Wednesday, February 28, 2024


 When you submit to one, you are automatically in conflict with the other. If it helps anyone to understand it better, your heart only has room for one master, and it cannot divide itself into a duplex. Your heart isn’t an investment rental that you can divvy up to get more income out of. One tenant is all it can hold, and you get to choose the tenant. Either you submit to God and are in enmity with the devil, or you surrender your heart to sin and are in enmity with God.

It’s not complicated, but we complicate it. The reason we complicate it is that our hearts are not wholly surrendered to God, our minds are not wholly submitted to His will, and we are tempted every time someone comes around and insists we can make a little side income off book, and no one will ever have to know. Just for a little while, they promise. All they need is a room with a bed, and they’ll pay cash, and no one has to know. It takes one yes, and by the time you realize what you’ve done, there’s a hole in the living room floor, which is now being used as a fire pit; the walls are spray-painted black, they’ve brought in a dozen more friends, and when you try to evict them, they threaten to kill you.

That’s what sin does in the hearts of men. It begins as a benign, timid, shy thing, but once you let it in, the mask comes off, and you see the fangs, and the talons and all the niceties are long forgotten because they were a ruse. That first high turns into something you’re always chasing but never catching. That first glance turns into such an abusive, unhealthy relationship that if he doesn’t hit you on a given day, you wonder if he’s fallen out of love with you. Sin corrupts. Even things that seem wholesome at first get corrupted by sin because that is its function and purpose.

Where they end up shouldn’t surprise anyone who starts down the road of sin and depravity, but somehow, it always does. No one ever sets out to end up homeless, toothless, riddled with disease, and having to struggle to take in a lungful of air, but they do. Even if they have enough loved ones around them to set them straight, get them help, send them to rehab, and keep them from relapsing, the success stories are so few and far between that those who make it get lauded as being of superhuman will.

Nobody wants to end up where sin and rebellion take them, and everyone talks themselves into believing that they’ll be the exception. They’ll be the ones that can play with fire and not get burned. They’ll be the one that will do the devil’s bidding when they think God isn’t watching and pretend at righteousness when He is. If anyone was unaware, God is always watching, and you can’t trick Him into believing you’re something that you’re not.

Those who thought they could pull the wool over God’s eyes will stand before Him one day and have a laundry list ready for Him to peruse as evidence that they knew Him, but alas, He did not know them, and that’s the plumb line. That’s the litmus test. That’s the pass and fail of it all, whether He knew you and not if you knew of Him.

No, I’m not being mean-spirited, unloving, or unkind; I’m being direct and Biblical. Just because the world has redefined directness to mean callous and insensitive, it doesn’t make it so. How could I dare to say I love you in Christ if I did not tell you the truth? Would I not be proven a liar by omitting what the Bible says?

Not only does James tell us what we must do, but he also tells us how we go about doing it. It’s easy to tell someone to draw near to God, and He will draw near to you, but how we go about doing that is a different matter altogether.

It’s like someone asking me how they can save money on their electric bill and me telling them to find another source of electricity. All well and good, thanks for the advice, but how exactly do I do that?

It is by cleaning our hands and purifying our hearts that we draw nearer to God. If you want more of God, you must retain less of the flesh until none of the flesh exists, and all that remains is God. We appropriate the blood of Jesus because it’s the only thing that will make us clean, but we must endeavor to wash our hands and purify our hearts. There must be an active desire to draw nearer to God and a willingness to do all that is required to achieve that desired result.

Righteousness and holiness unto God are not take-it-or-leave-it propositions or something we’re willing to pursue when the temptations being proffered are not up to a certain type of standard. I’m not married to my wife only insofar as someone younger comes along, as long as she retains her looks, or as long as she is in pristine health; she is my wife until death do us part, and it is the vow I made long ago.

Those who serve God only because they believe He will prosper them, bless them, or give them that promotion at work will stop doing so as soon as they get what they desire or when what they want doesn’t materialize. Those who serve God because He is the Lord of their lives and have a genuine desire to draw nearer to Him will continue to do so no matter their situation, circumstance, or condition. Everyone knows which type of Christian they are; the hard part is admitting it to themselves and taking steps to remedy the situation if remedy is required.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, February 27, 2024


 Even Jesus had to resist the devil. I know it’s something those with certain denominational bends would rather forget, dismiss, or otherwise whitewash, but Jesus had to actively resist the devil in order for the devil to flee. It’s troubling how readily we cherry-pick the scriptures that allow for a particular lifestyle, a certain mindset, and a certain level of commitment, or lack thereof. We dismiss what Jesus said and what Jesus did because we like the way Paul phrased it more, even though to make what Paul said fit our narrative, we have to butcher the text and only quote half a verse.

One thing I’ve noticed from studying Christ’s encounter with the devil is that the more direct, to the point, and definitive your renunciation of him is, the more apt he is to flee and stay gone. We can’t be halfhearted in our resistance. We can’t resist the devil only when others are watching, but in the dark of night, we go looking for the same temptations we resisted only a few hours prior because it made us look spiritual in the eyes of others.

When you resist the devil, you resist him completely. You don’t resist just because the guy trying to get your number isn’t handsome enough or the girl making advances isn’t your type. You resist when afforded the opportunity to sin with your mind’s ideal, whether that ideal is Fabio or Frodo. People have types; it is what it is. The point is that some people feel mighty invincible when they resist the devil’s C-List advances, but when he sends in his A-listers, they sing another tune.

Become an individual accustomed to resisting the devil and one who can readily identify when the devil is at work. It can be a small thing that can snowball into a big thing if you don’t actively resist it, and given that the enemy knows where our sensitive areas are, he is quick to press them over and over again.

If I’ve ever given anyone the impression that I am perfect, it was not my intent. My sensitive area is slow drivers and overly aggressive drivers, depending on whether I have my girls in the car or not. I grew up learning to drive in California, then spent almost a decade driving two-lane roads in Romania, where every drive is an adventure and potentially your last. When I’m by myself, my feet tend to get heavy, leaden even, and since I’m always on my way somewhere and I like to be punctual, I don’t subscribe to driving under the speed limit.

It seems as though all the octogenarians with eye problems get the same signal simultaneously, and it’s when I’m leaving to go somewhere. Fifteen in a forty-five? Why, please, and thank you! I’ve come to realize that something as seemingly innocuous as someone crawling along in front of me or my having to swerve to not get t-boned can serve to sour my mood and shift my focus toward the negative. I’ve come to recognize the situations for what they are, and I will not allow myself to get angry or aggressive, knowing that it’s just the devil probing, being petty, and trying to distract me in some small way.

The same goes for when I have my girls in the car, and I’m as law-abiding as a guy out on parole who knows he’s done something naughty. Their safety is my primary concern, and getting wherever we’re going in a timely fashion is a distant second. It’s in those moments that the guy in the Dodge Charger with a death wish zips by at eighty miles an hour, passing on my right, giving me death stares as though I was responsible for him getting kicked in the head by a mule when he was a kid.

I recognize it for what it is and don’t take the bait. I don’t rise to the challenge, and it passes just as readily as it came. It may seem a small thing, but I’ve seen the aftermaths of enough road rage incidents to know that it can snowball into a big thing.

Be aware that the enemy probes every area of your life every moment of every day, looking for a chink in your armor, a way to get at you, and plant a seed that will grow into a sycamore.

I have a preacher friend who did a conference not far from where I live, and I went to hear him speak one of the evenings he was scheduled to be there. Ask any preacher, and if they’re honest, they’ll tell you that some sermons land better than others. If they’re remotely aware of their surroundings, they’ll be able to feel the audience and gauge whether the message is received or rejected, accepted or ignored. They know it when it happens. My friend gave a good sermon. The people were hungry, receptive, and eager, and the message was anointed.

When he was done, and we were standing in the back catching up, one of the men who’d attended came up to him and said, “I just want to shake your hand and say that was amazing. It was a great sermon.”

My friend shakes the man’s hand, and rather than thanking him, he says, “I know; the devil already whispered it in my ear as I was walking off the stage.”

It was an eye-opening exchange for me because he recognized that as well-intentioned as flattery was, he was prone to pride and would not allow the seed of it to be planted in his heart in the least.

Humility will keep you grounded. Giving all glory to God for anything He might do through you will keep you from allowing the enemy to plant a seed, and knowing when he is attempting to worm his way into your heart and resisting him will keep you from having to root out those things hard to remove once they’ve burrowed in and bloomed.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

Onus III

 If I’d ever had to work for someone, I’m sure I would have been remanded to sensitivity training by now. Either that or fired outright, because I don’t suffer fools, and everything in life, save for a couple of things, are binary choices that most people choose to complicate to feel self-important or be able to justify their victimhood.

When it comes to being a child of God, either you are, or you aren’t. When it comes to submitting, obeying, and doing what He has commanded you to do to receive what He has for you, either you are, or you aren’t. It's binary. Only two paths are possible. No third option exists.

It’s only when the unscrupulous realized there was an opportunity to be exploited that the niche market of ‘spiritual people’ was created, where it was proffered that you can be spiritual without being saved, you can know a higher power without knowing the God of the Bible, and a special class, a whole new heaven, an entire religious concept was created out of whole cloth, and no one batted an eye. Prayer was replaced with positive affirmations, obeying God by trusting your feelings, and submitting to God by following your heart. Dante ain’t got nothing on us when it comes to the hell we can create for ourselves when we think we are as God doing as we will, believing that the tab will never come due.

You have a bunch of dopey people talking about how they are very spiritual and that when they die, they will ascend to the oneness of the universe, meld into the eternal mind, and return to some sort of hub or nexus where all the gods you could ever imagine will share an antechamber. Everyone will have a space reserved exclusively for themselves so they can bask in the glory of Zippy, the Space Lord, their deity of choice.

These are people who didn’t want to submit to God, who didn’t want Jesus as Lord, but who needed some sort of assurance that when they pass, it will be to something akin to heaven, but not quite heaven because they’re not willing to give up the things of the flesh in order to acquire heaven.

All I can do is tell people what the Bible says. Whether they follow through and do as instructed is wholly up to them. I know; choices and accountability-who’d have thunk it? The world is currently in the mess it's in because a small number convinced a large number that they can live consequence-free and do as they will without repercussions. By the time they realized it was a lie, an impossibility, it was too late, and now they are cogs in a machine that seeks their destruction.

Being humble today is considered counterculture. You have to be brash, and in your face; you have to claw your way to the limelight and nail yourself to the floorboards once you’ve arrived. You have to tell everyone about how great you are just in case they haven’t figured it out. People need to see your uniqueness, glom on to your brand, idolize you, and tell others you’re the bee’s knees, and in all that push for personal relevance, Jesus gets lost in the shuffle. Now, do you understand why humbling yourself in the sight of the Lord is so important? Now, do you see why it is one of the requirements James highlights as a necessary virtue?

Forced submission is bondage. There is no love in forced submission; this is why God will never force someone to submit to Him or humble themselves. Yes, there are occasions where God humbles us, but humbling oneself and being humbled are two different things, which, although similar sounding, are not.

I know it’s a stretch, but humor me. If I walk into a gym and put six plates on each side of a bench press bar, get under it, and try to lift it, chances are I’d crush my trachea and hope someone will come along to save me from myself. Having tried and failed spectacularly, I was humbled.

If, however, I walk into a gym and acknowledge that I can’t push that kind of weight and limit the number of plates I pack onto the bar to one or two, then I was humble enough to acknowledge my shortcomings and didn’t need to be humbled.

Sometimes, God needs to humble us for our own good, but it’s an object lesson, a learning opportunity, something we are meant to grow from. Unless you are willingly and willfully participating in humbling yourself in the sight of the Lord, you will bristle and balk and be an otherwise bitter servant who drags his feet and does the least he can get away with without being reprimanded.

There is a caveat to humbling oneself, a promise God makes, and that is if we humble ourselves and follow through with the intention of doing it and actually do it, He will lift us up. How, how high, or the manner in which God will lift us up is uncertain, but one thing is beyond doubt: when God lifts a man up, it is in such a way and to such heights that the individual himself could never have achieved it no matter how hard he tried.

When God lifts you up, there’s no scrambling for the limelight, no clawing your way to the middle, no undermining others just so you get ahead, no underhanded tricks, no machinations, just God elevating a man above his station, above anything he could have envisioned given where he started.

When God lifts up the humble man, he doesn’t have to fret or worry about reach, branding, and all the other foolish things of the world that have seeped into the church. The only thing he has to contend with is to submit to God, draw near to Him, and walk in humility. God takes care of the rest. It’s what He promised.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Onus II

 If you’ve been running through the mud all morning, with the requisite slips and tumbles, and come into the house, the first thing you do is wash yourself and make yourself clean. It’s a simple concept, one that the older you get, the more likely you are to practice regularly, but anyone with children can attest that it’s one of the most challenging things to convince your children of.

They come in from playing outside, and you can barely tell what color their skin is; they’re covered in what you hope is mud, but we have enough squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and deer running around that you can never tell, and when you tell them to go and wash their hands, they look at you like you just got dropped onto your head.

“But they’re not dirty,” is usually the answer, to which you point to the mud and bits of grass and other things covering their hands and under their nails.

“You can’t sit down to lunch looking like that,” you insist, “go wash up, then come eat.”

Grudgingly, ever so grudgingly, they do as they’re told, leaving a ring around the sink that would make a mechanic proud. When you ask them if they can tell the difference, they usually respond that it wasn’t so bad.

James lays out one precept, building upon another, so that you go from submitting to God to resisting the devil, to the devil fleeing from you, and once he has fled, proceed to cleanse your hands and purify your heart.

If anyone can honestly say that they are not sinners or double-minded while still living in the world, as the world, and for the world, then they don’t have to follow through with cleansing their hands and purifying their hearts. Still, it’s highly doubtful that anyone would say something like that and mean it.

Are we not double-minded when we say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus,” with one breath, then go about ensuring our lifelong comfort with the next? Are we not double-minded when we ask God to show us His ways, only to balk at them when He does?

Friendship with the world makes us enemies of God, but somehow, we talk ourselves into believing that God will overlook it. We’re such good friends to have around that God will have to make allowances and share us with the world. There’s no deception more difficult to rid oneself of than self-deception. When someone deceives us, it’s one thing. We shrug it off, avoid the person, perhaps warn others about them, but when we deceive ourselves, it becomes an issue of pride. Surely, we could not have been so myopic as not to have seen it. Surely, it’s beyond us to be deceived in such a manner.

This is why the Word of God must be the final arbiter, the final authority, and have the final say. While we humans can err, God and His word cannot.

The reason there is so much confusion in the camp, the reason there are ten thousand voices saying ten thousand different things, and most people don’t know who to believe, is because they’ve not done the first thing James instructs us to do, which is submit to God. Ten or twenty years of going to church and sitting in a pew, people are still talking about their feelings when it comes to what the Word of God says.

I don’t care how you feel about a given thing; if the Bible says you must do it, then you do it. Your feelings don’t come into play; they are not part of the equation because the Bible never says if you feel like repenting, repent, or if you feel like obeying, obey.

We’ve brought so many worldly concepts into the church and have spiritualized so many things that have nothing to do with spirituality; we’ve pandered to so many for so long that nowadays, quoting the Bible is revolutionary in the church. We feel the need to qualify, quantify, and have a disclaimer regarding scripture, and heavens help you if you don’t. The Cat Mom Alliance and Beth Moore fan club will be out for blood.

Reading the Word of God in a church setting ought not to be an act of courage, and the fact that it’s deemed as such tells us all we need to know about how far the church has fallen from the way of truth.

I’ve had people ask me why they don’t feel saved after years of sitting in a contemporary church, and when I ask if they’ve repented, submitted to God, drawn near to Him, or purified their hearts, they answer that they walked the isle once when they were teenagers.

Everyone wants eternity, but nobody wants to do anything for it. We all want to claim we’re friends of God, but only in certain settings, only when it benefits us, and only when we have something to gain from the relationship. If, perchance, that friendship begins to cost us something, anything, whether the loss of the world’s acceptance or the praise of faux-friends, we back-pedal, guffaw, and deny Him as readily as Peter before the rooster crowed.

We are living the very definition of Laodicea in our modern era but somehow have the shamelessness to insist that we are the pinnacle of all that is spiritual and divine. God broke the mold when He made you sister Beth; there’s never been another so powerful and strong. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad: fools encouraging other fools to continue in their foolishness, insisting that they see themselves as different from the fools they are. Don’t believe your lying eyes; whatever you do, don’t believe them, but eventually, you’ll have to because sooner or later, the realization will dawn that distasteful as it may be, you’ve been seeing the truth of it all along.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, February 24, 2024


 Taking personal responsibility for anything has become anathema not only to those in the world but far too many within the church as well. Whenever anyone brings up the idea of accountability or that the onus for certain things is on us as individuals when it comes to a true and lasting relationship with God, we bristle and balk, obfuscate and deny, thinking that if we can be loud enough, if we can get enough people on our side, then it will make the truth void.

It’s always someone else’s fault when things go wrong. It’s always someone else’s doing when we don’t experience the intimacy we were promised because we heard it clear enough: all we had to do was touch our TV screen, send in a check, and we would know the fullness of the power of God. We would feel the Holy Spirit coursing through our veins; we would level up and be able to declare, bind up and loose, cast down, and build up as we will. No more humbling ourselves in the sight of the Lord. No more denying ourselves and picking up our crosses; we would ascend to our rightful places. Bring on my rod of iron; I’ve got some smiting to do!

Our participation in any of it was not required. We are too busy to add something like growing in God to our ever-burgeoning schedule, so all we needed to do was consent to being transformed. It was supposed to be God’s job to do everything else. As such, anyone who mentioned repentance was shunned and became persona non grata. Being a child of God is all well and good, but not if it comes at a cost. No, sir, we will not believe that report, even though it is rooted in Scripture.

James 4:7-10, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

What James reiterates may not be popular, but it is Biblical. Usually, the more popular something is, the less Biblical it is, especially in our day and age, so if we gauge something by its popularity, chances are we will believe things that have no Scriptural basis or foundation.

The first thing James counsels is that we submit to God. Partial submission is total rebellion, so when we submit to God, we do so wholly, completely, in every area in which He has a say. We can’t submit to God only in the easy things, but even those that would peel back the flesh and cause us great discomfort when we do them.

Doing the easy thing is easy. We gravitate toward the easy things because we know they do not require much exertion or sacrifice. It’s why the one pill every morning to get back to your beach body pills are so popular because they require so little of us as individuals. You don’t have to exercise, and you don’t have to watch what you eat. Just pop a pill in the morning, and it will undo all the abuse you’ve foisted upon yourself for the past two decades. They must work; they come with a money-back guarantee, so anyone who says differently is just a naysayer. When you dare to point out that if they did work as advertised, obesity wouldn’t be raging out of control in the West, they just call you misinformed and go back to their stuffed crust family-size meat lover’s pizza.

If all James instructed was to submit to God, then I could see myself going along with the idea that all one really needs to do is consent to being made clean, but he continues in his letter and points out a handful of other things we must do, and explains why we must do them.

After submitting ourselves to God, it is our duty to resist the devil. When we’ve submitted to God and resisted the devil, then the devil will flee. The word resist is a verb. A verb is a word used to describe an action. When James counsels us to resist the devil, he is not encouraging us to be passive but to actively withstand the actions of the enemy and the effects thereof.

I’ve heard it asked once why God doesn’t make men stop sinning, and the answer is that it’s man’s job to resist the devil that he might flee. When you withstand the devil's actions, God will give you the strength to continue doing so. When the devil sees that he is actively being resisted, he will flee because he knows that he can’t force someone to sin. Contrary to popular belief, the devil can’t make you do it; he can just present you with the opportunity. You choose whether to resist him or give in. You choose whether to withstand his temptations or surrender to the impulses of the flesh.

It’s easier to blame the devil and insist he made us do something or another than to admit that we failed to withstand him and that in our struggle, we did not resist unto blood striving against sin.

The onus is on us to draw near to God. The onus is on us to resist the devil. The onus is on us to make sure that we are doing what the Word of God insists we must so that we might obtain what it promises we would.

If you’ve never obeyed God, followed through, done what He commanded you to do, and remained consistent in it, you can’t blame Him for your failures, shortcomings or for His not having revealed Himself fully to you. It’s not a God problem; it’s a me problem, and the only thing that will fix it is humble obedience.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

The Secret

 It’s only a secret to those who think they can coerce or somehow twist God’s arm into giving them what they want, but for anyone else who’s read the Bible once or twice, it’s no secret at all. The way we get the things we ask for from God is to ask for the things that are pleasing to God. The way we receive is to ask according to His will and plan for our life, and we will receive all that we ask for abundantly. How we come about doing that is drawing nearer to Him. The nearer you draw to God, and the nearer He draws to you, the things you desire will no longer originate from your flesh but from your spiritual man. Your spiritual man, in turn, will desire those things that will aid him in growing and simultaneously mortifying the flesh all the more, and because you desire the things of God and not of this world, His hand will always be open to you.

The idea that we can guilt trip, blackmail, or coerce God into doing our bidding is foolhardy and childish. My daughters used to do that, but they grew out of it. It seems some Christians haven’t. We can’t go before God with the equivalent of “I cleaned my room, now can I watch some TV?” That’s not the way it works, and that’s not the kind of relationship God wants with His children.

My daughters know full well that there is no television watching on weekdays, and on Saturday mornings, they get thirty minutes of something wholesome like Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry. We limit the amount of screen time because we love our children, not because we’re trying to be needlessly harsh, mean, or intent on keeping them from achieving true happiness. They are children. Their understanding is limited, and even though they pout and huff when they are told no, it must be so because the momentary satisfaction of sitting in front of a screen will have long-term repercussions throughout their life.

Back before they realized we were serious about it, the little one would put her hands on her hips, huff through her nose, and say, “That’s not fair! You always say no. Why do you do that?” to which I would answer, “Because you always ask the same question!”

If they’d asked a different question or had a different request, perhaps they would have gotten a different answer. If they’d wanted to read books, draw, go outside, and play instead of watching television, I would have told them they could do those things to their heart’s content.

If you keep asking God the same question, you’ll receive the same answer. Don’t grow bitter and angry because God is being consistent; ask a different question, and perhaps you will receive a different answer from Him.

Always remember that you are His, and He loves you. James is trying to get this point across and does an excellent job. It’s not because God can’t give what we’re asking for; it’s because we ask amiss. We ask for the wrong things, the things that will do nothing to grow us spiritually, and for our own good, God says no.

It took a while for my daughters to understand the truth of it, and it’s taking the modern-day church longer than it took my daughters. God is not a genie in a bottle. You don’t get your wishes granted by doing the equivalent of rubbing the bottle with prayers.

Sometimes, God has to say no for your own good. He has to deny your request because He knows where granting it will lead. Because we’ve redefined what God’s desire for His children is, we feel as though we are constantly at odds with Him and that He is not keeping up His end of the bargain.

If you believe that God’s desire for you is to be happy, rich, and comfortable in this world, you believe a lie. That’s not to say God wants you to be poor, ill at ease, and miserable, but the way your flesh feels during the little time you are here is irrelevant to Him. God’s purpose for you and me was laid out in the most often quoted Bible passage ever, and it’s simple enough for anyone to understand.

John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

If whatever you’re asking for would in any way hinder you from not perishing but having everlasting life, then God saying no to it is a blessing and a grace. The purpose of Jesus being given isn’t so we could brag about cars and watches and diamond rings; the purpose of Jesus being given is so we might have everlasting life.

Mark 8:36-38, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

These are two questions the prosperity pimps never seem to consider. They are two questions they avoid at all costs because the answers would be detrimental to the fallacious doctrine they’ve built up over the years.

The finish line isn’t fame or fortune. The finish line isn’t getting that new car or that new house. The finish line, the goal, the purpose of it all is everlasting life. The entire point of the exercise is not to perish but to be with Him in heaven throughout eternity. Anyone whose message and focus is something other than eternity falls short of the great commission to preach the gospel and make disciples of those who heed the call to repentance.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Remedies III

 God is not indifferent to the proud. He actively resists them. There is a difference, and not a very subtle or nuanced one, between God actively resisting someone and God merely being indifferent toward them, their actions, and their existence. To put it mildly, God is not a fan of pride. It’s corrosive, destructive, and deadly. Just ask Lucifer.

Pride and servanthood do not mix. Being a proud bondservant of Jesus is just as diametrically opposed as saying you ran across a cold sun, or hot snow. Once one of these things is combined with the other, it changes the nature of it, making it something other than what it was. Hot snow is no longer snow but melted snow that has been turned into boiling water. As far as a cold sun is concerned, that would be the moon, and it’s very different than the sun.

Not only will God not give grace to the proud, but He will actively resist them. The humble, however, He blesses with grace because they acknowledge a need that only His presence in their lives can meet. Once that need is met, the humble do not take credit for their breakthrough or having escaped the shackles of their sin but give all glory and credit to God, as it should be.

Churches today are filled to the brim with spiritual adulterers and adulteresses, and no one calls them on it because the elder board has mortgages to pay and bonuses to dole out, so they are unwilling to upset the apple cart and call it what it is. For every new fad or perversion, we make a new allowance, we carve out an exemption, and we insist that everyone else go along. Otherwise, we will label them unloving. The enemy already knows that compromise has become a mainstay of the modern-day church, so he is pushing the envelope with ever greater fervor, to the point that good and evil become interchangeable, and sin deemed a relic of the past that will nevermore be mentioned among the religious class.

It’s hard to call others to repentance when you, yourself, are living a life of debauchery. It’s hard to tell others to love their wives as Christ loved the church and cherish them for better or worse when you’ve been seeing the new secretary and have already filed divorce papers from your wife of thirty years. Whether they can justify it anecdotally by pointing to some other pastor or preacher who likewise did it, it still does not make it Biblical, nor does it mean that God approves of it. Compromised leaders lead to compromised congregations, and we’ve only just begun to see the damage wrought on what we deem the household of faith.

Why should I submit to God when, for most denominations, that is no longer a prerequisite? I could say because the Bible says to, but you already know the truth of it, and I don’t have to beat a dead horse just to make a point.

The church is in the shape it is in because the opinions of men took precedence over the Word of God. We did not resist the proud as God does, but gave them platforms and praise, deferred to them on spiritual matters while rejecting the Bible, and followed them off the cliff because, unlike the Word, they didn’t insist that we should resist the devil but that we could call a truce, a ceasefire, an armistice, and learn to coexist.

James is laying out the basics. This isn’t special forces; this is basic training. First, humble yourself. Second, submit to God. Third, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Once you’ve done that, once you’ve resisted the devil and he has fled, the next step is to draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Stopping short along the way and not following through in the outlined order will not garner you the desired results. You make the dough before you put the sauce on it, put the sauce on the dough before you put on the cheese, and complete the pizza before you throw it in the oven. You don’t pick the order in which you do it. There is an explicit order in the Word, and we would do well to follow it.

But I want to draw close to God first then I’ll resist the devil and submit myself to Him. I need some sort of proof, some sort of promissory note. God needs to woo me first, then I’ll consider humbling myself. Once again, that’s not the way it works. Even if you really want it to work, even if you think it may, going out of sequence will keep you spinning your wheels and experiencing little, if any, of the presence of God in your life.

But what about Paul? Exceptions to the rule are just that. The same goes for the thief on the cross. You can’t point to the one time someone didn’t die from biting down on a live wire and use it as the standard, insisting that it’s safe.

In trying to do it out of sequence, in trying to make it up as we go along, and playing it by ear, we’ve proven to everyone that we’ve neither humbled ourselves nor submitted to God. Our pride still has free reign, and it is the pride of man that thinks it knows better than God. It is the pride of man that thinks God will have to bend to his will rather than him bending to God’s will.

Before you start screaming it’s not working, check to see if you followed the directions and did it in the order it was prescribed in the Word. Chances are you didn’t. If you had, you’d be at the point where you drew near to God, and He drew near to you, and you understood true love for the first time in your life.

When God says, “This is the way; walk in it,” and we decide to hoof it on the rocky terrain, we can’t blame Him when we twist our ankles and scrape our knees. That’s when we choose to return to the path He has made smooth or stubbornly press on through the shrubs and the thickets away from our destination.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Remedies II

 Your yesterday may not define your tomorrow, but your tomorrow cannot be a carbon copy of your yesterday. If your natural state is being defeated, dragged through the mud, just holding your breath, hoping you make it through another day, for that to change, you must do something different today than you did yesterday. We keep doing the same thing, expecting different results, and when they don’t materialize, we get all the more dour, despondent, and deflated.

It’s a downward spiral, and the only way to break the descent is to reach out and grab the arm that’s reaching for you. Jesus is always reaching; not everyone grasps His hand. Some think they can stop their freefall on their own. Others believe that Jesus may bruise their arms while holding onto them, and they’d rather be crushed by the stones below than humble themselves and admit they need help.

With each passing day, the flesh grows stronger, and it becomes more difficult for the individual in question to call out for help, to admit he needs it, or to lay aside his pride and surrender. While the flesh grows stronger, the spiritual man grows weaker and malnourished. This is why the longer someone practices habitual sin, the more difficult it is for them to wrench themselves free of their addiction or habit and run into the arms of Jesus. The devil doesn’t want you free; Jesus does. The devil doesn’t want you whole; Jesus does. The devil doesn’t want you clean; Jesus does. The devil doesn’t want you to have life and have it more abundantly; Jesus does.

There is a way to prevent the flesh from growing stronger, asserting control, and undermining your spiritual growth. In fact, it is a running theme throughout the New Testament and echoed by every contributor to its pages, including Jesus. That said, in recent years, it has fallen out of favor because humility has become something we try to avoid rather than embrace, and humbling ourselves is seen as weakness rather than virtue.

James 4:6-10, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

The remedy for every deficiency we might have, for anything that might ail us, is encapsulated in these four verses. It doesn’t take a degree, higher learning, or diplomas; it only takes a willingness to follow through. God’s prescription is clear, but you have to take the medicine.

I have a friend who was diagnosed with high blood pressure the last time he went in for a physical, and the doctor prescribed something for it. A few weeks later, as he was rubbing his chest and saying he was not feeling his best, I asked him if he’d been taking his meds, and he said he hadn’t gotten around to filling the prescription yet.

God tells us what we must do to grow our spiritual man. He tells us what we need to do to have more grace. He tells us what we need to do for Him to draw near to us, but we must follow through and do as He instructs.

If you’ve not done as He instructs, try doing it before insisting that God no longer moves as He once moved or draws near to His children as He once did. The level of hubris required for someone to insist that God has gone against His word, His nature, and His promises all so He can accommodate one man’s preconceived notion that God simply doesn’t do those things anymore is beyond my ability to fathom.

Just because we are too lazy to follow through doesn’t mean God doesn’t do those things anymore. If the enemy has bruised you, it wasn’t because he was stronger than God; it’s because you did not resist him to the point that he fled. Running into the devil’s arms isn’t resisting him. Playing with sin as though it were not deadly isn’t resisting him. Convincing ourselves that we will strive against the darkness come tomorrow, isn’t resisting him.

Most people don’t overcome because they have no desire to. They don’t overcome because their sin has already overcome them, and they must be rescued from it before they can acknowledge how damaging it was for them. While they’re in it, it is pleasurable. While they’re in it, they do not consider the adverse effects of sin on their spiritual man and, in most instances, their quality of life.

The first steps to restoration, healing, wholeness, and freedom are to humble ourselves and submit to God. We humble ourselves by acknowledging we need help, that we can’t do it on our own, and that we are rudderless save for His intervention. By doing what He instructs and commands, by repenting, and by turning our back on the things that once consumed us, we submit to Him.

Some people do well enough with the first part. They humble themselves and acknowledge their need for help, but it’s the second part they have a problem with. They still want to be the captain of their ship; they still want to be in control, and they want to have authority over their sin only insofar as they can choose to practice it less but still practice it all the same.

You can have one or the other. You can have God or your carnality. To think that you can have both, that you can divide your heart in such a way where one does not attempt to overthrow the other, is foolhardy and unbiblical. Choose this day whom you will serve. Choose while you still can. Choose while there is still something in you that acknowledges the road you’re on only leads to darkness and despair.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, February 19, 2024


 It’s often been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Although it can’t be proven true every time, it has an overall ring of truth. Don’t wait around to get sick and then scramble to do something about it. Rather, take preemptive measures to ensure that you’ve done what you can to keep yourself from doing the things you know will have repercussions down the road. It’s an easy thing to say; it’s a bit more challenging to do, but the older I get, and I hear the bones popping and cracking, the more inclined I am to follow through and be conscious of the things I once took for granted.

That we spend more time obsessing over our physical health than our spiritual health is telling in itself. Spiritual health deteriorates just as readily as physical health if it is not constantly cared for and matured in an environment of righteousness and holiness. What you consume spiritually matters as readily as what you consume physically, if not more so. If your diet consists of donuts, Twinkies, cookies, and pies, and you wash it all down with a sugar coffee that has no coffee in it but lots of sugar, your overall physical health will suffer eventually. Your sugar high will fall off a cliff at some point, your body will likely develop insulin resistance, and the more you keep going down that path, the worse it becomes.

When the spiritual food we consume lacks the building blocks necessary to mature our spiritual man, we are on a similar diet as we would be if all we were eating were fun cakes and cotton candy. It tastes good in the moment; it feels good as you're eating it, but fifteen minutes later, your stomach is growling, you’re still hungry, and now you’re battling a sugar coma.

It’s not hyperbole to say that we have an entire generation being raised on the spiritual version of Peeps, dragging, lethargic, unfocused, unmotivated, getting a sugar rush once in a while, then going back to sleep for a year. While we’re eating dyed marshmallows, the enemy has been refining his attacks and his ability to mimic truth to such an extent that before they know it, you have entire congregations imploding because it doesn’t take a lot of poison to kill you, a drop or two will do.

Just as one can get back into shape one day at a time if they are consistent in their endeavor, one can digress, degenerate, and grow distant one day at a time as well. What matters is the direction you’re headed in. To know which direction you’re headed in you must be honest in your self-assessment, and if change is required, do not put off until tomorrow what you should start today. Some people know they’re not where they’re supposed to be in their relationship with God; they acknowledge the reality of their situation as well as the need to change, but they get caught up in the snare of tomorrow.

It’s a brilliant last-ditch effort when you think about it. The enemy knows he’s about to lose control, that a soul is about to slip through his fingers, so he goes along. Yes, you’re right you need to change. You need to read the Bible more, pray more, fast more, and learn to hear the voice of God more, but not today. You had plans for today. You have those concert tickets or that date, or that test you were planning to have a crib sheet for. Wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow, you can start fresh. Then tomorrow comes, and it’s a repeat of today. There will always be some reason the enemy will bring up for you to delay repentance and getting serious with God. Recognize it for what it is, and don’t fall for the trap. 

There is a misconception in the Christian world that once you’ve gotten saved, as the kids like to call it, that’s all you need to do. That it isn’t the beginning of a journey but the end, replete with tinker tape and swooning spectators. You’ve reached your destination, and that’s that. No more needs to be said, no more needs to be done, and you can return to your previously scheduled program without missing a beat.

Never mind that Jesus said you must deny yourself and pick up your cross daily. Nowadays, it’s a one-and-done, in and out; raise your hand and commit to tithing to our church, and you’re saved forever! It’s not even that those people climbed halfway up the mountain then stopped; they just discovered there was a mountain to climb, stood at its base, then turned around and went back to their lives. One day, God will call every pastor, teacher, evangelist, and preacher to account for omitting the truth that salvation is a lifelong journey, not a one-time experience.

After almost forty years in ministry, I’ve encountered all kinds of people. Among them are those who got distracted, sidelined, or detoured, and what was once an individual on fire for God became barely burning embers, at risk of being put out altogether by a soft wind. It was never a sudden thing. It was always gradual, a bit here and a bit there, one compromise leading to another, and the more control the flesh asserted, the easier it became to compel the compromise. It’s the reason people say doing something you’re not supposed to do a second or third time is easier than the first time you do it. The flesh grows stronger, the spirit grows weaker, and the things the flesh leads you to do become increasingly egregious until, to your surprise and everyone else around you, you are empty, hollow, broken, and chained.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, February 18, 2024


 James doesn’t say that in certain extreme circumstances or in some cases, friendship with the world can be construed as enmity with God; he comes right out and says it and leaves no room for debate. Friendship with the world is enmity with God, every time, without fail, and without exception. If there were exceptions, the Word would have told us it was so because the last thing God wants is for His children to be confused, uncertain, and second-guessing their principles.

While some people find directness uncomfortable and off-putting, I find it refreshing. I’ve been in churches where the mindset of the world had so permeated everything that people took umbrage when someone would read a Bible verse verbatim that they didn’t agree with or that hammered at their conscience. You could see their face change as they took on a pallor, and it was all they could do to walk casually out of the sanctuary and not make a beeline for the nearest exit.

When someone speaks directly, whether from person to person or from the pulpit, they are not trying to hurt your feelings or make you uncomfortable; they are rightly dividing the Word, and it’s not something to be looked down upon and jeered but something to be appreciated and valued.

We’re surrounded by deceit and obfuscation every day. From advertising to politicians to the little old lady insisting it’s not her dog leaving little surprises on the sidewalk because her baby is civilized and would never do such a thing, lies have become such an ever-present reality that when we hear the truth, it grates, and we bristle at its directness.

Unlike the guy on TV who’s trying to sell you the equivalent of magic beans, the truth is the truth, self-contained and unyielding. It’s not looking to make a dollar off of your naiveté, it’s not looking to talk you into a timeshare, nor is it trying to ingratiate itself by deception and flattery; it just is.

Jesus came to set us free from the influence, control, and ways of the world. He didn’t come hoping we’d share a piece of our heart with Him, maybe a corner in an upper room somewhere, far away from prying eyes and our more erudite friends. It’s the way of some today. They keep Jesus locked in a room somewhere for fear of Him embarrassing them at an inopportune time, like when one needs to stand up for the truth or defend His name. We can’t have that. People don’t need to know that you’re a follower of Christ; it would just create tension, wouldn’t it?

We have enough excuses to choke a whale when it comes to not being outspoken about our faith, don’t we? We don’t like the awkwardness; what if someone unfriends us on Facebook; we don’t deal well with confrontation, and the list goes on for miles. The truth of it is that Jesus said if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. Is the rejection of your fake friends a more fearful prospect than being denied by Christ before the Father? If not, then be bold and fearless in declaring to the world that you have been redeemed, sanctified, and reconciled to God.

Perhaps if more people told the truth, if more people were honest, if more people were more concerned about the veracity of the things they say instead of whether what they say placates the individual they’re sitting across from, the world would be different, and we could all collectively say that water is wet, the sun is bright, men can’t get pregnant, and the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.

There is a difference between faithful, obedient, saved, sanctified, and religious. There are plenty of religious people in the world. You see them every weekend in their Sunday best, going through the motions and sitting in a pew, but come Monday, they blend back in with society, doing as they do, speaking as they speak, and delighting in the things they delight in. Other than that hour on Sunday, there is nothing different in what they pursue, prioritize, or are passionate about than those of the world.

What you pursue, what you devote your time to, what you devote your energy to reveal what the desire of your heart is. We can either be friends of God or friends of the world, but we can’t be both. To befriend one is to be in enmity with the other. If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. You might not want to; you might think you can play both sides against the middle or walk that fine line between not wholly God’s and not altogether worldly. However, James insists that it’s impossible.

To befriend one is to make an enemy of the other.

James 4:5, “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?”’

We make the conscious choice of pursuing either God or the world. We pursue one at the expense of the other, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not. The spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously, but the flesh has other ideas. It’s why we must always be aware of the tug and pull of both the spirit and the flesh and choose the spirit over the flesh. The flesh knows that the more you grow spiritually, the weaker it will become.

The more you seek God, the more you will turn your back on the world, and the flesh knows that once you discover the glory of God, once you discover the beauty of being in His presence, nothing the world has to offer can hold a candle. This is why the attacks come hot and heavy any time someone begins to seek after God and draw closer to Him.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, February 17, 2024


 Friendship with the world hinders us from receiving what God has reserved exclusively for His own. If we place our desire to befriend the world over our willingness to obey God, then by virtue of our actions, we declare that we are not His. It’s easy to double speak, infer, omit, and otherwise bloviate, but when the rubber meets the road, and you get down to it, that’s the reality of the situation. If everyone claiming to belong to Him were truly His, they would have everything God promised to His own.

We must determine where we want to live out our days. Do we belong to the world, or do we belong to God? Do we desire to spend our lives in His service or in the service of the flesh? You can’t have it both ways; you can’t hopscotch from one to the other when it suits you, and those to whom James was writing had found this out the hard way. They were asking, and they were not receiving, and they were ignorant of why. Perhaps some placed the blame at God’s feet, thinking His hand too short, but James, with all the gentleness of a sledgehammer, dispelled them of any such thoughts.

It wasn’t God that was the problem; it never is.

James 4:3-4, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Here, we run into the first problem with the notion of manifesting. Even though it’s become popular among Christians, that doesn’t mean it’s any more biblical than enneagrams or astrology. Whether you call it manifesting or by the more urban ‘name it and claim it,’ you still have to contend with the reality that God determines whether what you ask for is valid and whether or not it will grow your spiritual man.

What we’ve managed to do over the past few decades is convince ourselves that nothing we ask for can possibly be amiss; it’s just God who doesn’t understand that we really need that jet. Imagine all the good you’d be able to do with a plane.

James says that we ask and do not receive because what we ask for is not to further the Kingdom of God, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help the poor, or preach the gospel, but for our pleasures. Sometimes, God says no for our own good. That’s another thing we can’t fathom or come to terms with.

Anyone with children understands that it’s because you love them that you have to say no to them with the regularity of an atomic clock or a prune-rich diet. What they want usually isn’t what’s best for them, and if you give in, relent, and otherwise turn a blind eye, you’ll find that your kid just went through a six-pound bag of candy in three hours flat.

Even when you say no and explain why, they’ll still try to sneak a handful here or there if you aren’t watchful and vigilant. It’s as though there are fully grown adults walking about with the minds of children because we see this happening far too often for it to be accidental. People ask of God, and God says no, so they go and pursue the things God said no to anyway. Then, for some unexplainable reason, they turn around and blame God for their situation even though God said no to begin with. Make it make sense!

In case anyone was wondering why they had asked and not received, James clarifies the situation to the point that there can be no confusion. You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss. It’s not that God is unable, it’s not that God can’t; He chooses not to, as is His prerogative as Creator, Master, Lord, and King.

This mindset that God somehow owes us something must be purged from our midst because it can only lead to bitterness and recrimination. God owes me nothing! God owes you nothing! Everything is grace and mercy, and the sooner we let that reach the deeper recesses of our hearts, the sooner we will approach Him in a reverent and contrite manner.

We all feel some type of way about entitled people, but somehow talk ourselves into believing that God does not see entitled people in a similar fashion. His ways may not be our ways, and His thoughts may not be our thoughts, but when it comes to people who feel they are owed something simply for existing, I think the thoughts and feelings harmonize well enough.

We want God’s everything without the requisite reciprocity, and when we don’t get it because our loyalties are divided, we find a way of blaming God and demeaning His character for not doing as we demanded.

It can’t go unnoticed that the tone of James’s writing changes drastically beginning with the fourth chapter, wherein the usually mild-mannered, soft-spoken bondservant of Christ seems to have had enough of the duplicity and entitlement and people pretending to be followers of Jesus just to get something from Him. He comes out swinging and doesn’t stop, calling people who saw themselves as highly spiritual followers of the way adulterers and adulteresses.

We'll never know if they took offense at his letter, but I would be shocked and overall surprised if they hadn’t. After all, these people saw themselves as the spiritual elites of their generation who kept asking and never receiving because everything they asked for was anchored in flesh and meant to appease the desires thereof.

When you ask God for something that may ultimately lead to your destruction, don’t be surprised if He says no. If you persist in asking once He says no, ask yourself why, and if, perchance, you might not just need to repent of your desire to be friends with the world.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, February 16, 2024


 No one stays clean rolling around in mud. Once you start, you know how it’s going to end, and there’s no amount of insisting that you didn’t. Even if you win, you lose because if you manage to make the other person cry uncle, you’re covered in grime, and no matter how well you try to hide it, people will still know where you’ve been.

Some people like it. They go looking for it, hoping they can say something to get your goad and make you jump into the pit with them, and I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that in my younger years; that would have been my reaction. I rarely jumped in, but boy, did I want to. It wasn’t so much an issue of pride; it was the knowledge that I could win. I had the better argument, the more aggressive intellect, and the faster response time to any trite ad hominem attack they could muster. On more than one occasion, I had to remind myself that even if I won, I wasn’t winning anything.

The older I got, the more I realized it wasn’t worth the time it took to clean off the mud, so I avoided jumping in, and it has served me well. The only time I will get into a war of words, the only time I will come out swinging, is when someone claims I spoke things I never did or made declarations that never crossed my lips. If you have to put words in someone’s mouth to make them seem ignoble, then you’ve already failed at your mission.

James wasn’t trying to pick a fight. He wasn’t trying to get into the mud, but he felt compelled to rip the lid off this particular can of worms and see what lay beneath. Sometimes, people need a mirror placed before them in order to see the reality of what’s really there. Even then, some refuse to believe their own eyes, insisting it’s a trick of the light or one of those carnival mirrors that make them appear more hideous than they are in real life. The mirror isn’t warped; mirrors don’t lie, and neither does the Word, so man’s insistence that the reason he does not have all that God has for him is somehow God’s fault is foolish and misguided.

This was not a rebuke to one individual; this was a rebuke to the entire body. The body, being made up of members, and the members unconcerned about the body's wellbeing but rather obsessed with their individual desires, had caused those to whom James was writing to be divided, at odds, generally contentious, and at each other’s throats. They were experiencing the spiritual version of an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks itself or at the least a spiritual version of Raynaud’s disease where enough blood isn’t pumping to the extremities, and they no longer function properly.

Hence, the paramount importance of the head of a body being Christ, not some man or denomination. If Christ is the head of the body, then the body will function optimally, doing what it has been commanded to do by the head. If, however, Christ is just a foil, someone to name once in a great while when you’re trying to get people to focus on the next round of funds needed for the new building, His commands will never be obeyed, and His direction will never be followed.

Those who saw the shift happening in real-time tried to warn of the consequences, but we were shushed, silenced, and waved off by those eager to have the best of both worlds. Righteousness was too constricting. Holiness was an antiquated term. We needed something fresh, something new, something with a zest that would allow men to slip on their party shoes six days per week, sit in a pew for forty-five minutes or less that other day, and be guaranteed a seat on the next heaven-bound bus.

It drew the crowds. Boy, did it ever. It was like going to a 90% off sale for stuff you really wanted but couldn’t bring yourself to pay up for. That was the initial lie that birthed all the others: if you wait long enough, salvation and eternity will be heavily discounted at some point.

All it took was for the first guy to put the blood of Jesus on sale, to discount it while discounting the Scriptures, and all the others had to fall in line and follow suit. They had employees to pay and sanctuaries to expand, too.

That’s the problem with myopia; no one ever thinks it through, and no one considers what the ramifications of their current actions will be five, ten, or twenty years down the road, as long as they get theirs today.

Once you start down the road of diluting the Word, once you begin to make compromises, be sure that someone somewhere will be willing to go further than you, compromise more than you, then the ball will once more be in your court, and you will have to do likewise to stay relevant.

It’s a race to the bottom, and each new allowance, each new compromise, each new betrayal of the truth only serves to harm the body, leech its power, and draw it further away from the truth and the light.

This is why the Bible never offers the option for retreat. You stand, having done all to stand, but you do not compromise the truth for the sake of temporary relief. One compromise will lead to another. It’s as inevitable as night following day. It’s also something we’ve seen too much of in the modern-day church, and the results of this speak for themselves.  

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024


As any newlywed couple is wont to do, the first few months of our marriage, my wife and I got to know each other’s pet peeves, quirks, and idiosyncrasies, some not worth mentioning, others needing to get hammered out before they became an issue. There is an adjustment period for two becoming one, and to avoid bitterness, resentment, or acrimony later down the line, a husband and wife must communicate openly with each other.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone is not clear on what they want, expect, or desire of me, whether it’s taking out the trash, making breakfast, or picking up groceries. Communication is vital to a successful marriage, and that was one of the first things we learned to do almost a quarter of a century ago, and it has paid dividends ever since. Be clear, concise, and direct about what you want. It makes everything else going forward much easier.

If I go to a restaurant and order a meal and don’t specify that I don’t want grilled onions on my steak or that I think blue cheese is too pungent and it ruins a fine piece of beef, if it gets delivered with the onions and the blue cheese, I have no one to blame but myself. Some people will send it back and say they didn’t want onions or cheese on their steak, but my wife worked in the food service industry when we first moved to America, and I’m not even going to tell you what they do to food that gets sent back to the kitchen for a fabricated reason. On second thought, nothing happens. Keep sending the food back because the mashed potatoes had too much butter. I’m not about to give away trade secrets, but if the mistake was yours, or there’s nothing wrong with what you ordered except esthetics, it’s just one meal out of a lifetime’s worth of meals. You’ll be fine if you eat it, I promise.

In order to ask for what you want, you must know what you want, and in order to receive what you want, you must specify, and explicitly so, down to the minutest of details if need be. Also, once you know what you want, it cannot be incongruent with your environment. You don’t walk into an Indian restaurant and demand a steak or a vegan restaurant and demand a cheeseburger. By the by, it’s not as though it’s not goofy enough on its face to venerate any sort of animal, but of all the animals one can choose to venerate they pick the cow? Really? The cow?

Back in the day, there used to be an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet near the ministry office. Whenever my dad would visit, and I’d ask where he wanted to eat, he’d always say the buffet, but every time, he ended up getting spaghetti and nothing else. No, I don’t mean the chow mein or the lo mein; I mean literal spaghetti from the kids' section, and he’d sprinkle some tomato sauce on it.

On more than one occasion, I offered to take him somewhere else. Perhaps the fine Italian cuisine the Olive Garden had to offer would be better suited for what he was hungry for, but each time, he’d choose the Chinese buffet and each time, it was the spaghetti. To this day, I don’t understand it, but he’s my dad, and I love him, so I obliged.

As we continue our journey through James, he is intent on making sure people understand that in order to receive from God, you must be clear on what you want and in the right place to receive it.

James 4:1-3, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Before we get into the text itself, I would like to dispel a myth that could be dangerous to the spiritual well-being of believers in general: the notion that shepherds must always treat the sheep with kid gloves.

I’ve been told I can’t be a preacher because I’m not nice enough, and that was just from reading a Bible passage verbatim. I’m not saying anyone should go out of their way to be caustic or mean-spirited, but sometimes the truth must be told without considering feelings. Sometimes, the truth must be spoken, and it will likely land like a hammer blow than the tickle of a feather.

I don’t know how many people James had to counsel before he wrote this portion of his Epistle, but if you think he’s being mean or unkind now, wait until the following few verses.

Most people today live with the expectation of being coddled, even though we’ve seen in real-time how dangerous coddling people who should be confronted can be. Those who demand to be coddled, accepted, and validated in whatever condition they find themselves in never self-correct because the environment they’ve created for themselves never calls them to repentance.

Somewhere deep down, they know they are in sin, but they’ve found for themselves teachers would not point out the fallacy of the argument that you can live like hell all the days of your life and still be welcomed into heaven for no other reason than because you say it’s not a sin. The Bible does, and it’s the Bible you will have to contend with on that day.

James isn’t talking out of the side of his mouth; he’s not shooting in the dark hoping to hit; he’s coming with receipts and laying out not only what was happening among the Jews of his day but also the source of where all the contention, strife, and animus was coming from.

This chapter begins where James left off previously, discussing that a bad tree cannot produce good fruit, and a good tree cannot produce bad fruit. He defined what godly wisdom and earthly wisdom were and insisted that godly wisdom is to be preferred over worldly wisdom, for while earthly wisdom is fleeting, godly wisdom is ever true. Having done that, he is beginning to dig deeper to the root of the problem, exposing the things everyone’s pretending aren’t there because if they were to acknowledge their true spiritual condition, they would either have to recognize that they are far from God and need to return to Him or admit that they love their sin more than they love God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Plans of Man

 Any plans we make are fluid. They can change on a dime, get turned on their head, and be dead on arrival, but that’s part of life, and we take it as it comes. I envy people whose plans extend only so far as seeing another sunrise, but I’ve got meal prep to think about, who’s going to drop the girls off at school, who’s taking them to cello practice, violin practice, Bible study, swim class, and a dozen other things that need to be figured out every week so that everything functions smoothly.

It’s not that I like being a planner; it’s that I have to be one. Life is a bunch of moving pieces, and if you don’t plan to some extent, you’ll just get caught up in the gears and sit there staring at your phone, wondering how you missed your daughter’s dentist appointment even though the wife reminded you a half dozen times.  

Since we’ve just wrapped up the study on fasting, I thought it prudent to share my plans for the foreseeable future so there’s no confusion. If the plans must change, they will, but if the Lord tarries and I’m still here, this is where I see us going.

First, we will finish up the study on the Epistle of James. We halted halfway through to do the study on fasting, which turned out to be a bit longer than I thought it would, but now that it’s concluded, we will finish our journey through James.

Job is still on the list, but given everything that’s going on in the world and the lack of any meaningful study on the topic, once we conclude with James and before beginning our study of Job, we will have another topical study, this time on the subject of persecution. The preliminary title is Preparing for Persecution, but it’s not settled yet. I just know we’ll be doing a study on persecution in general, what the Bible says about it, what Jesus said about it, and if it’s anything we have to concern ourselves with in our day and age. Spoiler alert: yes, it is something we must concern ourselves with.

Depending on how long Job takes, we may also break somewhere in the middle of that study and do another topical study, whether on the elements of endurance, the sanctified believer, or the principles of prayer; I’ve not yet decided, but when the time comes, the decision will be made clear one way or another.

Time is short, and we must be ready for what the Bible warns is coming upon the world. Pie-in-the-sky fantasies and cotton candy dreams won’t cut it. At this point, what’s being peddled as the Word of God isn’t even milk because milk still has some nutritional value. It’s something synthetic, man-made, only fashioned to look like the real thing, but the taste, texture, and substance are all off, like eating a tofu burger and trying to pretend it’s an all-beef patty. I know, other than its gelatinous texture, tofurkey tastes so much like the real thing you’re planning on swapping it out over Thanksgiving, and I just bet no one will notice. It doesn’t, and they will. They won’t even have to taste it; they’ll just look at it and know because turkey doesn’t jiggle. Anyone who says I can’t believe it’s not Scripture has never had the real thing and does not know its nutritional properties for their spiritual man.

That’s the troubling thing to me. That men who’ve claimed to be believers for years have never been introduced to the Word of God but took other men’s word for what it said. Even when they bothered to read it once in a great while, they went to men to tell them what it meant because what it insinuated was too much for them to bear.

I’ve come to conclude that everything flows from doctrine. If the doctrine is wonky, then so is the foundation, so is the belief structure, and everything else that being a child of God entails. When Paul writes to Timothy, the first thing he highlights Scripture being good for is doctrine, followed by reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. The purpose is that the man of God may be perfect and thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Another way of saying it is that the man of God is equipped for battle and ready to take on the darkness.

The truth of it is that battle is coming whether you as an individual are ready for it or not. It won’t wait on anyone for anything, and it will be too late to do anything about it when it commences. Whether or not you are ready is important because it will be the difference between whether you stand or fall on that day. It’s not something we get to when we get to, but something we must prioritize and focus on commensurate with its importance.

By the time some realize what they’ve been consuming has done nothing to grow them, strengthen them, or equip them, it will be too late, as they feel no strength, endurance, or longevity in their race. By the time they realize the leering faces encouraging them to slothfulness and lawlessness feeding them the equivalent of whoopee pies and moon cakes were not their friends, mentors, elders, or spiritual fathers, the tale will have been told, and the body-positive lady will have sung. In order for the spiritual man to stand, and having done all to stand, it must be adequately fed, full of the Word, the Holy Spirit, and power, so that it might do what God has called it to do, which is resist the enemy and all his schemes.

Anyway, that’s the plan. See you shortly.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.