Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting XI

 There’s a difference between glamorous and effective. Most things that are effective aren’t necessarily glamorous because their purpose isn’t to stand out, draw attention, or make it about themselves. Effective things are function-driven, and as long as they perform the function for which they were tailored, then they’ve attained their purpose, and that’s all they’ll ever want to achieve.

If you want to drop a few pounds, go on a forty-five-minute walk every morning for the next month without changing what you eat, and you’ll still manage to drop those few pounds. If you want to accelerate weight loss, cut out sugar and processed foods, and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish within a matter of weeks. Glamorous? No. Effective? Yes.

The problem is that this generation would rather have easy than effective, so they’re scarfing down pills meant for diabetics without knowing what the long-term side effects will be to shed the pounds they could have shed with just a sliver of sweat and dedication.

There are no shortcuts or magic pills when it comes to spiritual maturity. There aren’t any classes or courses you can buy that will catapult you to the top. Some things take time, consistency, and dedication, and growing in God is one of those things.

It is said that with age comes wisdom, and for the most part, it’s true, although I’ve seen my fair share of gray-haired folks act like teenagers to last me a lifetime. It is also true that the more you grow in God, the more time you spend with Him, and the more you do those things that aren’t necessarily glamorous but effective, you will automatically revert to asking Him for clarity, guidance, wisdom, and strength.

2 Chronicles 20:2-3, “Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”

A man with less spiritual maturity would have acted differently than Jehoshaphat. An army was coming to make war; they were great in number, so much so that Jehoshaphat feared them. When he is afraid, man’s first impulse is either flight or fight. Either you turn tail and run, surrender, or try to hammer out some agreement that will see you survive, or you stand your ground, fight, and take it to the enemy to the best of your ability until you run out of steam.

Jehoshaphat did neither. He didn’t prepare for war, nor did he prepare to surrender. He set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

It’s worth noting that God was not his last resort. God was not the last person Jehoshaphat ran to after all his allies abandoned him or after he’d lost the first skirmish. When he heard his enemies were coming to make war, Jehoshaphat made a beeline for God, seeking Him and declaring a fast.

If you don’t know how it played out, spoiler alert: Judah didn’t even have to fight the battle. God fought it on their behalf, and all Judah did was plunder the wealth of their enemies once God had dealt with them.

If Jehoshaphat had gone off to war without entreating God’s favor, waiting for direction, or heeding His counsel, do you think the story would have ended in like fashion? Jehoshaphat was a seasoned warrior. He was not a man to scare easily, but when he heard of all who had amassed against him, he feared. The antidote to fear, whether fear of what is or what is to come, is seeking the Lord and declaring a fast. Not glamorous, but effective. It is not because I say it is but because the Bible proves it is.

What would have likely been a day of mourning, with countless dead, turned into a day of rejoicing as the people saw the power of their God. It wasn’t affirmations that did it; it wasn’t mantras, slogans, intonations, or catchphrases; it was seeking God with fasting and prayer.

Throw a rock in any direction, and you’re bound to hit someone who says that they are God’s friend. What no one seems to query is whether God feels likewise. It’s easy to claim to know someone, but for a relationship to be real, the acquaintance must be reciprocal. Otherwise, it’s just delusion.

You can’t claim to be someone’s friend if you’ve never met them. You can’t claim to love someone if you never want to spend any time with them. You can’t claim to be spiritually mature when you fail to do anything that leads to spiritual maturity.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve gone from telling ourselves that we can be anything we want to be if we work hard, apply ourselves, and never give up to telling ourselves we can be anything we want to be simply if we declare it to be so. Never you mind if someone was called to the office they claim, they’ve claimed it; therefore, you must validate their claim because that’s how things work nowadays. They may work like that with the world, but they’ll never work that way with God. It’s God who gets to call you His friend. He is the one who makes that assessment.

You can’t make an omelet without eggs, you can’t cut a tree without an axe, and you can’t be a man or woman of God without fasting and prayer as constant companions throughout your time on earth. Men have tried other avenues, whether because they deemed it too difficult or not glamorous enough, and failed miserably. Do the simple thing that works rather than the elaborate thing that fails, and you’ll save yourself an ocean of heartache.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting X

 Anecdotally speaking, there are dozens upon dozens of testimonies I can recount wherein, in hindsight, fasting was the deciding factor, the finger on the scale, the one piece of the puzzle that brought everything into focus and made everything bearable if not outright smooth. That said, it’s anecdotal; it’s personal experience. It happened either to me or directly to the ministry God has called me to run, to family, or to personal friends. Granted, they are lived experiences, to be sure, and I can testify to their veracity as well as offer up corroborating witnesses, but I’ve always had an aversion to broad-brushing something based on personal opinion. I’ve seen far too many people excuse something the Bible doesn’t just because they’ve done it, and well, if they’ve done it, then it must be kosher, as kosher as lochs and bagels with a side of matzo ball soup. Thankfully, we don’t have to lean on anecdotal evidence to see the necessity or usefulness of fasting; we can just go to the Word.

It’s funny how when people don’t like what the Bible says on any given topic, they immediately insist that it’s just your opinion, interpretation, or doctrinal bend. No, it’s the Word. It’s there, in black and white or red letter if you prefer, and the only way it becomes an opinion is when you insist that it says something other than what the text says.

If you read “the soul who sins shall die,” then proceed to tell me why you feel as though that can’t be accurate because the god you know wouldn’t send anyone to hell, and we’re all going to heaven in the end just by different roads, the Word did not change, your opinion was contrary to the Word. One was an opinion; the other was the written Word of God! And yes, I know, feelings are a great barometer for truth; I mean, look at every dullard who followed their heart into an early grave or a stint in rehab, but not when it comes to the Bible. Your feelings, my feelings, your mom’s feelings, or your wife’s feelings do not supersede or supplant the written Word of God, nor do they nullify it because you feel as though it’s not quite fair or that it’s too exclusionary.

If you build your spiritual house based on your feelings and following your heart, it won’t be a spiritual house; it will be a refuse pit. There’s a reason the Bible is full of instruction. There’s a reason the Bible has the blueprint for what must be done in order to achieve spiritual maturity and a deeper understanding of God.

Sky diving, tripe, or haggis are not for everyone. Fasting, on the other hand, is for everyone who calls themselves a child of God. Whether for a day, two, three, or a number God puts on your heart that you know you have to follow through and be obedient to, whether with no food and water or just water, fasting must become an integral part of the Christian walk, as compulsory as praying, reading the Word, and spending time in His presence.

Fasting likewise allows you to see your own limitations, weaknesses, and overall insignificance and revives the reality that we are dependent upon God and not Him upon us. For some, that vulnerability is unpleasant, if not outright disconcerting, because the illusion of control is ripped asunder as you feel your flesh grow weaker, and you are leaning ever more on the strength and grace of God.

The first time is the hardest. It’s the tug of war between the flesh and the spiritual man more than any hunger you might experience. Your flesh doesn’t want it, not one bit of it, because it realizes that the ultimate goal is less of its influence and more of God’s. And so, as any cornered beast would, the flesh fights to keep its place, and wield its influence, and impose its will. The flesh doesn’t want to die, but it must so that Christ might live in us fully.

After the first time, once you understand all the upside of fasting for your spiritual man, once you experience the closeness and intimacy with God that can only be accomplished by the practice of fasting, you will do as those who came before you did, and revisit it often and consistently.

Fasting is the cure for many things, and I don’t mean physically, although the research on the benefits of fasting for the human body is eye-opening. Again, be purposeful and specific about why you are beginning a fast, whether for your spiritual well-being or your physical well-being, because you will approach them very differently and spend the time you are fasting differently as well.

The focused intentionality of why you are fasting must be ever-present. While you can laze the day away watching paint dry while fasting for health benefits, when fasting for your spiritual well-being, you’re focused on God and spending time with Him. Is there bleed-through? Will your physical man benefit from a spiritually focused fast? Most assuredly, but that’s a side benefit, not the primary goal.

So, what do I mean by fasting being a cure for what ails you? I can only speak from personal experience, but making fasting an integral part of my journey has aided me in building patience and not reacting instantly to things that require nuanced thought. It has taught me to lean ever more on God, trust His plan, wait for instruction, and value the time I spend with Him, knowing it’s only a glimpse and shadow of what is to come.

We are instructed to wait patiently on the Lord. Why not use that time to grow, mature, and cement our relationship with Him through fasting, prayer, and a deeper understanding of His word?

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, January 29, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting IX

 There’s a saying that’s been going around that the younger generation of go-getters seems to have adopted as their mantra: the simple, to-the-point notion that success leaves clues. There’s an entire subculture of young people seeking out successful older people and interviewing them, hoping to get some insight into how they succeeded in their chosen careers and made a name for themselves. Granted, most of the people who watch these videos go no further than watching them and remain in the state they’ve always been in, wasting time as though it were an infinite commodity, but we can take the same idea and apply it to the spiritual, understanding that what has worked in the past, will work in the present, and will likewise work in the future.

Testimonies are a great source of encouragement and edification, but if all we do is listen to testimonies without applying the lessons the individuals learned along the way, we’re just spinning our wheels, wasting time, and finding excuses not to execute on what we’ve learned.

It’s not that I’m discounting what passes for prophets and prophetesses today because I’m mean-spirited or because I don’t believe you can go to heaven via a porta-potty, which I don’t, but that’s just me, but because the people claiming to be prophets and prophetesses aren’t doing what prophets and prophetesses have done since the beginning of prophecy in the Bible.

I have yet to find one prophet or prophetess in the Bible who had glam sessions, drew the attention unto themselves, said things contrary to God’s word, or insisted that they were the one and true messenger alive today, and all others were pretenders to their throne.

Luke 2:36-38, “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

Here, we have a woman the word of God refers to as a prophetess. She didn’t claim the title, call down the mantle, insist to everyone else that she was the bee’s knees. She was widowed after seven years of marriage, and well into her eighties, she yet served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

She didn’t ease up on the throttle because she was getting on in age; she didn’t go and retire in a senior citizen community in Boca after having fleeced the gullible by telling the spiritualized fairy tales. Night and day, she fasted and prayed.

She is remembered not for the prophecies she uttered but for the faithfulness she personified. Her life consisted of fasting and prayer. That was it. No public relations firms, no guest appearances on another prophetess’s television show, no workshops on how other women could become prophetesses; she fasted, prayed, and spoke of Jesus to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Her purpose wasn’t to spotlight herself or her accomplishments, to build up her ministry, or to be a name in the evangelical community; it was to serve the best way she could, which was with fastings and prayers night and day. Yes, I know. I’ve been repeating that she fasted and prayed night and day like a chorus or a hook line, but lest we forget, repetition is the mother of learning.

Before you ask, yes, it matters. The reason it matters is because women on their fourth husbands who look like blowfish from all the Botox they’ve had shoved into their faces, who haven’t said a prayer since Ronald Reagan was president, and who don’t even know the meaning of fasting, are prancing around insisting that you show them deference and treat them with reverence because they have decided they were prophetesses. I guess it beats emptying bedpans for a living, but at what cost?

Ezekiel 13:3, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!’”

That’s God’s take on it, but I’m sure the ladies who claim to make multiple trips to heaven on a given Tuesday have His ear and give Him advice as to how He should run the universe can make Him see the error of His ways.

One cannot claim gifting, prophetic or otherwise, without a life consistent in prayer and fasting.

But how do you know they don’t fast and pray? Because if they did, the fear of the Lord would be evident in the words they spoke, the things they said, and the claims they made. When you begin to claim things antithetical to what the Bible says without batting an eye, there is no fear of the Lord in you, and if there is no fear of the Lord in you, there is no life devoted to prayer and fasting in you either.

We need to stop with the whole " God is doing a new thing " thing because He hasn’t done a new thing for millennia, and He’s not about to start now, especially when that new thing implies Him going against His Word in order to do it.

If God changes not, then neither does the way He interacts with His servants, nor does the standard He holds His servants to. No change means no change. Not some selective changes, not changes based on the culture or the generation He is addressing, no change! Just because certain individuals don’t want to do the work doesn’t mean God no longer requires the work to get done.

It demeans the God we serve when we try to lay our duplicity at His door and pretend as though He is at fault. He is God; He has commanded; we must obey.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting VIII

 One of the biggest lies perpetrated upon the modern-day church is that true intimacy with God can only be attained by certain individuals, usually heads of ministries or churches, who demand that they be the gateway by which you discover Christ. It’s not just humbling yourself, repenting of your sins, and picking up your cross to follow Him; you must do it in the manner in which they prescribe. Otherwise, it’s not valid.

I’ve known people who’ve been water baptized a half dozen times because each new guru tells them the last time didn’t take. It wasn’t right because they either got baptized in the name of Jesus, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, or they didn’t get baptized in the Hebrew name of Jesus, and that’s just something we can’t have. You have individuals taking unnecessary baths fully clothed over and over again because someone convinced them that the God who loved the world to such a degree that He sent His only begotten Son to die is likewise so petty that if they didn’t get water baptized in the name of Elohim, Yeshua, and Ruach Ha-Kodesh, in that order, with the requisite inflection, then you’ll get turned away when you stand before the great white throne of judgment.

Anyone who tries to control your access to God is not your friend. Anyone who insists that you need them in order to know Him is lying to your face, and sooner or later, you will feel the grubby fingers in your pockets, feeling for some loose change, if not something more substantial.

You don’t need a third party to get to know God. All you need is the desire, hunger, and willingness to take the time and draw near to Him. Fasting facilitates the nearness. If your intentions are pure, and all you desire is more of Him, He will not turn you away or play hide and seek with you. If you seek, you will find. It’s a promise, and He keeps His promises.

Problems arise when we pursue God as a means to some end or other and not exclusively for Him. He isn’t a means to an end; He is the end. He isn’t the vehicle by which you achieve your deepest desires; He is your deepest desire, or at least He should be. He is the destination. The terminus. The end of the line. The brass ring. He is everything and not the means to acquiring things.

I have a friend who is somewhat well-off. He made the right investments at the right time, reaped the rewards thereof, and is beyond comfortable as far as his daily bread is concerned. One morning, we were having breakfast, and when I asked for the check, he said, “I’ve been meaning to ask, why do you always insist on paying for your meal? I can get it; it wouldn’t be a problem.”

“Because I don’t want our friendship to be about that. I want our friendship to be about our friendship,” I answered.

God already knows the desires of men’s hearts. You can’t hide it from His all-knowing eye. Some people pretend to be God’s friend for the perks and benefits. It’s like trying to be friends with a rich guy because he might let you drive his Porsche, not because you genuinely like spending time with him.

You’ll know which is which most of the time, depending on how people react the first time God says no. It’s easy to spot if you know what to look for. If someone desires a genuine relationship with God and asks God for something, and the answer comes back as denied, they take it in stride, acknowledge that God knows better, and continue building their relationship with Him. If someone’s in it because they think they can hoodwink God into letting them win the lottery, the first time He says no, they get angry and bitter and turn their back on the God whom they’d declared they would serve unto death only moments earlier.

Fasting is the ecosystem. What you build in that ecosystem is entirely up to you. Fasting must have a purpose beyond depriving yourself of food. It must be targeted and given direction.

Nehemiah 9:1-2, “Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.”

I am thoroughly surprised that someone hasn’t put together a fasting kit consisting of sackcloth and a baggy of dust, but now that I’ve put the idea out there, it’s only a matter of time. Although the purposefulness of fasting did not change from the Old to the New Testament, how we are instructed to conduct ourselves did.

We are no longer supposed to dress ourselves in sackcloth and sprinkle dust on our heads, but rather wash our faces and not walk about dour and dismayed as though fasting were a chore or we were being put out by the practice thereof.

Fasting must be a regular practice in the life of the believer but never a common one. What I mean by this is that we do not approach fasting on autopilot, doing it just to get it over with, but with intent and purposefulness of heart and a focused desire that the fast itself will amplify.

I’m a creature of habit. I drive in to work every morning, come home in the afternoon, and every other day, stop by the grocery store to get whatever we’re running low on in the home. I’ve driven the same road so often and for so many years that some days, I find myself pulling into the driveway without being consciously aware of having driven myself there. It’s disturbing every time it happens, but they say it’s all muscle memory and a normal part of life. That’s not what fasting is supposed to be like. We can’t just go through the motions hoping it’s good enough. We must actively strive to humble ourselves and seek the face of God so that we may see the fulfillment of His promises toward us, His children.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting VII

 I’d rather have you as my enemy and tell you the truth than have you as my friend while feeding you lies. It’s not that I don’t like having friends or that I revel in having enemies. I fear God above all, and it’s because I fear Him that men’s friendship or animus are irrelevant to me. No, I’m not one of these above-it-all individuals who are unaffected; I’ve just developed thick skin over the years because, funny enough, those who are the first to call you names are always the last to apologize, and that’s even if they do, which most don’t, because that would mean they were wrong and that’s not within their ability to allow for. They have to pretend to be right even when they know they’re wrong, and that’s just part of the game they choose to play.

What God says, how He sees a particular situation, and what He says about certain practices must be preeminent and top of mind whenever we offer counsel, advice, or an opinion. What we say must be in harmony with what He says; otherwise, we are not being the good and faithful servants He expects us to be. Imagine being sent as an emissary of the king, only to get to your destination and offer your opinion rather than what the king said, and likely contrary to what the king said. Could you still call yourself a servant of the king? Would there be no repercussions for having taken it upon yourself to deliver a message other than what the king commanded?

One of the things I hear most often when discussing the present power and presence of the Holy Spirit and how, through fasting and prayer, we prepare ourselves and create the environment for its manifestation is that any claim of supernatural experiences or revelation is purely anecdotal. That’s just a fancy way of saying something is based on personal experience while insinuating that the subjective experience itself is unreliable because there are no independent facts to buoy the claims.

Those who insist that God decided to be an Indian giver and rescind the offer of the Comforter whom He promised would be with us and in us until the end of time fail to prove that there is Biblical support for these claims or that the facts are on their side. While I have anecdotal evidence and Jesus' promise that the Holy Spirit would be a present help until His return, you have the words of an individual who is parroted by other individuals and take that as gospel truth.

Again, what if the reason for the scarcity of the Holy Spirit's presence and power has less to do with their availability and more to do with the lack of discipline and spiritual maturity on the part of those claiming to be His followers?

What if the spring is there, but you failed to bring a cup? What if the fire is there, but you failed to bring a firepot, or the vessel you hoped to carry the fire in was not adequately prepared for the task?

It’s easy to say God can’t do something, but when you make such a declaration, you have to contend with the reality that you are limiting God, calling all those who claim to have had those experiences outright liars and contradicting the words of Jesus which you have to twist into a pretzel to make say something different than what it says. That’s a tall order for anyone, and it’s something each of us will have to answer for when we stand before the almighty one day.

Fasting was not an occasional practice of the primary church; it was a constant. They practiced it so routinely that you see them spending time fasting and in prayer over and over again because it was the only way they knew of to grow spiritually and mature as a servant of Christ.

There were no workshops on how to experience the Shekinah, no prophetic mantles on offer for the low, low price of five thousand buckaroos, just a group of men and women who hungered for God and realized that prayer and fasting were par for the course in preparing oneself to receive all that He had to give.

That’s not to say the skepticism isn’t warranted. We’ve all seen the clowns on parade insisting that the power of the Holy Spirit resides in fleshly outbursts and uncontrollable delirium. There are a handful of silly people who have made a mint off the gullible, and they’ll go to great lengths to protect their cottage industries. Coincidentally, they’re the same people who never mention prayer and fasting because to immerse yourself in these things is to be fallow for the true infilling of the Holy Spirit, which will produce the true power they fear.

The last thing lukewarm leaders want is true and unflinching soldiers in their midst. It will either reveal their compromised state or compel them to come out of their comfort zone and pursue God more fervently. Most want neither, so they insist on keeping the tepid, tepid, and the lukewarm, lukewarm. Between the children of darkness who are terrified of the true power of God and the compromised leaders in the church who would rather not see it manifest, it’s up to the individual believer to pursue the promises of God in the manner in which He prescribed. Fasting, prayer, and supplication are those ways. There’s no barrier to entry when it comes to drawing closer to God. You don’t need a seminary degree or to attend a workshop on hermeneutics to declare a fast, get alone with God, learn to hear His voice, and do as He instructs.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting VI

 So, how do you know the people of Nineveh repented? How do you know it wasn’t just a reaction to being told they would be judged in forty days and that it was true repentance? The short answer is that Jesus said as much. Question men, but believe Jesus. Sadly, nowadays, within most denominations, the opposite is happening. We are believing men but questioning Jesus, then have the audacity to shake our fists at the sky because we’re not seeing what we expected to see as far as spiritual power and authority are concerned.

It wasn’t the focal point of a sermon but what is commonly referred to as an auxiliary argument. Jesus explains to those listening to Him that the men of Nineveh would rise up in the judgment against that present generation for their hard hearts.

Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.”

Jesus said the men of Nineveh repented at Jonah's preaching, and given that God relented from the disaster He said He would bring upon them, it is indisputable that Christ’s assessment is correct.

Who will stand in the judgment and condemn this generation, I wonder? What does this generation lack as far as access to truth, instruction, direction, freedom, and ability to serve God, yet here we are, daily trying to find ways to do less for the Kingdom and more for the flesh? There will come a day when past generations of men and women who suffered and died for the cause of Christ will condemn our indifference, slothfulness, and laziness.

Being the prototypical church, the church of Acts is worth studying to see what they did, how they operated, and what they practiced consistently. It’s easy to wave off the power and presence of God and say He doesn’t do that anymore, although I’ve never heard a good explanation as to why, than to dig a bit deeper and consider that another possibility for why we are not seeing the power and authority of God as past generations did is because we are not as committed, and no longer practice the things they once did which set them apart.

From the beginning, the primary church was one of fasting and prayer. Even before the Holy Spirit descended, they were gathered in one accord, praying and learning from the apostles' teaching. Once they got a bit of experience under their belt and began going out to preach the gospel, what they did, as far as their spiritual walk was concerned, didn’t change. They still prayed, and they still fasted, but now, having attained the knowledge of the message of the cross, they went out to preach it themselves.

Perhaps so many churches are lukewarm and rudderless because we’ve gotten away from the things that facilitate the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, not because we no longer have access to Him in our midst. Perhaps God’s Word is true after all, and His hand is not short; it’s just man who approaches Him in an unworthy manner, refusing to draw close and do the things required for a greater portion of power and authority.

Acts 13:2-3, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

When you read through the book of Acts and the writings of Paul, you get the sense that much of their time was spent in prayer and fasting. We don’t like to consider the sort of lives they lived or the sort of devotion they exhibited in order to experience the things they experienced; we’d rather throw the baby out with the bathwater and say that anyone who experiences the presence and power of God, anyone who witnesses miracles, or hears the voice of God is delusional and needs to be institutionalized.

Since the beginning of creation, men have heard the voice of God. God has been active and present among His people from the book of Genesis throughout the Old and New Testaments, but somehow, because a stuffy suit with an overbite says that is no longer the case, we’re all supposed to take their word for it.

What if the remedy for our lethargy was a return to Biblical living? What if the cure for our spiritual drought was reacquainting ourselves with the practices of the primary church and reviving the hunger they exhibited to go to any lengths in order to lift high the name of Jesus?

What if the problem isn’t Him but us?

While the church of Antioch was ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them to separate Barnabas and Saul for the work to which they had been called. They didn’t get on FaceTube and spent a month telling people how the Holy Spirit had given a word; they went back to fasting and praying, then having fasted and prayed, they laid hands on Barnabas and Saul and sent them away.

These were men fully aware of the dangers that lay before them. They were men fully aware of the reality that surrounded them and that to be victorious, to overcome, they needed power from on high. How they obtained power, grew power, and consolidated power is not a mystery; it’s not complicated; it’s not something one needs a decoder ring for. They fasted and prayed, and fasted and prayed, and once they’d fasted and prayed, they were sent out, fasting and praying and doing the work to which they had been called.

I get it, though. It’s much easier to say that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore, through anyone, anywhere, at any time, no matter the reason, and if it does, it’s from the enemy than to admit that the fault lies with us and if we’d do as they did, we’d have what they had.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting V

 Another question that has come across my desk is whether someone should fast if they’re not in the right spiritual frame. Should they fast if they’re not where they’re supposed to be in their walk or if they’ve been neglecting their time with God? To that, I say, the Ninevites did.

God had passed judgment on the people of Nineveh. They were told that in forty days, they, along with their city, would be no more, and it wasn’t because they were in the right spiritual state or their righteousness was spoken of throughout the land. If only the righteous fasted, there would be even fewer people fasting than there currently are.

Fasting aids in repentance. Fasting aids in bringing you to that place in your walk where you know it should be because when you declare a fast fully aware of your shortcomings, you are declaring that you need to draw closer to God and pursue the repentance required of you to do so. Declaring a fast when you are struggling, when the enemy is gaining ground, or when you’ve divided your time unwisely and have spent less time in His presence than you ought presupposes awareness and acknowledgment of these things.

It is when we think ourselves righteous and beyond the need to fast and pray and humble ourselves that we become vulnerable, and the enemy has an easier time of ensnaring us and pulling us into the deep. If I’m dependent upon God, if I walk humbly with Him, if I know that it’s His provision and protection that are carrying me through the dark days, the enemy will have no way in. He will find no chink in my armor. If I lean on my own understanding and trust in the arm of the flesh, if I think myself invincible and not needing God’s grace and mercy, then the enemy will fell me as surely as a woodsman fells a sapling.

As I said, I don’t know how long the people of Nineveh fasted for, but fast they did. Since they only had forty days at their disposal, logic would dictate they topped out at forty, but since we know the human body tops out at three with no food or water, we have a baseline. Keep in mind that the people of Nineveh did not have the promise of relief or any hint that God might change His mind about their destruction. Jonah’s message was not one of repentance but a declaration of judgment. He was not commanded to tell the people of Nineveh that their judgment would be forestalled if they repented. Forty days, and it’s over, was the only message Jonah delivered, but the people of Nineveh believed and took proactive action.

Jonah 3:5-9, “So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”

One thing that often gets overlooked is that there is no mention of Jonah in the reasoning behind the people of Nineveh’s decision to proclaim a fast. It doesn’t say they believed Jonah; it says they believed God, even though the individual delivering the message, albeit grudgingly, was Jonah.

The people believed God! There are nations in this world to whom God has shown grace, to whom he has sent repeated messengers with repeated warnings, hoping those nations would do after repeated attempts what Nineveh did after one messenger came and delivered the message of the Lord.

First, it was the people, then the king. This goes to show how important a wise ruler is for a nation and how paramount it is that their judgment is sound. The king could have balked at the idea of humbling himself, he could have balked at the idea of a messenger from God, or that they would be destroyed within forty days, but instead of reacting poorly, the king also humbled himself, rose from his throne, set aside his robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.

Had he not done this, the story of Nineveh would have played out very differently. After humbling himself, he decreed that neither man nor beast taste anything, whether food or drink, cry mightily to God, and turn from their evil way and the violence that is in their hand.

The king humbled himself first, then proceeded to decree that all others do so as well. He didn’t belong to the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do crowd, which is also noteworthy. The king’s entire reasoning for doing all this is that perhaps there was a shot, there was a chance, there was a possibility that God might relent and turn away from His fierce anger. There were no guarantees, no olive branches extended by Jonah, just the realization that without repentance, there was no shot at all of God relenting and doing everything in their power to entreat God to mercy.

There is never a wrong time to fast if the heart's intent is to draw closer to God, whether through repentance or spiritual growth. God is never absent, away, or otherwise engaged. He sees all, and if we ask Him for bread, He will not give us a stone.

Jonah 3:10, “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting IV

 Although you will find various lengths of time when it comes to fasting throughout the Bible, the three-day fast is the longest you will find wherein fasting from both food and water is mentioned. As I said, the two exceptions were Moses and Jesus, Jesus being Jesus, and Moses being in the presence of God, sustained by Him supernaturally. If you’re thinking to yourself that you may not be Jesus, but you could pass or Moses, then Godspeed. Elijah was also mentioned as having fasted for forty days, but it is unspecified whether water was a component of his fast.

We know that Daniel fasted for ten days, consuming only vegetables and water; Paul fasted for fourteen days, drinking only water; Samuel fasted for seven days, although what he consumed is never specified; and Daniel, once more, fasted for twenty-one days, consuming only water, vegetables, fruits and nuts.

They all had something to do with masticating, swallowing, ingesting, and digesting food, water, or both. Make of that what you will; I’m just telling you what the Bible says if you think you’re fasting from doing laundry or washing the dishes in the sink as unto the Lord. Better still, you can go on a fast from fasting; I know, a Eureka moment if ever there was one, but that’s not biblical either.

If the fast you choose only impacts the flesh but does not resonate with the soul, it will never produce the fruit you expect it to. It goes beyond just skipping a meal, or two, or ten. It goes beyond abstaining from food or drink. Your focus must be such that it’s an intimate experience with God rather than a rumbling tummy.

Psalm 69:10, “When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that became my reproach.”

In a broader context, David is crying out to God because the reproach of those who reproached God had fallen on him, and anything he did was despised and looked down upon. You may think times have changed since David penned his psalm, and they have, but people haven’t. If you insist upon biblical precepts, if you insist upon practicing those things that the Word of God insists you must in order to call yourself a child of God, you will suffer the same reproach from those who desire a halfhearted commitment at most.

The lukewarm aren’t threatened by you specifically; they are threatened by your desire to press in, grow, and mature. They’re threatened by your being hot while they are lukewarm because, deep down, they know what God said and what their ultimate end will be.

If you’ve ever wondered how much of a pull the world or the pleasures of the flesh have on men’s hearts, even though they know that the lukewarm will be spewed out of God’s mouth, they still try to justify their state and insist that though God says He will do a thing, He didn’t really mean it.

Some will even have the temerity to point out their halfhearted worship and tertiary knowledge of Him, claiming that they prophesied in His name, cast out devils, and did mighty works in His name, and still, He will command them to depart, for He never knew them.

To this day, men are walking about, thinking that their service to God will make up for their shortfall of faith, devotion, commitment, and righteousness. Faithfulness in one thing will not make up for the shortcomings in all the others. God will not demand of anyone that they neglect their family in order to grow their ministry. That’s their desire for greatness pushing them on, not the will of God.

Your fast, however long you decide to make it, should be accompanied by prayer, supplication, and a singular desire for more of God’s presence in your life. The men we read about having fasted in the Word were all men who had a long-lasting and profound relationship with God. They didn’t just stop drinking and eating; in the midst of their fast, they beseeched God, communed with Him, and fellowshipped with Him.

Fasting without fellowshipping with God is like making the drive to church and spending all your time in the parking lot. Technically, you went to church, but you did not avail yourself of any of the benefits of being in fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Joel 2:12-13, ‘“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”

It’s not the heathen God is beseeching to turn to Him with fasting, weeping, and mourning. It’s His own, His people, His wayward children. Of the three, God counsels His people to pursue fasting first, followed by weeping and mourning. It is God’s prescription to refreshing and renewing a relationship with Him.

Fasting establishes the environment. Once the environment is established, it must be followed with prayer, or mourning, or weeping, or a time of fellowship with the Almighty wherein you feel His presence more profoundly than ever before. Fasting is a piece of the puzzle, a slice of the pie, and not the whole. Consequently, if a piece or a slice is missing, it’s noticeable and something that cannot be ignored. Fasting is not the end all and be all of the Christian experience, but it is an integral and necessary component. That’s not me saying it; it’s Jesus. As readily as He instructed us how to pray, He said when you pray, He instructed us how to fast and said when you fast.

The question of whether fasting works or not is answered by the fact that throughout the four thousand-year history that spans the Bible, barring the prophecies of future times, fasting was a common practice. If one generation practiced it without any noticeable benefit, then a second, and a third, how many generations in do you think it would have taken for the practice to fall by the wayside and no longer be something so widely practiced that even Jesus and all His disciples did it?

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, January 21, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting III

 Whenever I’m asked if fasting is still something for today, and this is by far the most often asked question when it comes to the practice, my answer is always that Jesus said when and not if. As I’ve reiterated time and again, words matter, they are important, and they mean what they mean, no matter how many people would insist otherwise.

Just as one plus one will always add up to two, no matter how much people might try to redefine certain words, their definition remains stubbornly consistent. Water will always be wet; fire will always be hot, and the word when will always indicate something that will take place at some point in the future.

Matthew 6:16-18, “Moreover, when you fast do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

By what Jesus said, fasting ought to be such an integral part of following after Him that He took it for granted that all who heard His voice practiced fasting regularly. Not only that, but He likewise practiced fasting and even set the bar for what it is to fast.

There is an ongoing debate among scholars because, let’s face it, other than running a lint brush over their tweed blazers and cashing their checks, they don’t have much on their plates as to whether or not Jesus drank water during his forty days in the wilderness. Some say He did because the devil tempted him with food and not water. Others say He did because, on its own, the human body cannot survive without water in the desert for forty days. The short answer is that I don’t know whether or not Jesus had water in the desert, but there is a third possibility that the stuffy shirts don’t seem to be considering, and that is the likely probability that God supernaturally sustained Jesus in that he felt no thirst, but did not take away the hunger natural to man. It’s one of those intellectual rabbit trails that’s interesting to ponder, as long as it doesn’t take away from the underlying reality that, yes, Jesus fasted and did so for forty days.

You’re not Jesus, and neither am I, so if you’ve never fasted before, perhaps start with a day rather than forty, you know, just to get your feet wet and understand what fasting is supposed to accomplish in you. I understand that it’s a great icebreaker and will immediately catapult you to the list of the most spiritual person in your sphere to say you fasted forty days, but if that’s your purpose, you can lie about something that’s not spiritual in nature, like owning seven Porches, and though it’s still a lie and you will incur the consequences of lying, at least you will not fan the flames of God’s wrath even more by bringing Him into the mix. Better still, don’t lie at all! If someone can’t like you for you, and you have to make yourself seem more polished than you are, they’re not worth having in your life anyway.

Jesus expected His followers to fast. It was a given. It wasn’t something He hoped they would do or suggested they would do, but He assumed outright that it would be a practice among them to the point that He told his disciples not to be like the hypocrites when they fasted. If you are fasting, don’t draw attention to yourself. I know that’s a high bar since seeking attention has become the new opium of the people, and if your face isn’t plastered on every social media outlet, every day, all day, then you don’t really exist. Jesus is telling us not to do what is in our nature to do, which is to try and get those around us to see and acknowledge how spiritual, humble, and religious we can pretend to be. Moreover, He insists we should actively strive to do the opposite. Do all you can not to appear to men as though you are fasting.

Wash your face and do the equivalent of anointing your head, which is spraying on some cologne or perfume. Don’t go about pouting as though it were the end of the world, as though you were Sisyphus trying to push a boulder up a hill with each sigh and deep breath.

Fasting is an intimate practice, one that God does not fail to notice and respond to. Jesus does not mince words. He does not intimate that the Father in heaven might see that you fast, but rather, He will see it. It is a certainty and something that God will reward openly if the desire and purpose of your heart are pure.

If there was any confusion on what fasting consisted of or what it meant to fast, Jesus would have clarified it because ignorance is not a state He wants His beloved to be in. Because there was no clarification on the matter because Jesus assumed that all who would hear His words knew what fasting was, what it meant, and how it was to be conducted, we can delve into scripture and see how those of the Old Testament practiced fasting, knowing that the same format carried through into the New Testament, and through the passing of time, to us.

It's one thing to fast; it’s another to consecrate yourself. A fast is a fast. When you wake up in the morning and have breakfast, it literally means breaking a fast. I know we like our chicken and waffles too much to concede the point that biblical fasting is specific to food and water, but it is what it is. I’m sure we’d all rather fast from going to the gym or personal grooming than not eat for a day or three. The problem is that we don’t always get what we want in life, and if we are bondservants of Christ, we must do as He wills.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting II

 Some people like to brag about fasting, like some gym rats brag about how much they bench. I’ve known a handful of both types of individuals throughout the years, and I’ve yet to decide which is the most annoying. Whichever turns out to take the number one spot, they are both similar in that neither brags about being average. You’ll never hear a gym rat brag that he benched a hundred pounds, and you’ll never hear a Christian braggart brag about fasting for a day. It’s always six hundred pounds and a forty-day fast.

To put it into context, throughout the entirety of the Bible, which spans roughly four thousand years, there were only three men who went on forty-day fasts, and one of them happened to be the Son of God.

Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. That’s it. Those are the only three men documented in the Bible as having gone on a forty-day fast, yet nowadays, every guy and his grandma seem to be on a forty-day fast. They really try to shoehorn it in wherever they can. You ask them about their dog since the last time you talked they mentioned it was sick, and they tell you the dog’s a bit lonely because they’ve been on a forty-day fast and didn’t have the energy to play fetch.

If you’re fasting just to get a badge or to have a reason to brag about how spiritual you are, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, and the intended benefit of having fasted will be negated anyway. Throughout this discussion, I will repeatedly hammer home the point that the reason you fast, the purpose for it, is of paramount importance, as is the case with most things in life. God knows the why. He sees the inner things of the heart, and nothing is hidden from His eyes.

Why we do what we do matters. It matters to those around us, and it matters to God. If I give a homeless man a slice of pizza just to take a selfie, or if I give one of my girls a hug in the morning just to make the other one jealous, it belittles the actions and eliminates the pure intent I otherwise might have had.

We don’t know how long the people of Nineveh fasted for. It remains a mystery to this day, but Biblically speaking, other than the three aforementioned individuals who fasted for forty days, fasts usually lasted anywhere from one to three days. It is a predetermined time that you decide upon, and there’s no right length or wrong length of time to fast. You are not spiritually superior to me for having fasted forty days, and I’m not spiritually inferior to you for only having fasted three. We fast as unto the Lord, and not to impress the fellas at the men’s breakfast.  

As an aside, I will also try to keep from telling you what I do as far as fasting because anecdotal evidence is just that, and I want this to be about what the Bible says about fasting rather than what others think about fasting. By others, I include myself. Granted, I’m kind of a stickler for Biblical accuracy, and I interpret a fast to be within the strictest parameters possible, meaning no food and no water, but that’s just me.

Have I gone forty days without food and water? No. Unless supernaturally sustained, no man can go without water for more than a few days. It is physically impossible. In order to begin that particular journey, you must be supremely assured that it was God who called you to it, for He will have to sustain you through it. Three men, one of them being Jesus, over four thousand years. Keep that in mind.

Although the Bible discusses nationwide fasts, wherein a fast is consecrated, and all the elders and the inhabitants of the land are gathered together in the house of the Lord, we will be focusing mainly on individual fasts, wherein we do them as unto the Lord, without advertising, boasting, or making ourselves seem in such a way that someone is bound to ask why so glum, chum?

It’s not men who must honor you for your fast. It’s not men who must know about it, so they see you as some spiritual juggernaut of the modern era. A true fast is intimate, private, between you and God, and something wholly sublime once you understand the purpose thereof.

There is a story of a young missionary who, while out in the field, wrote an entry in his journal describing how it was more difficult for him to fast while he was alone and by himself than it had been while he’d been attending seminary. When he sat down and thought about why it was so, he determined that it was because while at seminary, everyone would note his absence from the cantina whenever he fasted. Everyone would know why he was missing and associate him with being virtuous and humble. His self-awareness is noteworthy and presents a challenge for us today. Do you fast so others might see, or do you fast so God might see?

Fasting was designed to make your flesh weaker while making your spiritual man stronger. It shifts your focus from the temporal things of this earth to His presence, His glory, His voice, and His will. Fasting is a form of worship. It is the mechanism by which we zoom in on God, drawing closer to Him and seeing the wondrous details of His nature, character, and plan for our lives. It is a means of humbling ourselves before Him that has been practiced for millennia, but that has been whittled away in recent times to the point that most modern-day churches never even mention it anymore.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Fundamentals of Fasting I

 To some, it may seem like an outdated concept. Fasting? What is that? You’re telling me I’m supposed to abstain from something and not indulge in every whim and impulse? I’m supposed to have self-control and the strength to say no to whatever might be proffered to me? Surely, you must be mistaken. That’s what the old fogies used to do. Isn’t it? They were all about the fasting, and the praying, and the humbling of themselves. We’ve got a new groove for a new age, and prayer isn’t really prayer anymore but a laundry list of what we would like from God, and fasting, well, that’s just as antiquated a concept as buggy whips and chamber pots. And you wonder why we don’t see the power prior generations did. You wonder why we’re stuck spinning our wheels so hungry for anything of the supernatural that we flock to some spikey-haired simpleton who’s telling people she went to heaven via a porta-potty.

It wasn’t broke, but we tried to fix it anyway because we thought we knew better and we could simplify it to the point that it cost us nothing, required nothing of us, and we could still enjoy all the benefits of sonship and belonging. It would be the best of both worlds; at least, that’s what they insisted.

You could have the power, perpetual presence, and indomitable authority of the Almighty without denying yourself or following the well-worn path of those who came before you. What did they know anyway? Sure, calling fire down from heaven is all well and good, but fire doesn’t keep you in Gucci, eating Wagyu beef fillets and sipping on Pappy Van Winkle.

The truth of it is we wanted the comfort more than His presence, and the enemy was more than willing to oblige. It’s the power the enemy fears, not the fancy cars or the expensive watches, and as long as he can keep you from it, he’s willing to keep you in Versace until they stick you in a box and put you in the ground.

It’s not a mystery as to why those who came before us walked in power and authority. It wasn’t the seminary degrees or the workshops on how to take up an offering; it wasn’t having a good public relations team or advertising on the right platforms; it was being what God expects His servants to be and doing the things He expects them to do.

To the last, they were men and women of fasting and prayer, individuals over whom this life held no sway and for whom to die for the sake of Christ was gain. It wasn’t something they did once in a great while or whenever the mood struck them; it was a consistent practice that saw their level of faith and maturity grow exponentially.

So, what is fasting? Fasting is a voluntary abstinence from food and drink, as well as other distracting practices, for a predetermined time for the sole purpose of drawing closer to God. We don’t fast to get stuff; we fast to get Him. Even if the stuff you’re fasting for is noble, it still misses the mark because you can’t twist God’s arm into doing something no matter how hungry you get. If you’re doing it for any other reason, you’ve missed the entire point of the exercise.

Although the notion of fasting has been broadened to mean abstaining from anything one might enjoy, whether fishing or video games, since the first instance of fasting was mentioned in the Bible, it had to do with abstaining from food and drink.

I could say I’ve been fasting from playing video games for thirty-five years because that was the last time I sat down and played duck hunt, but when it comes to food and drink, everyone must avail themselves of these two if they want to live. Food and drink are existential necessities in everyone’s life; video games, or fishing for that matter, aren’t. I know I just annoyed all my fishermen friends because, to some of them, it is existential, but we can agree to disagree on this one.

The purpose for which we fast is likewise relevant because I’ve heard that fasting is an excellent form of weight loss one too many times. If you’re fasting to lose weight, then you’re fasting to lose weight. If you’re fasting to mortify the flesh, empty yourself of yourself, and draw closer to God, then the purpose for which you are doing it is very different than to drop a few pounds.

There is a difference between the rigidity of religion and a refreshing and renewing of relationship with God. We fast, not because it’s something we need to check off, being miserable every minute of doing it, and counting the seconds until we can dig into the roasted duck we’ve been basting in the oven for the past ten hours. We fast because we know that we will discover more of God’s majesty every time we deny ourselves, humble ourselves, and concentrate fully on Him.

Some years ago, I visited Istanbul with my in-laws and my wife and made the mistake of letting my father-in-law plan the trip. Since he had no awareness of their traditions, he booked the cheapest dates he could find, and unsurprisingly, those dates fell on Ramadan. For those unaware, Ramadan is a month-long fast for all Muslims, during which time they eat and drink nothing from sundown to sundown.

The thing that stood out most, second to the fact that everyone was short-tempered and irritable, was how every evening, everyone would be sitting at tables with their food covered in plastic, just waiting for sundown so they could tear the saran wrap away and have at it. That’s the difference between the rigidity of religion and fasting in order to draw closer to God.

If the purpose of your fast is anything other than intimacy with God, you’ve thoroughly missed the point of fasting altogether and can be likened to toddlers who think that holding their breath will convince their parents to let them eat three pounds of chocolate in one sitting. We fast not to paint God into a corner about some thing or another but to grow in Him, to know Him better, and to make room in the vessel for more of His presence. Eventually, given enough time, all the vessel will contain is Him. That’s when you really start cooking with rocket fuel.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

A Pause

 It has come to my attention that a handful of you have been asking various questions about fasting. Since I believe fasting to be an integral and essential part of the Christian journey, and since we’re a little over halfway through the book of James, we will pause our discussion of James for a few days and delve into the topic of fasting. That way, I won’t have to write ten different e-mails but have one teaching on the subject that I can forward to anyone inquiring about it if they haven’t happened to catch it on the blog or the Hand of Help website.

While fasting seems to have fallen out of favor with the modern-day church, being replaced by calling money down from heaven or declaring the things that are not as though they were, it’s something that was widely practiced in the Old Testament and transitioned over into the New Testament being a common practice among those whom we look up to and see as ideals and paragons of the faith.

Fasting may not be glamorous, but it is effective. It may not give someone a reason to boast, but it allows them to come to a place wherein they are more receptive to the voice of God and more able to lean on the power of God.

I was toying with the idea of naming it something pretentious like everything I know about fasting or giving it some other title equally grating just for funsies, but as my sense of humor is not to everyone’s taste, I’ll just name the study The Fundamentals of Fasting. I don’t know how long it will be exactly, but it will be however long it needs to be to answer some of the questions I’ve accumulated, as well as to lay a solid foundation for fasting itself.

To those of you enjoying the study on James, rest easy; we will return shortly. To those who’ve been asking about fasting, no, I haven’t been ignoring the messages Daniel forwarded along; I’ve just been trying to juggle everything satisfactorily.

By the by, I know it seems like it’s been a year, but we’re only into the third week of January. Could you imagine what the next 48 weeks are going to be like?

No matter what may come, remember to be strong and of good courage, neither dismayed nor afraid, for the Lord is with you. We’ll look back on this year and call it a lot of things; boring won’t be one of them.

With love in Christ, 

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


 Everything has telltale signs if you know what to look for. If you’re in the market for a high-end Italian designer, you know that if the tag says made in China, it’s likely a knockoff and not worth the price being demanded as though it were real. Swiss chocolates are not made in Vietnam, authentic lederhosen are not made in Shri Lanka, and Irish whisky isn’t made in Poland. To clarify, I eat the first, don’t wear the second, and don’t drink the third.

If you know what to look for, you can tell whether something is real or not without having to go to an authenticator to confirm your suspicions. James tells us there are traits and telltale signs we can look for to determine whether a particular wisdom is from above. If you can identify the source, then you needn’t bother to riffle through it to see if there’s some nugget or morsel that’s worth considering.

If a teaching, a doctrine, an idea, or a creed is not anchored in God, if its origin is not the wisdom of heaven, then it must be rejected, avoided, and given a wide berth. Corruption corrupts. Deception deceives. You may think yourself too strong to be felled, as have many before you, but darkness does not beget light, and if you allow lies to take root in your heart in the hope that you might find a worthwhile morsel amidst all the poison, eventually it will show.

James 3:17-18, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

What are the trademarks that identify wisdom from above? There are a handful, and we will go through them to better understand how easy it is to weed out the bitter water from the sweet and the bad fruit from the good.

Foremost, the wisdom from above is pure. It is an easy word to understand, but contextualizing the concept may be harder to grasp for some. In this context, by pure James means untainted. By untainted, we are to understand that anyone purporting to impart wisdom must be in harmony with the word of God if their wisdom is to pass the test as to whether it originates from above.

The litmus test ought not to be whether it sounds good to the ears, whether it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, whether it bears witness to you, which is a wholly made-up Western concept, but whether what you are hearing is Biblical. Does it harmonize with the Word of God, does it echo the Bible, or is it something outside the bounds of the written Word?

If it’s not pure, you can skip all the other things because you will discover that if it is not pure, it won’t be peaceable, gentle, yielding, or all the other things that wisdom from above ought to be.

The second thing to look for is that the wisdom you are considering allowing into your heart is peaceable. Some among us look for reasons to be offended, upset, or otherwise jilted because, in their minds, it justifies them being contentious and disagreeable. Some people you just can’t please, and you shouldn’t even try.

I’m too old and fluffy to try to walk on eggshells, so the only metric and standard I will live by, especially when sharing my thoughts, is that they are biblically based, rooted in the Word, and peaceable to the best of my ability. Peaceable and agreeable mean different things. I may not be able to be agreeable all the time because there are things I disagree with, so I must make my stance known, but as far as being peaceable is concerned, I strive for it daily.

I don’t go looking for controversy or new foes. Unless someone is truly egregious and poses a danger to the sheep, I shy away from naming names, but that does not mean we do not defend the truth, the gospel, or the Lordship of Christ.

There are salvific issues that we must stand firm on because the Bible stands firm on them, and then there are non-salvific issues that we can discuss and debate, but we must always do so peaceably, with gentleness and a willingness to yield. This means that I don’t have to agree with you on tertiary matters necessarily, but I don’t break fellowship with you and start screaming Ichabod just because we don’t agree on them. We’re still brothers and sisters in Christ, even if we see some non-salvific issues differently. It’s okay to agree to disagree. Yes, I know, everyone likes being right all the time, but at what cost?

It’s not worth winning an argument and losing a friendship if the argument is not over a salvific issue you don’t see eye to eye on. I’ve seen too many people disfellowship themselves from other believers because of something tertiary, like wearing a wedding band or saying Jesus in English rather than Hebrew.

The children of darkness are coming for the children of light, and they will be ruthless in their pursuit. If we have to fight a battle on two fronts, both from without and within, we will lose and do so in a spectacular fashion. Not only does the Bible tell us what to look for when it comes to wisdom from above, but it also tells us the telltale signs to look for when identifying a worthless person or a wicked man. Learn which is which so you might not be caught up in endless squabbles leading nowhere.

Proverbs 6:12-15, “A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; He winks with his eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points his fingers; Perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord. Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Monday, January 15, 2024


 If I go to the store and purchase a gallon of milk, come home, and instead of milk, the jug is filled with vinegar, I have every right to be upset, go back to the store, and return the mislabeled product. For the most part, vendors get it right, and when you buy something labeled milk, milk is what you get, but there have been instances when either the machinery went awry, or an inattentive employee hit the wrong button, and you don’t get what you paid for, what you expected, or what the signage on the box insisted was inside.

The packaging is irrelevant. What’s inside counts. What’s inside determines the value of something and not the box itself. If you have children, you know how frustrating it is to see them open a birthday present you paid good money for and then proceed to play with the box as though that was the prize. You try to get them to play with the dollhouse you’ve managed to put together after an hour’s worth of trying to fit hinge A into slot B, but the box is more entertaining to them, at least for the time being.

We take something being as advertised for granted until it’s not. When our expectations are not met, we react negatively because we feel as though we were bamboozled and someone, whether intentionally or otherwise, tried to hoodwink us.

I’ve heard horror stories of parents buying the hot toy of the season for their child from a third party only to get home, open the box, and find a brick inside instead of a video game console.

It doesn’t matter how well you wrap it or how much glitter and bows you put on it; eventually, what’s inside will have to be made visible to the world and either confirm that the contents were as advertised or they weren’t. It’s why we have such an aversion to individuals who profess Christ and turn out to be nothing more than sleazy opportunists who use Him to advance themselves without ever knowing Him, loving Him, or obeying Him. We feel like we got scammed and don’t like that feeling, especially when we look up to the individual and perhaps even aspire to be like them someday.

If the old man is still in there, eventually, he will bubble to the surface. Eventually, he will come out, whether in word or action and befoul the reputation of any individual who thought they could get away with putting on a show and masquerade. The difference between a real Christian and a pretend one is that the inward parts match the outer actions. They are not a bad tree pretending to grow good fruit but a good tree producing good fruit.

To those who think fruit doesn’t matter, remember, it was Jesus who said that every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. It’s not an autostereogram. If you squint at what Jesus said and look at it from a different angle, it won’t say something different.

I don’t know about you, but if I was someone just playing church, playing at being saved, playing at being sanctified, thinking I could get away with it because so many others are, then happened upon the words of Jesus, I’d be downright terrified.

You can Hillsong all the day long and still be told to depart. You can even call Him Lord and still be told He never knew you. We cannot overlook biblical realities simply because they make the lukewarm uncomfortable.

James 3:13-16, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”

There is godly wisdom, and then there is demonic wisdom. There is wisdom that descends from above; then there is wisdom that is earthly and sensual, leading to confusion, strife, and every evil thing. You know the source of a thing by the results it produces. If a certain wisdom produces bitter envy, self-seeking, and confusion, then you know the source thereof by the fruit it produced in a congregation, a family, or an individual.

The wisdom that comes from above is neither self-seeking nor will it lie against the truth to gain an advantage. It is pure. It is meek and conducts its works in humility because it knows the source from whence it flows and that no matter how grand or intricate the vessel is, it’s still just a vessel. The contents give the vessel value, and the moment the vessel loses sight of this truth, it corrupts its purpose.

If you find yourself in a situation and conclude that what you would say is different than what Jesus would say, and what you would do is different than what the Holy Spirit would lead you to do, and you pick you over Him, then your wisdom does not descend from above, and what’s more, you know better yet still choose to walk in your path rather than His.

How simple things would be if there were no self-serving men in the pulpit. How effective would the church be if the message were singularly Christ rather than our particular denominational flavor and insistence that to get to Christ, you must pass through us? Those who came before us changed the world because they were not the focus of their work and endeavors but rather Christ. Then again, what did they know? They died broke, bleeding, bruised, and broken, and not a single Christian university is named after them.

God and man measure success very differently. Whose eyes do you want to be successful in?

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.