Tuesday, October 31, 2023


 James 1:9-11, “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.”

You can become rich but at the expense of everything else. It’s one of those things in life that requires complete focus, all of your time, and a tenaciousness that would make a honey badger blush if it could.

I don’t begrudge anyone reaching for their brass ring, going for gold, pushing the envelope, trying to get the whole pie and not just a slice, as long as they’re conscious of what they’ll be giving up to achieve it.

It may sound obnoxious, but getting rich isn’t that difficult. I’m not talking about stupid rich, where you lose count of the billions, but comfortable enough not to hyperventilate at the sight of a three-digit restaurant bill. Yes, I know, we all define rich differently, but let’s just say, for the sake of this discussion, rich is having no debt and a couple of million in the bank.

Before anyone asks for a loan, I’m not secretly wealthy. I said getting rich isn’t difficult; there’s just a cost attached to it, and one I was unwilling to pay. Watching my daughters grow up, spending time with my wife, and doing the work I was called to do were more important to me than shiny cars and platinum cards. That’s just me. I chose it, and it’s neither better nor worse than anyone else's; it was just my choice.

People tend to look down on the rich until they themselves become rich, then their tune changes. If they had a moral objection to wealth, they should have rejected it in whatever form it entered their lives. Then, at least, I’d believe their disapproval was principled and not rooted in jealousy over what someone else has.

It’s why Socialism looks good on paper but is impossible to implement. Who wouldn’t want across-the-board equality for everyone? You’d just be a mean old meanie if you didn’t, wouldn’t you? The problem, however, is glaringly apparent when you realize that some people are more equal than others, and those pushing for the imagined equality socialism can give them are too lazy or incompetent to apply themselves in capitalism. You’re telling me you can’t hold down a job flipping burgers, but you have the chops to make Socialism work? Thanks, pudding. I think I’ll stick to what we’ve got, imperfect as it might be.

Being equally miserable is not the equality they’re trying to sell, but it’s the equality you’re going to get. There will always be someone who will want more than their neighbor, whether it’s a bigger house, a fancier car, or a nicer meat smoker.

Contrary to what some have claimed, James wasn’t looking his nose down on the rich, nor was he condemning their possession of wealth. He was criticizing the single-minded pursuit of acquiring possessions at the expense of everything else that makes life worth living. It’s sad when you come to the end of a lonely road only to realize that your destination wasn’t all you imagined it to be.

We see it in the culture around us: the upwardly mobile who have no time for God, marriage, children, or family, driven by the singular desire for the next promotion, and by the time they wake up to the reality that their life is passing them by, it’s too late. You’re in your mid-fifties with a heart murmur, your closest friend is your housekeeper, and all you have to show for a life of business lunches, red-eye flights, and power suits is a parking space closer to the office building that’s bled all your best years away.

We are all given the gift of time; what we do with it is of individual concern. What do we spend our lives pursuing? What are we willing to sacrifice everything else for to obtain? If it’s anything of this earth, if it’s anything material, if it’s anything that can be stolen, or rusts, or depreciates in value the moment you drive it off the lot, perhaps it’s time to reassess priorities and determine if they’re a bit wonky and off-kilter.

Is it really worth getting the stuff you’ve always wanted if you can’t look at yourself in the mirror afterward? Is the pursuit of the material worth sacrificing the spiritual? I’m not trying to be mean; these are just honest questions we have to ask ourselves unless we become enamored by trinkets and baubles that do nothing to satisfy us in the long term.

Is it worth sacrificing your convictions, your ethics, and your morals for a few extra bucks in the bank? Some people thought it was, but by the time they figured out it wasn’t, it was already too late. The train had left the station, the ship had sailed, the deed had been done, and all they had left to contend with was a steaming pile of regret.

James tells us it shouldn’t matter. Your social standing, financial well-being, clout, or influence should not define you. Your identity cannot be anything that possessions, positions, or people can influence. If you are of Christ, then your identity is in Him, and if your identity is in Him, then though you might be lowly, glory in your exaltation.

No, I’m not about to quote Hillsong, but you know the lyrics all the same. If a poor man who does not have Christ says he is rich, he is just delusional. If, however, he does have Christ, when he says he is rich, he is rich indeed.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, October 30, 2023


 The quickest way to remain spiritually stunted is to lack faith. The absence of faith acts as a dam blocking the path of all that God has for you. It is a barrier that can only be removed by applying faith, and once faith is applied when you ask for wisdom, it is yours for the taking, just as James said it would be. He didn’t say there was a good chance, a possibility, or a probability that God would grant you the wisdom you ask for. He said if you ask it in faith, He will give it to you liberally and without reproach.

For those who like probability matrixes, there is a 100% guaranteed outcome of receiving what you ask for. Even though the adage about nothing being guaranteed in life but death and taxes has been bouncing around for a while, you can add a third thing to the list, which is God giving you wisdom if you ask for it in faith. There is a reservoir of promises waiting to be accessed, and the only thing that can access it is true and unwavering faith.

It is only with eyes of faith that we can analyze whatever God allows to come into our lives through the prism of His will rather than our own physical comfort or desire for earthly things. The shift in perspective is usually all that is required for us to understand that God’s heart is for us, and His desire is to mold us, perfect us, and make us whole and complete.

The tragedy of it all is that what we usually ask for is paltry compared to what we can ask for in faith. Why would you ask for something as fleeting and corruptible as earthly possessions when you can ask for wisdom? Every time we ask God for something of finite value in lieu of the priceless virtues on offer, we reveal our spiritual immaturity.

Once we reach a certain level of maturity, we begin to ask for the things we know will carry us through the dark days, when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and all that will remain will be unshakable. We’re still playing games even though we are at war, and the longer we delay our understanding of the times we are living in, the easier it will be for the enemy to run roughshod over us.

Spiritual growth might be painful for a season, and the testing of your faith might make the flesh bristle, but they’re nothing compared to what the enemy will do if we are found powerless and weak.

No one ever looks back on the process of their faith being tested, only to conclude that it wasn’t worth it. What the testing of your faith produces is of such value that whatever it was you had endured and persevered through is but a faded memory.

The closest thing I can compare the process to is childbirth. No, I’ve never given birth; I'm still traditional about that one, but I was there when my wife gave birth not once but twice. Yes, there were grimaces, grunts, hand-holding, and enough pain to go around, but once the babies were delivered, once they were placed on her chest, it was as if all the pain was forgotten. Sometimes trials feel like they will never end, or that they’re so painful we will never get through them, but then, one day, it ceases, it ends, it has a culmination, and we come to realize we did survive it, get through it, and are the stronger for it.

No matter who tries to convince you that you don’t need faith to obtain wisdom from God, they are lying and have no knowledge of what the Word of God says. It can’t be stated any simpler than that. If the Word of God says one thing, but men insist upon another, it’s man who is wrong, not the Word of God.

Everyone’s looking for shortcuts, cheat codes, ways, and means to skip a level or five and just get to the end of the journey without making the journey, but there is no way around it. Throughout this journey called life, we make choices. We choose to be faithful; we choose to be obedient; we choose to endure; we choose to focus on our faith and grow it to the point that it opens the floodgates of God’s blessings. We choose what we ask God for, we choose what we do with what He gives us, and we choose how we react to the testing of our faith.

With every choice we make, we either grow, remain stagnant, or shrink. Our choices either glorify God and feed our spiritual man or feed the flesh. The one you feed consistently will grow in strength until it can subjugate the other. If you feed your spiritual man consistently, it will overcome the flesh. If you feed your flesh, it will stifle your spiritual man.

God’s promises are still valid; they have not changed, just as He has not changed. We can still approach Him in faith, and He will be faithful to give us the wisdom we seek liberally, meaning that it won’t be a bite-sized portion of wisdom but an entire buffet.

Wth love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, October 28, 2023


 It’s human nature to cling to the promises and dismiss the warnings. Some even go so far as to pretend there were no warnings, to begin with, and so all they have is promises, positive affirmations, encouraging tidbits, and dreams of binding, loosing, declaring, and ruling with a rod of iron. If anyone dares bring up the conditionality of specific promises or that there must be a balance because the Word is explicit regarding the need for it, you’re usually met with anger, resentment, and accusations of being a wet blanket, a party pooper, a stick in the mud, and those are just the nice names.

Because by the time James wrote his epistle, he’d reached a certain level of spiritual maturity, he encouraged his readers to ask God for wisdom if they lacked it but also warned that if they failed to ask in faith, they would receive nothing from the Lord.

James 1:6-8, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

James is not trying to be mean or offend anyone by telling them they will not receive anything from the Lord if they do not ask in faith; he’s just stating a fact. We’ve adopted so many bad habits from those of the world, but I think being easily offended by the Word of God is head and shoulders above the rest as the worst possible thing we could have embraced.

The argument of the easily offended isn’t that they reject the Bible because it got something wrong or that a verse is factually inaccurate, but that it hurt their feelings and made them feel awkward. It’s not so much that they’re lukewarm, but that they got called out for being lukewarm that bothers them so.

There is a cottage industry both in the world and in the church that caters to people who will pay to be protected from the truth. It’s how we managed to rebrand obesity and call it body positivity and transform whoredom into female empowerment. That’s the thing that gets me; these people so eager to stroke your ego and tell you what you want to hear never stick around long enough to see the collateral damage of their enablement. They’re not there to see the body-positive person they told didn’t need to cut back on the baker’s dozen pizza orders stroke out or have a heart attack. They’re not there to see the impressionable young women they encouraged to give themselves away like they were about to spoil, spiral into depression, and lose the ability to pair bond because physical intimacy became transactional rather than emotional.

Joel Osteen won’t be there to hold your hand when you realize that every day’s not a Sunday, and if this is your best life, you’d hate to see what an average one looks like. Creflo Dollar won’t be there to offer his shoulder for you to cry on when you realize that all the money in the world isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if you don’t have the joy of Christ in your heart and your focus does not extend beyond this present life.

Enablers enable, but they never take responsibility for the messes they make by enabling things they know they shouldn’t.

James doesn’t beat around the bush or try to qualify his statement. As far as he is concerned, he’s stating a fact: if you do not have faith, you are double-minded and unstable in all your ways.

Faith anchors you in the truth. It keeps you from being blown about to and fro with every doctrinal wind that passes through a given denomination. Once you understand that the wave doesn’t go where it wants to go but where the wind directs it, you begin to see the importance of having a sure foundation and being anchored in the Word of God.

It doesn’t mean the wind won’t try to blow you off course, and it doesn’t mean you won’t be buffeted; it just means you will be unmoved when it does. You know the difference between one who has faith and one who doesn’t in the midst of the maelstrom. Those with faith will retain their composure; they will be surefooted and stable. Those without faith will run to and fro, giving heed to every doctrine that offers them a means of escape.

Our focus ought not to be whether what James said regarding those without faith was nice; rather, it should be if it was true. He called me unstable. How dare he? Well, are you? He wasn’t lying, it wasn’t calumny, and you shouldn’t be angry with the man. He was just stating a fact and, in doing so, hoping those with a desire to walk in righteousness and not just get away with pretending to would take the necessary measures to remedy their situation.

You can choose not to be a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. You can choose not to be a double-minded, unstable man. Still, to do that, you must embrace the truth of God’s word and reject the enablers in your life who are loitering about waiting for the opportunity to ingratiate themselves and insist that you’re perfect just the way you are when the Bible says you’re far from it.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, October 27, 2023

In Faith

 I was newly married when I thought I wanted to get in shape for whatever reason. I went and got a gym membership at the local YMCA and didn’t go back for a solid two months. Life got the way life gets. We were looking for a new place to move to because my then-new wife wasn’t a fan of all the mice that came to say hi every morning, I was also traveling a lot at the time, so there were reasons.

Fast forward two months, and I finally find a couple of hours when I have nothing to do and no one vying for my time, so I decided to go to the gym. The same lady who signed me up was there to scan me in, and I guess I’d left an impression because she remembered me.

When she asked me how I was doing and how my workout plan was going, I deadpan answered that I’d been at it for two whole months, and I’d only lost thirteen ounces.

Not missing a beat, she looked me in the eyes and said, “Baby steps are perfectly fine as long as you’re headed in the right direction.”

I held it together until I got around the corner and then broke down laughing. I never did find out if she was being serious or just giving it back as good as she got.

Twenty-two years and two kids later, I still remember that lady’s homespun wisdom. Yes, we’ve been married for twenty-three years, but the first year was spent trying to get my wife a green card and a visa to come to this land of dreams so she could experience her toes nibbled on by mice. It’s one of the reasons I’m a proponent of legal immigration, but that’s another story for another time.

Our progress through the Epistle of James might seem slow, but we are headed in the right direction. If something needs to be mined, then it needs to be mined. If we need to deepen our understanding of a passage, then it’s worth taking the time to make sure we don’t have to return to it and wonder what it meant.

I don’t like dealing with something more than once. If I go to the store and come home with groceries, I don’t take everything out of the bag, put it on the counter, and then find its rightful place in the pantry or the fridge. It goes directly from the bag to the place it’s supposed to be without a pit stop in between. I approach Biblical text in much the same fashion. Focus on one chapter or verse until it’s clear, then move on to the next.

If you’ve asked for wisdom and have not received it, perhaps you are missing one indispensable ingredient. James wasn’t trying to pull some spiritual version of sleight of hand or mislead anyone because on the heels of informing those who read his letter that they could ask God for wisdom and He would give it without reproach, he went on to clarify that they needed to do it in faith.

Just asking God without doing so in faith, fully confident, and believing you will receive the wisdom for which you are petitioning Him will do nothing more than bounce your voice around your room or prayer closet for a bit.

James 1:6-7, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

We come back to the reality of how indispensable faith is in the life of a believer and the truth that faith is built up in us and does not appear fully formed on the first day of our walk. Faith is matured in the believer over time and continues to expand and be fleshed out so that the thing you believe for today is greater than what you believed for yesterday.

It doesn’t take a lot of faith to ask God for wisdom and get it, but it requires some. If a mustard seed’s worth of faith can move mountains, then it’s likely less than a mustard seed is required for you to receive the wisdom you asked God for.

The broader lesson, and one that James likely deemed so obvious as to not even mention, is that as believers, we must prioritize the essential things first before anything else. One of those things is faith. Whether it’s Jude telling us to build up our most holy faith or James reminding us that it takes faith to move the heart of God, it is a necessity in the life of the spiritual man, just as much as oxygen is necessary for the physical man. Your flesh might rejoice in your faith not being tested, but your spiritual man does not.

You won’t get far without faith. You can’t grow your faith without it being tested and stretched. Your faith cannot mature in a vacuum or a cocoon wherein no hardships are ever endured, and no pressure is ever applied.

If you’ve ever wondered why those living in nations where Christianity is deemed criminal and believers are persecuted seem to have a greater faith than those who lip-sing Hillsong out of boredom every other Sunday, hoping the service ends early enough so they don’t have to stand in line at the Old Country Buffet, now you know.

They have more faith because their faith is tested more. Their faith is stronger, more robust, and able to believe for greater things from God because it’s constantly being exercised, stretched, and compelled to grow.

Your circumstances will not shrink to accommodate your faith. Your faith must grow to overcome them.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Thursday, October 26, 2023


 It takes a bit of wisdom, humility, and self-awareness to realize you need wisdom. The fact that one acknowledges their need for more of it presupposes one possesses enough of it to realize their insufficiency in that area.

Some people just don’t have any wisdom to spare. Not even enough to acknowledge their need for it. If you’ve ever had the guilty pleasure of watching an epic fail video, or someone trying to run across a barely frozen lake only to fall through the ice halfway through, or someone who thought it was a good idea to tease any given animal at the zoo by sticking their face between the bars, you know some people can’t be helped in this world. The same goes for some in the church who are so set in their ways and cemented in their beliefs that though what they believe is contrary to scripture, they will hold to their position with a Charlton Heston type of death grip.

The genuinely ignorant are always proud of their ignorance. Not only do they not realize they need wisdom, they will not entertain the possibility that they might be wrong and the word of God is right. The idea that they could be mistaken is anathema to them, and they’re willing to call everyone a liar as long as they can continue to see themselves in the right.

Whenever they are called out, those needing wisdom but being unwilling to admit to it will lash out and accuse those pointing to the truth of scripture of judging and go on about the beam versus the speck. Leaving your wheelchair-bound wife for a woman half your age when no adultery was had is not a speck, my guy, no matter how you try to justify it.

When statistically speaking, pastors have the same divorce rate as those of the world, there’s a serious problem everyone’s pretending doesn’t exist because to confront it head-on would be to upset the apple cart, and for now, it’s just too lucrative to take that risk. It’s not about what’s Biblical, what’s ethical, moral, virtuous, or noble; it’s about what’s most lucrative at any given moment.

We make excuses for the inexcusable because it’s a way of justifying our own shortcomings. If a guy who’s supposed to be a prophet to the nations, gut puncher extraordinaire, can divorce and remarry just because she’s a newer model and is enamored with his spiritual mantle to the point of idolizing him, why can’t elder Bob or Deacon Eddie? Why can’t the guy who collects the offering on Sunday mornings, for that matter? You can’t expect the private to be more moral than the colonel, can you?

The lower we set the standard for those we deem in spiritual authority over us, the more of a license we think we have to live lukewarm, duplicitous lives. That’s why they are indulged. That’s why they are defended. That’s why they are allowed to continue pretending to be ministers of the gospel.

If God can make the rocks cry out, why would He settle for someone who thinks so little of Him that they disregard His instruction to be His mouthpiece? It’s a reasonable question, don’t you think? Yet, somehow, these are the same people who never ask for wisdom, who never self-assess, who have to be forced to take some time away from ministry because there’s too much heat in the kitchen, and the offerings are drying up.

James is focusing on those with sincere hearts who desire to grow, mature, press in, be perfected, and be complete. He is not, as yet, addressing the grifters, the cutouts, the foils, and the individuals who figure ministry is a lot easier than roofing in Florida in July.

It’s the reason I’ve always believed that the most effective ministers, preachers, pastors, or evangelists aren’t those who pop out of seminary mills every four years but rather those who were called by God and had no choice but to obey. It’s those who were hesitant about it because they knew the sacrifice it entailed. It's those who don’t see it as a career but a calling.

I’m not besmirching education by any means. There is a place for it, and certain careers require it, but as far as ministry is concerned, I believe you learn a lot more looking at it as a trade, where you apprentice and get discipled rather than sit in a classroom and hear some non-binary blue haired dude in a dress drone on about how God’s perfectly fine with expressions of hedonism and perversion because He knows the heart.  

Between shelling out fifty grand for a four-year degree from a seminary and volunteering at an orphanage in Africa, do the latter, and you’ll grow more than you would have had you done the former. I may not be an English professor, but even I can spot the difference between go and do and sit and learn.

Both Jude and James put the onus on the individual and their personal responsibility to initiate. Whether it’s knocking, seeking, or asking for wisdom, it is we who must ask that we might receive. God will not force wisdom upon you, but if you are wise enough to acknowledge you lack it, ask it of God, who gives it liberally and without reproach.

What this means is that God will never turn you away. He will not make you feel less than or unworthy if you ask for wisdom. He won’t call you a dummy and give you a wet willy, comparing you to others and decrying your aptitude; He gives wisdom without reproach. He is still Father, and you are still son and daughter, and it is His joy to see you yearn for more of Him.

That’s the beauty of all this: if you ask for wisdom, God will give it, and in the wisdom you are given, you discover Him more fully. True wisdom always leads to the foot of the cross.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2023


 ome things do what they’re supposed to do if you let them be. A preheated oven at 400 degrees will make perfectly edible chicken drumsticks in about forty-five minutes every time. The only thing you need to concern yourself with is whether you marinate them, dry rub them, get fancy and buy a shake-n-bake kit, or stay simple and use a bit of salt and pepper.

My girls like the crispy skin, so I’ll brush some avocado oil on them, not because I’m fancy but because avocado oil has a high smoke point, then use my ultra-secret combination of herbs and spices I bought in a giant tub at Costco that will last me well into the apocalypse. They’re exclusively for poultry; it says so on the tub, and it’s not like the fine folks at Kirkland Brand have any reason to lie.

For anyone not an avid Costco customer, the previous paragraph made no sense whatsoever, but you can’t please everyone all the time, and that’s just the reality of it all. Pro tip: if you consume more than a pound of baked beans in one sitting, or you have a family with which to share the bounty, Costco is a legit money saver.

The secret to crispy, well-done chicken drumsticks is once you put them in the oven, leave them alone. Let the oven do its thing, set a timer or an alarm, and go about making the mashed potatoes, sweet potato wedges, steamed broccoli if you’ve lost your taste buds in a horrible mouth-related accident, or whatever you serve as a side. If you keep opening the oven to check and see if it’s doing what it’s always done, your forty-five minutes are likely to turn into an hour-plus.

I know what you’re thinking: Use the oven light! That burned out a couple of years back. I just haven’t made the time to replace it. The point I’m trying to make is twofold. First, some things just can’t be rushed unless you’re willing to roll the dice on salmonella. Second, let the mechanism you’ve employed carry out whatever task it needs to do so without intervening or trying to sneak a peek every thirty seconds.

James 1:4, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

If the goal you have in mind is to be perfect, complete, and lacking nothing, then you have no choice but to let patience have its perfect work. When James says we must let patience do its thing, it implies both consent and acquiescence to what it needs to do in you. Letting patience have its perfect work in you is a choice you must make once you’ve attained it via the testing of your faith.

Yes, some people stop halfway to the finish line. They get distracted, tired, and disillusioned that it’s taking longer than they thought it would. They go through the trial and the testing, and they obtain patience, then they refuse to let it have its perfect work, never attaining wholeness.

It’s akin to purchasing a gym membership, buying workout clothing, setting your alarm for five a.m., waking up, and deciding not to go after all. You wasted the money, lost the sleep, and have nothing to show for it when all is said and done.

The purpose of obtaining patience is not just bragging about possessing it but also what it does in us once we’ve obtained it. The goal is for you to be perfect and complete, lacking nothing, not just to have it for the sake of having it. For this to occur, it requires time, and given what the outcome will be, it is well worth the wait.

As is always the case, there is a difference between theory and practice. Between reading the words and following through, acting on them, and coming to the place where we count it all joy. What if we can’t make the leap? What if we can’t bring ourselves to see it the way James says we should? Unsurprisingly, the Bible has the answer.

James 1:5, “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

There is no judgment in James’s counsel. He doesn’t belittle anyone, nor does he come off as superior to those to whom he is writing. In the manner of one who, perhaps, lacked wisdom at some point in his life, he encourages those who lack wisdom to ask God for it, and He will give it liberally and without reproach.

He doesn’t say we should ask God for confirmation of whether or not we should count it all joy when we go through various trials, but rather for wisdom so that we can see the reality of the good God is working in us as we go through them. It is an important distinction because many today have the tendency to wander into the territory of tempting God, repeatedly asking for clarification for something they already know the answer to, just hoping they get a different one in the end.

You’re not going to get God to change His mind on the issues He’s already established in His Word. He won’t suddenly go back on His word and edit His commands just because we ask Him to clarify over and over again. Those who willfully tempt God fail to understand that He knows the innermost heart of man, and nothing is hidden from His sight. You’re not that good an actor, and he’s not impressed nor impressionable.

As Paul reminds the Hebrews, all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. For some, that’s a scary proposition, even if they don’t yet know it.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, October 23, 2023


 There is a difference between being joyful and counting it as joy. It matters because some people take the verse to mean one thing while it means another, and then they beat themselves into the dirt because they can’t bring themselves to smile through the tears or to laugh when the situation calls for mourning.

James 1:2-3, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

That’s what the verse says! God does not expect us to be robots, automatons, or drones going to and fro without feeling or emotion. If you have occasion to laugh, laugh. If you have occasion to cry, cry. Grieve, lament, mourn, weep, do the things that come naturally as a direct reaction to something that’s happening in your life.

If you accidentally stab yourself in the thigh, scream. Don’t put on a fake smile that’s something between a cringe and the face you make when you smell a rotten egg, pretending that you were unaffected by the knife in your leg.

Because some believe they are supposed to exhibit joy in their trials, they close themselves off from being vulnerable with fellow believers and sharing hardship or asking for prayer because others might deem them weak and unseasoned.

The difference between counting something as joy and being joyful is that even though a situation is painful, you know the outcome is positive and beneficial. When James encourages us to count it all joy, he speaks to how we react to the trials and the mindset we ought to possess while going through them. He is not referring to an emotional reaction you might have amid the trial but the overall mindset you should possess through it.

A few years back, I went to the funeral of a friend who’d left a wife and two little girls behind. During our conversation, after asking my friend’s widow if she needed anything, she began rubbing her eyes and said, “I know I’m not supposed to cry, but I just can’t help it.”

“Who said you’re not supposed to cry?” I asked her. “Who could possibly fault you for shedding tears for the passing of the father of your children and the man you built a family with?”

Apparently, an elder in the church had offered her the piece of unsolicited advice, and she’d taken it to heart. Even Jesus wept. He didn’t go skipping through the rose garden as the time drew near; He went off to pray and cried tears of blood.

We can’t be sloppy about the Word of God or the intended meaning thereof. By doing so, we put burdens on people who already have a bowed back and are just looking for a bit of encouragement, a little light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

We can either be the person who helps heal the wound or the person who jams their finger into it, trying to see how deep it goes. Yes, you can stand on the truth of Scripture, call things for what they are, and still have empathy and compassion for someone’s struggle or situation. The two are not mutually exclusive, and Jesus clearly showed us this.

He had compassion on those who came to Him but did not fail in telling them to go and sin no more. We cannot be so compassionate that we fail to call people to repentance. We cannot be so empathetic that we gloss over sins that should be abandoned, forsaken, and repented of.

Although we are rarely joyful in our trials, we can count them as joy, knowing what they will produce and how necessary it is for our spiritual well-being. By all means, feel your feelings, but do not be guided or influenced by them. Do not allow your emotions to pull you away from obedience or the mindset that God knows what He is doing.

If we give in to feelings, they have a way of spiraling, wherein sadness turns into resentment, resentment turns into bitterness, bitterness turns into hatred, and given enough time, all that remains is a ball of rage looking for an outlet, for someone to blame, and someone to scapegoat for all the decisions we made along the way that were based on feelings and emotions rather than the Word and will of God.

Too many today blame God for their bad choices, their ill-conceived decisions, and their lives in general, even though they never once asked for His input or queried what His will was for their lives.

You’re the one in the driver’s seat, deciding to turn left or right, ignoring your GPS, thinking you know better. If you end up driving off the end of a peer, you can’t blame your car or GPS; you can only blame yourself.

God is explicit regarding what we can do and what we can’t, which path we should take and which path we shouldn’t, but if we ignore His Word, if we pay no heed to His voice, and we end up somewhere we never wanted to be, it’s not His fault.

Thankfully, while you have breath, there’s still time to put it in reverse, go back to where you last heard His instruction, repent for your rebellion, and humbly pursue obedience, doing what He says, with full assurance that He knows the end from the beginning and is with you every step of the way.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, October 22, 2023


 Art may imitate life, but real life is not like the movies. The good guys don’t always win, the nice guy doesn’t always get the girl, and the story doesn’t wrap up in a bow with all the loose ends properly tied off in ninety minutes or less.

In real life, the good guy sometimes bleeds out next to a dumpster in an alley because he tried to help someone and got a knife in the belly as a thank you. In real life, there’s no last-minute miracle cure for the one you love, and you have to say goodbye for a while. In real life, people aren’t always noble or kind, and the lengths to which one human will go to hurt another beggars belief. I’m not even referring to strangers. I’m referring to people who took vows and promised to love and cherish the person they are currently trying to systematically destroy ‘till death did them part.

It’s because this life is not a fairy tale, and no one is spared trials and hardships, that patience is a virtue most necessary. God knows this. He’s known it all along, and since the dawn of creation, He put mechanisms in place to help us along on our journey and aid us in finishing the race we began running.

Patience is the means by which God molds our mindset and character. Like many other things, patience is a needful tool God employs liberally to bring us to where He desires us to be, daily refining, daily purifying, daily chiseling away the things not conducive to spiritual growth or maturity.

Some today want heaven without a relationship with God. They want to get saved without submitting to the Savior, and so the notion of needing to have their faith tested for the testing to produce patience in them is a foreign concept.

Just tell me I’m going to heaven, silly man. That’s all you need to do. I did the thing and said the prayer, now tell me I’m going to heaven and let me go on with my life. We’re busy people and have things to do; we don’t have time for your spiritual growth, maturing, getting to know God, and submitting to His authority pabulum. We just want assurances, not a relationship. We want the benefits without the membership. If you can’t offer us that, we know a few people who will.

We are so obsessed with the here and now; we are so focused on our flesh and how we can make it most comfortable that we fail to understand that the end result of developing patience is our spiritual health and well-being. Patience leads to being whole, complete, sanctified, and lacking nothing.

Even in those days, before the advent of the duck lip selfies and the Look At Me generation, James’s affirmation that we should count it all joy when we are tried, and our faith is tested was deemed a radical departure. Although this generation’s hedonism has no equal, men’s predisposition to shield themselves from hardship and trials has always existed. It’s human nature and has been since Lot looked upon the land and chose the place that would be easiest for flesh.

The testing of your faith determines the level of patience produced in you, and the level of patience you possess determines how you react to everything around you, whether directly or indirectly. I won’t sit here and insist that my patience level has been topped off and there’s no room for any more. I still bristle at bad drivers, but it’s a passing thing that fades fast and does not linger as it once did.

Even when I was young and impulsive and had no patience to speak of, I never entertained the idea of following someone for cutting me off or making a scene because the raisin in the Hot Granny t-shirt pushed right past me at the checkout. Granted, I had a few zingers ready to fire, such as false advertising is punishable by law, but I kept them to myself. If the Lord terries, by the time I’m seventy, I will have achieved enough patience wherein I don’t even bother with the internal zingers.

The point is that you must be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. I don’t mean looking back in the Lot’s wife kind of way, where you yearn for what was, but with gratitude and thankfulness for how far God brought you along the path of sanctification. You know where you started, just as I do. I can see how far I’ve come and the benefits of the patience the testing of my faith produced in me, and I’m thankful for them.

If you look back after six months, a year, or a decade, and you realize you’re rooted in the same spot, that you have the same penchants, predisposition, proclivities, and shortcomings, then though you may have done the thing with touching your television screen, you haven’t grown, matured, or made any progress.

You are stagnant, lifeless, with moss and weeds growing around your spiritual man because there has been no movement in such a long time. It’s not because God isn’t paying you as much attention or investing as much time as in others you see growing and maturing; it’s because you’re not making the time for Him, busy with everything else but time in His presence.

It’s not harsh; it’s the truth. If we knock, He will open. If we ask, He will give. If we do not have, it’s because we have not asked. If the door has not been opened, it’s because we haven’t knocked.

You’re wrong! I ask every day. Indeed, but what is it you ask for? Is it patience, faith, grace, joy, peace, boldness, and strength, or straight teeth and a winning smile? Ask God for the things a dentist couldn’t fix for a few bucks and thirty minutes with a drill. Ask for the things only He could give; then, when He gives them, you won’t be able to credit anyone else but Him.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, October 21, 2023


 Whenever the topic of being sober-minded, rightly dividing the Word, and living a life worthy of the name of Jesus arises, there’s always bound to be someone wondering aloud as to what the harm is in letting people live the way they want. What’s the harm if they don’t go beyond that one time they raised their hand in church? What’s the harm if they don’t grow from faith to faith? They’re not hurting anyone; what’s it to you? We all see in a mirror dimly, don’t we? Why does everyone have to see the same thing? How do you know you’re right anyway?

That last one is easy. I know I’m right because all I do is echo the Bible in what it says. As long as what you say is in harmony with what the Word of God says, you can be confident that you’ve taken the correct position in any given argument. As far as what the harm is, I guess I’m just a big ole softy, and I don’t want to see people despondent and beside themselves once the storm comes and they realize they’ve built their house upon the sand.

As to how this discussion ties into the epistle of James, in order for one’s faith to be tested, one must first possess it. You must have faith for the testing thereof to produce patience in the same way you must have a car in order for the key in your hand to turn the engine and make it run.

Patience cannot be produced unless faith is present, for only if faith is present can it be tested. Yes, I am well aware that the freshly tattooed Joyce Meyer and others of her ilk have come up with the fast pass to heaven, wherein all you have to do is touch your television screen, but the question of whether or not it’s Biblical still needs to be addressed, even with running the risk of contradicting a spiritual juggernaut such as Joyce.

We felt the need to compete with the world and make it so easy to get saved that it required nothing more than a few seconds of one’s time to ensure eternity. We adopted the mantra of the customer always being right and gave the disingenuous and lukewarm what they wanted, only to be told that we should’ve known better than to give them what they wanted. What did they know of spiritual growth, maturity, faith, sanctification, or righteousness after all? They showed up expecting those they deemed mature in the faith to disciple and grow them, not acquiesce to their childish tantrums.

Before you can expect a return on your investment, you must invest. Before you can expect the testing of your faith to produce patience, you must possess faith. Faith is an ever-expanding reality in the believer’s life. It is substantive and discernible, and all that is required for you to know how much faith you possess is honesty. The problem is that we’ve gotten so accustomed to pretending we’re more spiritual than we are, and we have more faith than we do that we can’t even be honest with ourselves anymore.

We compare ourselves and our lived experiences to other people, and because we’re averse to confrontation, not only do we help perpetuate the lie by not calling someone who said they went to heaven and sat on God’s lap via a porta-potty a liar, we insist we had similar experiences so we don’t seem less spiritual. Not only are we feeding the delusions of unhinged people, but we’re not assessing where we are spiritually and, as such, take no measures to remedy our condition.

If I’m honest with myself and acknowledge I need more faith, the Bible tells me how I can get more. All I have to do is follow the instructions outlined in the Word. If I’m not honest with myself and pretend to be a giant of the faith while I’m not, then at some crucial point in my walk, I will falter.

Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

If you feel your faith is lacking, increase the time you spend in the Word. If you’re not spending time in the Word regularly, habitually, and as consistently as drinking coffee in the morning or brushing your teeth at night, start. Don’t delay; do it today, and you will see how your faith begins to increase, expand, and grow.

Faith is a prerequisite for a healthy spiritual walk. It is something we can nurture, grow, and mature, and with each new level of faith, we learn to trust God for greater things. You can make do without a new wardrobe, a better car, a bigger house, or another cat, but the same can’t be said of faith.

Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

You’d think there would be more focus on faith than prosperity in the contemporary church, given that it is impossible to please God without faith. Yet, here we are, calling money down from heaven, blathering on about having our best lives and being driven by purpose while neglecting the non-negotiable prerequisites such as faith, repentance, and righteousness.

When we finally realize the true extent of this generation’s spiritual vacuousness, we will come to understand that sackcloth and ash should be our daily attire.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Thursday, October 19, 2023


 One of the things that has tragically been forgotten and gone by the wayside in our disposable, here today, gone tomorrow, Ikea generation is the notion of craftsmanship. That someone would take half a lifetime to carve an intricate piece of teak furniture by hand is something most people under fifty would neither appreciate nor acknowledge as a remarkable feat.

I’ve always admired labors of love. Whether a piece of intricate jewelry, furniture, sconces, or art, the value of the things isn’t in the materials used but rather in the time it took to complete it and, more importantly, the hands used to do so. Is there a maker’s mark? Is there a signature? Can you tell who made it and for what purpose?

When you take away the name, a Picasso, a Rembrandt, a Monet, or a Vermeer are nothing more than an amalgam of stretched canvas and different colored oil-based paints. If you wait for the right sale, you can get a dozen canvases, a handful of brushes, and enough paint to redo the Sistine Chapel at Hobby Lobby for a few bucks. I know because I’ve done it. No, I’m not about to become the next Hunter Biden sans the crack addiction; I don’t know anyone influential enough to peddle influence and mask the bribe by selling something loosely defined as art. It’s for my girls. Rather than have them get brain rot watching television or playing video games, I turned them loose on the canvases, with the added incentive that if they tried their best, I’d buy some of their art for cash.

It worked even better than I expected, and now, everywhere you look, art abounds. So what makes my daughter's art worth the five bucks I give them, and a Vermeer a few million, and that’s if you can find it? Short answer: the name of the individual who took the time to paint it and the reputation attached to said name.

Unknown artists are just that: unknown. They may be good, perhaps even better than some listed artists, but because they haven’t proven themselves over the long term, they have yet to garner a reputation that would increase the perceived value of their art.

As an aside, art is the only niche technology hasn’t been able to ruin because taste is subjective. Although you can google what an Apple watch sells for, or a toaster oven for that matter, you can’t put a price on a piece of art you fall in love with. It may be worthless to the person trying to sell it, but priceless to you because you see something in it the other person does not. Whether the color combinations, the theme, the brush strokes, or the overall esthetics, something speaks to you when it remains silent for everyone else. There’s a sermon or at least a teachable analogy in there somewhere, but you can figure it out without me getting pedantic about it.

We know that patience has value because God is willing to allow us to undergo testing to produce it in us. Not every test or trial is painless; few rarely are, but none are pointless. As the canvas upon which the Master Artist is painting, we may not see the purpose of a brushstroke here or a color choice there until it all comes together in the end, and you see it for what it was always meant to be.

If today you do not see the purpose or the good that can come out of a trial you’re going through, give it some time, and you will. Time allows us to see more clearly and understand what the individual moments were leading up to.

When I was young, I used to sneak over to the neighbor’s house and watch Bob Ross. I know, edgy even back then. I didn’t have a canvas, or paints, or brushes, but I was fascinated by the idea that in thirty or so minutes, a man could go from making a few marks with a brush here and there to having a fully fleshed-out landscape.

If he didn’t tell you what he was planning to paint, you never could have guessed based on the first few minutes of seemingly pointless brushstrokes. You had to take it on faith that Bob was telling you the truth when he said he would paint towering peaks, even though they looked nothing like any sort of peaks you’d ever seen.

If you believed Bob, why can’t you believe God? If God says He wants to perfect you through trials and that they produce patience, why kick against the goads until you’re forced to putz around in a mobility scooter?

Bob knew what he was doing even though it didn’t seem like it to me at the time. God knows what He is doing even though it may not seem like it to you at the time.

Isaiah 45:9, “Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, “What are you making?” Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?”

Sometimes, the road is hard. Sometimes, there seems to be no end to the climb. Sometimes, we’re exhausted and tired and feel like giving up, but every journey with a beginning has an end. Every race has a finish line, and if you start, then finish and finish well.

In most cases, you have no choice but to go through. You can’t push pause on a trial; you can’t skip to the next episode or the next chapter; you have to go through it because this is life, and there’s no fast-forward button. Knowing that God is with you every step of the way and that the trial you’re going through will produce something of value in you is no small thing. You’re not done yet; He’s still painting, even if it’s just the finishing touches.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2023


 Obedience is a choice, as is the speed with which we obey. You may hear “This is the way, walk in it” whenever you turn to the left or the right, but then you have to choose to obey His voice and not follow your heart, your eyes, the whispering voices, or the glittering fool’s gold strewn about. God can’t force you to obey. He can, however, inform you of the consequences of disobedience if that’s the avenue you choose to pursue.

Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

The dreaded ‘IF’ strikes again. It doesn’t say He will kick your door in, tie you to a chair, and force you to sit at the head of the table while He spoon-feeds and entertains you. Nor does it say He’s going to bum rush you and force you to have a relationship with Him whether you like it or not. God doesn’t commit assault, nor does He practice breaking and entering. He knocks, and if you open the door, He will come in and dine with you.

Forced obedience is no obedience at all; it’s compliance. It’s what bank tellers do when someone waves a gun in their face and demands all the cash in the till; they comply. If given the opportunity, they’ll push the alarm button or get away from the man waving the gun. They’re not participating in the robbery of their own free will. It’s not something they wanted, desired, or hoped they’d experience.

The problem with compliance is that when there is no love, sense of duty, or conviction driving them, given enough time, men fail or refuse to comply. We have recent examples of how fragile a thing the notion of compliance is, where people just got fed up and said no more.

God desires obedience, not compliance. No, the two are not interchangeable, and while one can easily be a lifelong endeavor, wherein we walk in obedience for all of our days, the other is situational, having more to do with fear of consequence than love for God.

The Bible tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice. The same can’t be said about compliance. Not only must we be content where God has us, but our obedience must spring from our love for Him and the conviction that comes about only when we are confident we are walking in His will.

The notion that God will save you and use you despite yourself and your refusal to obey Him has no Biblical basis. It’s a fairy tale lukewarm souls tell other lukewarm souls to keep them from realizing that decades later, they’re in the same place they started because they chose not to obey the Word and direction of God.

If God commands you to obey, but you’re busy counting off the reasons you shouldn’t, God’s not going to go hoarse repeating Himself to you or trying to convince you why you’re wrong. If you believe something contrary to the Word of God, you’re wrong. If you believe something contrary to the will of God, you’re wrong. Always, every time, without fail, no matter how good your excuses might be, you’re still wrong.

No one gets an exemption; there is no special dispensation, nor will God allow you to live in rebellion because you’re so useful to His kingdom. These are lies people tell themselves and others to excuse sin in their lives while still maintaining spiritual authority over others. God is not so desperate for servants that He will compromise His righteousness. He is not so desperate for Apostle, Bishop, and Elder Amos to continue clinging to the tenuous authority he has that He is willing to overlook the affairs, divorces, drunkenness, or embezzlement. Elder Amos may be that desperate, but God isn’t!

By the same token, God doesn’t use coercion or trickery to get people saved. Some people do, and that kind of ham-handed come to Jesus, and you’ll ride in a golden chariot to your seaside villa while being fed Concord grapes by unicorns and fairies, never sticks. It’s like buying a timeshare. The brochure was nice and all, but eventually, you realized every room smelled like curry, and the beach view you were promised turned out to be a billboard for Coppertone three miles from the closest sand.

You’re not doing anyone any favors by omitting the reality of trials, tribulations, or suffering for the cause of Christ. If all you’re telling people about is their best lives and how they’re in for a lifetime of binding, loosing, and speaking prosperity into existence if they walk the aisle, there will come a point wherein they will grow disillusioned and feel as though they were misled.

Tell the truth, always. Don’t try to sugarcoat the walk or withhold how prevalent the enemy attacks are. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life, Jesus didn’t hold back, though He loved him. His words were direct and clearly articulated: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

The young ruler had asked a question and got an answer. It just wasn’t the answer he was hoping for or one he was willing to consent to. And so, he went away sorrowful because he had great possessions, and although the Word does not expound, we can clearly intuit that his heart was tethered more to his possessions than a desire for eternal life.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2023


 For my first ten years of ministry, I was a glorified donkey. I traveled America with my grandfather, acting as his interpreter, visiting churches, home groups, and anyone who reached out and wanted us to come speak, doing my best to juggle school and being on the road nine months out of the year. I was twelve when I started. Other than Alaska, I’ve been to every state in the Union, and depending on how you feel about Puerto Rico, I’ve yet to visit that as well.

It got easier once I got a driver’s license and was able to rent cars, but for the first few years, we had to rely on the kindness of people we’d never met to pick us up from the airport, take us to their home or a motel, and make sure we made the scheduled services on time. We met some good and kind people along the way and some who weren’t so good and kind after they heard what my grandfather had to say. We took it all in stride because we had a duty, a calling, some might say even a mandate to bring a hard message to a soft church about the coming trying days. Coincidentally, the days of which we warned for the better part of a decade are now here, but that’s a different topic for another time.

It wasn’t always hard, but it was never easy, especially as my grandfather’s deteriorating health made it difficult for him to walk. Even so, he persevered, going wherever he was called without complaint, even when I had to carry him from the car to the motel room. Whenever I’d ask him why we were keeping at the pace we were going, his answer would always be because God said.

It was never about building a ministry, legacy, or brand name; it was always because God said. It’s not as though all the travel didn’t take a toll. Even though he never talked about it, I could see it on his face readily enough. He missed his wife whenever we were on the road and his daughter and my two little brothers, whom we got to see for a day or two whenever we’d stop by home to get fresh clothes and drop off the laundry.

Make no mistake: a life in ministry is a life of sacrifice. It is a life lived doing what God commanded you to do, even if you’d rather be doing something else, like spending time with your family or fishing. My grandfather loved to fish.

Ministry is not like building a company, at least not a real ministry. You don’t build it until you can coast, retire, or have a hefty golden parachute waiting at the end of the rainbow. It is a life of service, more often than not thankless, and occasionally, even heartbreaking when those on behalf of whom you’ve sacrificed your life lash out in anger because the message you were tasked with delivering seemed too harsh and abrasive.

After he passed, I believed my time in ministry had likewise ended because I had served my purpose, I’d been his interpreter for as long as he needed me to, and I’d started making plans for life after ministry. It was time to pick a career, settle down, start a family, and do the things people who are not constantly on the road do.

Then God said no. I pretended I hadn’t heard, and He got louder until I relented and continued in the work, not because it had been a dream or because I wanted to be in ministry, but because God said.

I was hesitant because I knew what real ministry was and what my life would be. It’s not a life I would have chosen if I had a choice. Yet, here I am because when God calls, you answer, and when He tells you what you must do, you do it.

I was content being a donkey and did it faithfully, to the best of my ability. I never aspired to more, nor did I harbor a desire for something beyond it. If God had not called me to continue in the ministry, I would have accepted it as His will and continued to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. It would not have changed my relationship with Him, nor would it have changed my faithfulness to Him.

Had I aspired to more, and had God not called me to it, there is a chance that I would have become embittered, going about my days trying to convince Him why He made a mistake in not calling me to continue in the work.

Be content where He has you, and allow the time required for the testing of your faith to produce patience in you. Do not worry about tomorrow or where you will be a year from now because God knows, and as long as He knows, it is well with you. Be obedient in the present, with no ulterior motive or aspiration for something greater. He will see your obedience, He will see your faithfulness, and He will reward it.

If you’re waiting on a calling, make use of the time you’ve been given to grow in God, mature your spiritual man, study the Word to show yourself approved, and build up your most holy faith so that when He does send you forth, you are well equipped to stand against the darkness and proclaim the truth of God’s word with boldness.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, October 16, 2023


 The way in which we react to trials says more about our level of spiritual maturity than any diploma, certificate, or accolade we might have collected along life’s journey. How you react, and the manner in which you meet life’s trials reveals how far you’ve come and how much further you must go in your spiritual growth.

Rich or poor, man or woman, well-known or obscure, no one is ever spared trials in this life. The way they appear varies, but be certain, everyone living, and anyone who’s ever lived, has experienced trials.

A trial doesn’t necessarily mean a loss, an illness, a tragedy, or a privation. Another word for trial is test, and although we readily associate the word trial with something catastrophic, a trial can be as simple as what you do when the cashier at the local grocer’s hands you more change than what you’re owed.

Are you honest and forthright? Do you hand her the twenty back? Or, knowing that at the end of the day, when she counts her drawer, and she’s short the Andrew Jackson, she has to cough it up from the minimum wage she earns, you pocket it anyway?

You’d be surprised how many self-professing Christians would pocket the money, knowing that it was ill-gotten and wrong to keep it. Sure, they’ll try to justify it by saying the Lord blessed them with the money or that it was the wealth of the wicked being laid up for the righteous, but how do you know the lady with the cat sweater that smelled like moth balls was wicked? It’s ghastly, to be sure, but Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor doesn’t smell like tar or pitch.

And you’ve just lost another reader, chubby. I think Diamonds is a lovely fragrance! And that’s your right, but taste is subjective. In all good conscience, I can’t say something that makes my eyes water is something I want to smell for longer than a second or two.

We are constantly being tested, and James insists that we should count it all joy.

By their definition, trials and tests are not easy for the flesh, nor are they something we naturally react positively toward. Usually, your tests and trials will be focused on the one area in your life you’ve neglected to strengthen your defenses against. Before you say you are impregnable, everyone has something that’s their pressure point, their trigger, or their weakness.

Whether it’s bad drivers, flattery, lust, pride, avarice, or pumpkin spice lattes, there’s something you know you have to guard extra hard against, and usually, it is the thing you guard least against because your flesh does its best to keep you from doing so.

It becomes easier as you mature and you realize that your flesh and spiritual man are at constant war, and they will never reconcile and become friends. One will always be seeking to fell the other, and the one we show most deference to is the one that will usually win out. Your flesh can’t do much hanging on a cross, but few are willing to drive the nails in deep enough for it not to wriggle free from time to time.

Although there is something to be said about the adage that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called, it is also true that He promotes the tested.

Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”

How does God know? By testing us. If we are found faithful in the little things, He knows He can entrust us with greater things still. However, if we prove ourselves unfaithful in the little, we will remain where we are until we pass the test.

Wherever God has you currently, be faithful to it. There are no small callings, insignificant tasks, or irrelevant offices within the kingdom of God. Your duty is not to pursue an office or a calling; it is to pursue godliness with contentment, and when He has need of you somewhere, He will let you know at the appropriate time.

Getting ahead of God and pursuing something for which He knows we are not yet ready is a recipe for disaster and a whole lot of heartache. Spend enough time in ministry, and you’ll see it play out firsthand. When one is ill-equipped, immature, and unseasoned, yet barrel headfirst into things to which they were never called, ruination is inevitable.

Saddest of all is that people who pursue callings to which they were never called usually get bitter toward God for not validating their aspirations once they fail in their endeavors. Be content where God has you, and make sure that He walks with you every step of the way. Not ahead, not behind, but side by side, toward whatever plan He has in store for you.

Prophet to the nations has a nice ring to it, but if He never called you to that, it’s not something you should pursue for yourself. God rewards the obedience of His servants, not the size of the ministry He entrusted them with.

The faithful servant who preached to a homeless man on the street corner will receive the same reward as the one who preached to thousands in stadiums because they both walked in obedience and remained faithful to their calling.

There’s a difference between you wanting something and God wanting something for you. It’s not nuance, it’s not splitting hairs, it’s the difference between success and failure, between victory and defeat.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, October 14, 2023


 We tend to assume that if people knew how to do something, or what they needed to do in order to achieve a specific goal, they would do it. It would be an optimistic assumption, to be sure, but a misguided one, because most people do know how to get what they want, they’re just too lazy to do it.

We’ve all heard the saying that nothing worth having comes easy. If something’s worth having it will take some time and elbow grease. It requires perseverance to go through ten years of medical school so that you can tinker with people’s hearts. If you wanted to stock shelves at Walmart, not so much. In less than a week, you too can be an associate and be the proud wearer of a blue vest that you will have to return in the unlikely event of your termination or if you quit your job. While it’s true that if you have a pulse and don’t go around biting people’s ears you’re unlikely to get terminated, quitting is highly probable unless you’re dead inside and just waiting for the rest of you to get the memo.

It all depends on what you want to achieve, and what you desire to obtain. The greater the goal, the achievement, or the attainment, the more time and effort they require. Once you figure out how much time it will take, you must determine whether you’re willing to make the sacrifice and do the hard work. As Jesus put it, count the cost.

If Jesus admonished us to count the cost, then a cost is involved. It’s a given that what you get in return for what you give is priceless, but you still have to give something to receive what He promises. It’s great that we sing about giving Him our hearts and our souls, but just singing about it won’t cut it. We must go beyond the singing to the doing and follow through with our declaration.

Are you willing to surrender not just part of you but all of you? That’s the cost, and God will accept nothing less. Divided hearts, like divided loyalties, lead to messy, painful places. Though you may think you’re special enough for God to make an exception and take only what you’re willing to part with, you’re not, and neither am I, and painful as it might be to hear it, someone has to say it.

If you’ve counted the cost and determined that you’re willing to incur it, from that point forward, you are no longer your own, doing what you want, as you want, when you want, but you belong to Him, and your singular purpose is to become what He desires you to be.

Yes, I know, you’re a priest and a king, ruling nations with a rod of iron, but Jesus still said that to follow Him, you must deny yourself and take up your cross, so there’s that.

The perspective with which we see ourselves, God, and the dynamics of our relationship determines how we view trials and testing in our lives. When we submit to His authority and accept the dynamic of Master and servant, Creator and creation, Father and son, then living in harmony with the will of God becomes our focus, knowing that it’s the harmony that brings about spiritual health and maturity.

You cannot grow in God outside of obedience to His word. You cannot mature spiritually while living in rebellion against God’s commands. You cannot belong to Him while denouncing His nature and disregarding His will for your life.

Then that would mean there are scores of people walking about thinking it is well with their soul just because they raised a hand and said a prayer when all is not well. Is that what you’re saying? Are you saying there are people who think they’re saved just because of a one-time experience but who never followed through with denying themselves and taking up their crosses?

I’m not the one saying it; the Bible is, but nowadays, all that’s ever used for is to remind people to bring their tithes into the storehouse. Whether or not they’re walking humbly with their Lord, living in holiness, and seeking righteousness is beside the point as long as they’re up to date on their giving. We got bills to pay; your soul can wait.

Nobody wants to hear that trials are the permanent instrument God uses for our sanctification because that would mean God doesn’t prioritize our flesh nearly as much as we do. That can’t be right, can it? If God’s emphasis is our sanctification, then that would mean our best lives take a back seat, and that’s a hard message to sell to a generation that is so self-obsessed they see nothing beyond what benefits them individually in the present. Unsustainable national debt? Making future generations indentured servants based on our frivolous spending? Who cares? Give me mine, and leave me be! What’s this belt-tightening you speak of?

It comes as a shock to many when they realize God doesn’t favor, prioritize, or elevate the flesh nearly as much as they do. Nor does He focus on our time here beyond preparing us for our time there. The whole purpose of this journey is to ensure that our destination is eternity in His presence. What we must endure on the way to that destination is not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. Paul said that but what did he know? I mean, he never called money down from heaven or had a seminar on prosperity thinking. All he ever wrote about was what he suffered and endured for the sake of Christ.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.