulfillment outside of its purview. This is why Jesus must set us free, for whom the Son sets free is free indeed, and once He steps into the frame, the flesh can no longer exert control.

One cry for help, one hand raised out of the muck and mire is all it takes, and He will pull you to shore, clean you up, make you new, make you whole, give you purpose and meaning and hope beyond this life into the next for all eternity.

Last on the list are the wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness is reserved forever. The danger of the wandering stars is that most expect them to be in fixed positions, in perpetuity. During the time Jude penned his letter, men throughout used the stars to navigate and make their way through the world, whether by land or sea. If the stars by which you set your course wander to and fro, if you are perpetually uncertain of your path, then you can never be surefooted or confident about where you’re headed.

It is because these wandering stars provoke uncertainty that leads to doubt that their judgment is so final and absolute. There’s no nice way of interpreting having the blackness of darkness reserved for you forever; there just isn’t.

As John Newton once wrote, through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

Jude wrote of the dangers not to scare or terrify us but to make us aware of their existence and compel us to be watchful. We know that He will lead us home. All we need to do is humbly follow after Him.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Bullet Points

 It’s astounding how much fat you can trim when you really try. When you don’t have a minimum word count set by your publisher or aren’t trying to seem overly pedantic, you can cut to the chase, get to the point, and say the hard things that need saying quickly and unapologetically.

Because we are living in the days when coffee cups need a ‘HOT’ label, and cardboard pizza boxes have ‘Do Not Eat This Box’ stenciled across their front, certain metaphors, parables, and instructions found within the pages of Scripture require a more finite explanation than just calling someone a cloud without water, or a late autumn tree without fruit.

The more I look around nowadays, the more I understand what Paul was trying to say to Timothy. Even though I’ll never be mistaken for a glad-hander or a people person, I study people and have been for the better part of four decades. Ever since I could remember, I have been fascinated by what made people tick, by what animated them, by what made them smile, and cry, and laugh and scream, and most of all, by the need to understand why they did what they did.

Being that I’ve seen enough of the dark side of humanity to make me perpetually skittish and situationally aware, one thing I’ve noticed over the last few years is that everyone is busy doing nothing and doing their best to live in a bubble of their own making with as little human interaction as possible.

If you ever have the chance to use public transport, just look around and see how many people are wearing headphones, earbuds, or some sort of contraption to block out the noise or the words of others. Chances are you’d hit close to 90%, and those that still like to hear the sounds of the world around them are usually most of the way through the twilight of their lives.

All those people with the wireless buds likely to cause brain cancer in a decade or two are listening to something. Sure, most of them are listening to music, you know, the good stuff like Hillsong, Alabama, the Gaithers, or REO Speedwagon, but some of them are learning. Podcasts, audiobooks, courses on everything from how to find a wife to how to turn your passion for doggy pompadours into a business, self-help seminars, the unabridged version of Ulysses, everyone’s learning all the time yet getting dumber by the day.

We’ve become dependent on gadgets to tell us where to go, how to get there, how far to walk, and how much to eat. There’s even an app that reminds people to drink water. That used to be a natural byproduct of thirst, but who can trust their bodies to tell them they need fluids anymore?

Everyone knows everything about everything, and everyone has an opinion of how it could have been done differently, faster, better, or more streamlined. The Y-shaped hot dot never took off because the Hebrew National people killed the tech before it could get off the ground. It couldn’t be because it was a dumb idea.

Jude dispenses with the hand-holding and, within the span of two verses, identifies the rogues' gallery of those within the household of faith that would seek to do it harm. Yes, there is more than one type of individual trying to do harm, and each has its vested interest in why they are doing it.

The worst by far are the devil’s agents who have infiltrated the church, hoping to corrupt, defile, and turn God's grace into lewdness. Ones such as these are not acting out of ignorance or some misplaced sense of nobility; they are ungodly men who were long ago marked out for condemnation.

Besides these, you have the clouds without water, which are the unstable and easily swayed among God’s people, those carried about by the winds and believing whatever the heresy du jour happens to be that particular week. They go from ‘Jesus is the only way’ to ‘Is Jesus the only way?’ in the blink of an eye simply because a middle-aged woman with a perpetual weight problem brought it up on television.

Clouds without water will love you one day and hate you the next because they are not anchored in the truth, so everything is situational to them. They tend to gravitate to where the cool kids are, only to be dismayed by the vapid emptiness of their ministrations. That’s the thing. Even clouds without water carried about by the winds are bothered by other clouds without water who insist that they are the vehicle by which the latter rain will descend upon the earth.

Can we dial back the pomposity a smidgeon? Can we just be about the Father’s business without declaring that we’re neck in neck with Jesus for the most important person ever spot? It’s getting tiresome. It’s like seeing a movie where the hero is on a quest to save humanity for the hundredth time. Nowadays, it’s not even humanity anymore; that’s not big enough. It must be universes and the existence of all life anywhere in the cosmos!

You’re a dude filming himself in his basement with his iPhone 6. A little perspective goes a long way, Bishop, Apostle, Prophet, Seer of all the unseen realms that you are. Maybe spare the mirror a look, and do as the good Book instructs and wash yourself and make yourself clean once in a blue moon.

If you insist that you have the most critical job in the Kingdom and spend your days trying to convince everyone else of it, chances are the kingdom is your own, and you are its only inhabitant.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.