Sunday, March 31, 2024

Restored III

 As children of God, the last thing we should be is disingenuous when attempting to defend a given position or something we believe that the Bible is clear on. We must allow the Gospel to have the final say even when it compels us to admit we may have been wrong about a particular thing rather than try to explain it away using such roundabout, twisted, and illogical explanations as to cause flashbacks to the infomercials of yesteryear that promised acne free skin, the perfect beach body, and whitened teeth all with one pill and at the low price of a few bucks a day.

If, perchance, someone complained that it didn’t work or that they did not receive the promised results, they would retort that you just didn’t follow the directions. You didn’t do it right. What exactly didn’t I do right? Take one pill every morning upon waking with a glass of water. It wasn’t rocket science. I wasn’t supposed to take it while balancing on one foot or while suspended upside down by my legs. One pill, one glass of water, every day, and the results would beggar belief.

James is explicit in the way he phrases the exhortation: Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back. There are only so many ways you can read this honestly, and one of those ways isn’t that the individual was never in the truth or that they never knew the truth.

Here we are, at a crossroads of sorts. Either we believe the word of God or the words of men, and if we choose to believe the words of men, then trying to explain away this passage will become a cumbersome exercise where we try to convince ourselves that James was wrong because someone once said you couldn’t wander from the truth once you’re in it, and so they must have never been in it in the first place; otherwise, the person would have been wrong. We can’t allow for that particular possibility, now can we, because the person wrote books and was on television, and others came along and taught the same thing, and now there’s an entire movement of people who insist that salvation is likened to a gilded cage you can never leave. You’re locked in, and that’s that, and no matter what you do when you’re in it, you’re still in it, even if it’s against your will.

It doesn’t matter how many people echo this sentiment; we still have to contend with James and the undeniable fact that he said that if anyone wanders from the truth, those who are still in truth must do their utmost to turn them back.

This isn’t splitting hairs. It’s a matter of life and death, as serious as anything we will have to contend with. If someone doesn’t allow for the possibility that they can wander from the truth and so keep vigilant, awake, on guard, and ever aware of the foundation they are standing upon, then no matter how far they stray, they will still convince themselves that they haven’t because they can’t.

James makes it clear that within a given congregation, you are likely to find those who are in the truth and those who have wandered from it, and it is the duty of those who are in it to turn those who have wandered back to the truth.

It’s not an issue of anecdotal evidence, of which there is plenty, but of what the Bible says. Men wander from the truth. For whatever reason, their love for God no longer burns bright, being in His presence no longer satisfies them, and they wander. No, they’re not being snatched out of God’s hand; they remove themselves from under His covering and seek things other than God's will and way to give them purpose.

Jesus Himself said that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, we will ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us. For such a small word, ‘IF’ has significant implications, and it’s one of those words we choose to ignore due to its aforementioned implications.

John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

Herein lies the wondrous interconnectedness of abiding in Him, His words abiding in us, and asking what we desire. For if we are in Him, we will desire nothing of this world but more of Him, and He will gladly reveal more of Himself to those who ask because it is His joy to make Himself known to those who are His.

Another word for abiding is to remain or stay in perpetuity. Take what Jesus said, insisting that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, and couple that with what James said regarding someone wandering from the truth, and the picture that begins to come into focus isn’t one of sloppy grace, and an automatic cementing in the truth no matter what the individual does, what he pursues, or how far he wanders from it.

Abide in Christ, remain in Him, and you will not wander from the truth. Chase after fads and spiritual fantasies, spend more time getting sun blindness looking for aliens to come and perform a cavity check than you do in the Word, and yes, you run the risk of wandering from the truth. If that occurs, those who remain in truth have a duty before God to warn you, and whether you respond positively to their warning and return to the truth, or label them unloving for daring to say that messing with astrology, messages in the stars, and soul casting isn’t profitable for your spiritual man is on you. You never know who will receive the truth until you speak the truth to them. Some who will receive it will surprise you, and some who will reject it will likewise come as a shock.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Restored II

 It’s easy to get lost when you don’t have a map. Or if you happen to be hiking, which I hear is a thing people do if the trail is not properly marked, with arrows pointing the way for the intrepid and surefooted, it’s easy to wander and get turned around, especially if you’ve never been there before. I like taking walks as much as anybody, but I tend to get a bit leery when I see people strapping on fifty-pound backpacks and talking about eight hours each way. There are mosquitos and bugs in the woods, and eight hours of trekking through the underbrush, hoping you don’t get lost, and checking to see if you have cell service every few minutes in case you do just isn’t my cup of tea. Neither is tea, for that matter. I’ll take coffee any day, even gas station coffee. Now I’ve offended the English. Some days, you just can’t win.

Not everyone enjoys the same thing. We must allow for each other’s differences in these matters, but just because you went for a hike doesn’t make you Meriwether Lewis or William Clark. The route was already mapped out for you, the markers were freshly painted, and other than poison ivy, you didn’t discover much anyway. This isn’t me being testy; I’m just fresh off a conversation I had with a hiking enthusiast whose story was so self-congratulatory and grandiose one would have thought they climbed Everest blindfolded. Relax, Chucky, it was the kid’s nature walk in a middling national park. I think the backpack and water gourds were a bit of an overkill.

The only way to get lost on a clearly marked path is to wander off, whether because you think you know better than those who blazed the trail or because you saw something shiny off in the distance that you couldn’t help but go and investigate. No one made you wander off the path; you did it willingly, voluntarily, and of your own volition. If you were traveling in a group, perhaps there were even others who warned against going off into the thicket, insisting that it was smarter just to stick to the path itself, but you rolled your eyes, called them a prude, asked them where their sense of adventure was, and went off into the wild.

The way is the way; it has been since Jesus walked the earth, and it has not changed. Although people have attempted to find easier paths, ones that did not require a climb or any exertion on their part, the destination was always different than that of the old path because it’s the only path that leads to that particular destination. It’s not whether a trail is easy that matters; it’s whether it will lead you to where you want to go.

Whenever I’ve flown over the last couple of years, the announcement has added a new wrinkle that at first I thought was for the benefit of levity, but given the common sense deficit we’ve seen of late, I get the impression they’re as serious as a live round on a movie set.

The new addition informs you of that particular plane’s destination, then the announcer says, if this is not your destination, please let a flight attendant know so we can get you off this plane. There was one instance where a lady wearing pajamas and a ten-gallon hat got frantic and said she was supposed to be going to Chattanooga while the flight she was on was going to Dallas, but thankfully, that was the only one.

Are you headed in the right direction? Is your destination firmly affixed in your mind, and is the destination the thing that drives you ever onward?

If we notice someone wandering from the truth, our attitude should not be one of indifference. Once again, James highlights the importance of brotherly love and seeing the household of faith as a body that must take steps to restore a weak, sick, or lethargic member.

To notice that someone has wandered from the truth, you, yourself must know it and walk in it. Someone already in error will not be bothered by another who likewise walks in error. Someone walking in truth, possessing the love of Christ, will always show concern when another wanders from it.

Your duty isn’t to let them wander off further and further into the dark but to try to turn them back. Yes, you may be deemed unloving, intolerant, bigoted, a zealot, and a legalist when you approach someone and lovingly warn them of their error, but that can’t be helped.

I can’t control another’s actions, but I can control my own. I can’t control how someone will react to being warned of the error of their ways or that they are wandering from the path of righteousness, but I can do what the Word instructs and risk being mischaracterized, maligned, and hated. The wages are too high for you to keep silent because it’s a matter of a soul being saved from death.

James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”

It’s not self-righteous to warn another that they have wandered from the truth. It’s not holier than thou or sanctimonious; it’s biblical. Anyone who accuses you of being smug, haughty, or supercilious for pointing to the Word and warning that they are wandering from it simply does not want to acknowledge their error and is lashing out with personal attacks.

Tell me where I’m wrong Biblically, not that you didn’t like my tone or that I could have been gentler in my delivery. If I care more about your soul than you do, then there’s a problem, and it’s not the manner in which a warning was delivered.

We should care more about our souls than a scratch on our new car or a stain on a new shirt. We should, but there are many things we should be doing that we aren’t, and that’s to our shame.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, March 29, 2024


 It’s easy to broad-brush uncomfortable topics and call them differences of opinion, but some require a deeper investigation and a more rigorous study so that we might be in harmony and aligned with the Word of God rather than the teachings of men.

We tend to ignore the Bible passages that don’t buoy our own ideas. If some within Christendom were to take a black marker to every verse, chapter, and book of the Bible that did not fit their predetermined box, it would look like a redacted top-secret document the government releases once in a while, where out of three hundred pages, only a handful of words are legible. Even those words reveal nothing of what the document was about.

If all scripture is God-breathed and profitable, then ignoring large swaths of it because we don’t like what it says is counterproductive, especially if our goal is to grow in God and know Him fully. We want to have victorious lives, possess optimal spiritual strength, and grow in faith, understanding, knowledge, and wisdom, yet we ignore the instruction manual for doing so. The only way you can expect all your machinations to end in a bunt cake is if you follow the recipe and instructions for baking a bunt cake. If you ended up with tuna casserole instead, it’s because you didn’t pay attention to the ingredients you needed and went about it your own way.

I’ve put together my fair share of Ikea furniture. Some of the projects were small enough, like a nightstand or a cupboard, and others tediously complicated, like my daughter’s bed, which tested my patience to no end because I started assembling it without carefully perusing the instructions and following the steps outlined therein. After three or so hours of trying to do it on my own and coming up with a triangle that looked like an upright Christmas tree rather than a bed, I had to humble myself, take it all apart, start from scratch, and follow the instructions.

If we’re not where we want to be in God or experiencing the depth of presence and intimacy we were expecting, it’s not God’s fault; it’s ours. We become set in our ways, cement our opinions, and assign greater value to them than the Word. Then, we wonder why we’re spinning our wheels and feel as though we’re stuck.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, whenever man’s opinion conflicts with what the Bible says, it’s always the man that’s in the wrong. It doesn’t matter how well respected, even revered, that man might be if his stance is contrary to Scripture; he is wrong!

James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”

English is my second language. I learned the basics of it from the Mexican kids in the neighborhood we were taken to in California when we first arrived here. I also picked up quite a bit of Spanish during my time learning English, so I can’t claim to have the best grasp on the language, yet James doesn’t use big words to get a big idea across. It’s simple enough that even I can understand its meaning if I read the text without the assistance of denominational spectacles or any particular bias.

Remember those insurance commercials where the tagline was it’s so easy even a caveman can do it? These two verses are self-explanatory. They’re so easy to understand that even an immigrant of average intelligence, such as myself, can grasp their meaning, yet we reject their implications because of what men have told us.

Perhaps we choose myopia because it’s easier than facing the truth. Perhaps we pretend as though we don’t understand because if, perchance, understanding was admitted to, then we’d be responsible for that which we’ve understood.

We’ve abandoned the art of nuance and feel the need to broad-brush everything because it causes no discomfort. We’ll use the sledgehammer even when the situation calls for a scalpel. The easiest way to deceive someone is to have them fully convinced that they can’t be deceived. Once you set the stage and have that thought firmly planted in their minds, then going forward, whatever you say couldn’t possibly be deception because when they start getting suspicious, you revert back to step one, insisting that they can’t be deceived.

It’s like saying that a certain race can’t be racist, then when they start being virulently racist, they insist they’re not because they’ve convinced themselves they can’t be racist. If Christians were above being deceived, then Jesus wouldn’t have had to say, “Take heed that no one deceives you.”

Both “no one can pluck you out of My hand” and “if anyone among you wanders from the truth” can be true simultaneously. One does not invalidate the other or nullify it. If you remain in Jesus, no one can pluck you out of His hand. No one can forcibly remove you from His embrace, but as for wandering from the truth, we’ve seen it happen once too often and with people we thought were above such things.

Yes, I know the argument that if someone wanders from the truth, they were never in the truth to begin with, but that’s not what James is saying. That’s not what Jesus is saying either, because to take heed is to actively be on guard, weary, and ever vigilant against the prospect of someone sowing deception into your life.

Many people who claim to have gotten saved didn’t stay saved, not because Jesus rejected them or because someone snuck up on Him and snatched them out of His hand, but because they wandered from the truth. Incrementally, ever so slowly, they got distracted, enchanted, mesmerized, and led away, all the while thinking themselves faithful to the call and purpose of Christ because they were told that once they were in, Jesus barred the door and stood guard to keep anyone from exiting.

Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024


 We tend to see our heroes through rose-tinted glasses. The same goes for the heroes of the faith. Whether it’s someone in the Old Testament, someone in the New Testament, or an individual of our modern era who possessed the uncompromising faithfulness to endure persecution and even martyrdom for the sake of Christ, we view them as being superhuman, somehow superior in their nature, and able to accomplish what we dare not dream.

Other than the Christ, who is the exception to the rule, all who came before us were fully human, flesh and bone, with a nature like ours. They were not born with any superior aptitude or ability but simply willing to press in and forfeit their all for the great high calling to which they were called. There are no supermen. There isn’t anyone, nor has there ever been anyone within the household of faith, that walks about as a mild-mannered elder only to run into a phone booth and come out in a super Christian costume a moment later. To the last, they were men, are men, and will be men, but some of them stand out because obedience and steadfastness are never ignored, and God gives grace to the humble, whatever circumstance they may find themselves in.

James 5:17-18, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”

The same man who prayed, and it did not rain for three years and six months, was so despondent that he prayed that he might die. There’s a lot to unpack in Elijah's life, but for the sake of brevity, I want to focus on only two points.

First, God answered the one prayer but not the other. The same man who prayed for the rain to cease and for the rain to commence and received an answer to his prayers prayed that he might die, yet God did not answer that particular prayer.

One prayer was according to God’s will; the other was not. This is a lesson the modern-day church is learning ever so grudgingly that if we pray for something not within the scope of God’s will, He is not obliged to answer the prayer. Even if we demand it and threaten to hold our breath until He does as we will, God will not do something on our behalf that is contrary to His nature. Can we entreat God? Can we petition Him? Can we stir Him to compassion? Most assuredly, but it’s one thing to beg for mercy and get it, another to ask for something contrary to God’s nature and expect to receive it.

It was not yet Elijah’s time, and though he might have prayed a hundred prayers for his life to cease, God would not have honored them because they were not according to His will and purpose. Elijah still had work to do, even if he felt tired, run-down, alone, and on the run. Instead of taking his life, God sent an angel to encourage him, bring him some food, and reveal to him that he was not alone but that there were others who remained as obedient and faithful as he. Not just a handful or a baker’s dozen, but seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

The second takeaway we must consider, and I would be remiss if I didn’t point it out, is that James points back to the God of Elijah and insists He is the same God. He is the same God who hears His servants, with the same power and ability to do the seemingly impossible. Unchanging means unchanging. What God could do four thousand years ago and two thousand years ago, He can do today, just as readily, just as effortlessly, just as powerfully.

God doesn’t age like men do. He is eternal and everlasting. His power is not diminished with the passing of time, nor is His willingness to show His power and might to those who believe and walk in righteousness. God didn’t just get bored with His creation one day and put it on autopilot. He didn’t find something else to do, and so decided to leave humanity on the back burner.

The saddest thing the church has been duped into believing today is that they serve a distant, disinterested, and impotent God. As to who duped the church, it was a mutually agreed-upon deception between the faux-shepherds who had no desire to live the righteousness required of them and the sheep who agreed to finance their lifestyles as long as no attention was brought to bear on their duplicity and worldly pursuits.

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

Whenever someone insists that God can’t do such and such a thing anymore, my one question is, why? On who’s say so, and by who’s authority? If God changes, not if His power does not diminish from age to age, why can’t God do what He did in the past? Why can’t His power be made manifest today as it was yesterday? Why can’t His servants walk in the authority rightly theirs as they did before? Who are you, oh wicked man, to place limitations on a limitless God?

If ever you allow doubt to worm its way into your heart, if ever you look at a situation and believe it to be insurmountable, remember what God has done and that He remains the same. There is nothing our God cannot do. There is no situation that God will look upon and deem impossible. He is God. He is good, and He is able.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2024


I got my first physical well into my forties. It wasn’t so much because I thought it was time or because I really wanted to, but because I needed the nagging to stop. Between my wife and my little brother, I was being nagged in stereo about how I needed to go and do it because you never know what may be lurking. I know how much effort I put into my physical health, so as far as I’m concerned, every day is a gift. I’m a realist about everything in life, so blowing out a hundred-year candle isn’t a likely scenario. Then again, God’s sense of humor may just allow me to outlive the guy in the bicycle shorts trying to jog in a foot of snow.

Even those staunchly opposed to going to the doctor will eventually relent if the pain gets bad enough. After they get tired of guessing whether it’s a mole or a tumor, after the home remedies have been exhausted and WebMD has not found the cure for what ails them, they’ll reluctantly pick up the phone and try to schedule an appointment only to be told that the doctor can see them in three months.

The same goes for those who are aware of some sort of spiritual malady in their lives that they think they can manage on their own or are too ashamed or embarrassed to confess to another. Eventually, if their conscience isn’t seared, and if they’ve not been handed over, their need to be rid of the joy killer in their lives, their need to be rid of the sin succubus that is robbing them of their peace and fellowship with God will outweigh the discomfort of opening up to a brother or a sister and confessing their trespass. There’s no managing an invasive species set on your destruction. People have tried, they still do, but the outcome is always the same. Sin can’t be managed; it must be excised. It must be confessed, repented of, nevermore to be revisited.

This is not a matter of opinion; it’s what the Bible prescribes. There are no home remedies for sin. You can’t brew a special kind of tea or eat your weight in cayenne pepper to be rid of it. Drinking a thimble full of apple cider vinegar, even the kind with mother will not expunge the stain; only the blood of Jesus will. When a trespass is confessed and repented of, the hold is broken, the cell is opened, and the individual can walk into the light of freedom.

James goes on to tell us that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. By an effective prayer, he means one that can produce a result or one that will have an effect. The caveat is that for the prayer to be effective, it must be prayed by a righteous man. Once more we see the operative word being righteous, not popular, or well-rehearsed. A righteous man, praying a fervent prayer, will have an effect because the prayers of such individuals avail much.

God doesn’t check pedigree when a prayer is prayed. He doesn’t check whether someone is wearing the latest designer suit or has a diamond-encrusted watch on their wrist. God’s only metric is righteousness, and the fervent prayer of a righteous man has an impact. It garners results. Knowing this, ought we not first and foremost pursue righteousness rather than all the other things with which we are constantly distracted? Ought we not be seeking to draw near to God rather than to increase our online presence or influence?

What works for the world doesn’t work for the church. The means and mechanisms the world uses to grow a brand, increase market share, or become a mainstay cannot be applied to the household of faith with the intent of garnering the same result. It may work for a time, it may grow a church for a season, but it’s artificial, and those who flock to things like the seeker-friendly model will fall away just as readily because their spiritual man is not being fed or matured.

If we cut off an appendage every time it hurt rather than try to restore it and bring it back to health, everyone would be hobbling around with multiple amputations, wondering what member was next on the chopping block. We must discern the difference between leprosy and muscle strain and treat them accordingly. If someone comes to confess a trespass, asks for prayer, and is repentant, we do not cut them off but seek to restore them to the body. If, however, they are unrepentant, revel in their sin, and become defined by it, unwilling to humble themselves or seek to be restored, then for the sake of the rest of the body, they must be removed.

We’ve all encountered those who have fallen into sin and chose to wallow in it, finding justifications and excuses to continue down the path of destruction. Until and unless they realize they need healing, until and unless they call for the elders of the church to come and pray over them, having confessed their trespasses, they will continue to shun the light and embrace the darkness with greater fervor.

You may love someone, see the destructive pattern they’ve adopted, warn them about it, and counsel them to turn away from it, but you can’t force repentance on anyone. That must be a choice they make, an avenue they pursue, and a decision they come to.

We can point the way to Jesus, we can point the way to the light, and we can speak the truth in love to those in bondage, but they must desire to be free, unburden themselves, and shake off the shackles of sin.

The spiritual health of a church body takes precedence over all else. To maintain spiritual health, we must first examine ourselves regularly and, if anything is amiss, have the humility necessary to reach out for help.

When we fail to examine ourselves, when we fail to be open and confess our trespasses, the molehill becomes a mountain, and eventually, like clockwork, the sin finds the individual out, and shame is brought to the household of faith. This is a proven fact, not some hypothesis, and the examples are too many to number, with new blots and blemishes being exposed on what seems like a daily basis.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, March 25, 2024


Whenever one goes to the doctor complaining of something or another, the doctor asks them to outline their symptoms. They ask what hurts, where it hurts, how bad it hurts if they’ve changed their diet or exercise routine, or if something happened in their life, whether a slip on an icy patch of sidewalk or a planter falling on their head to have caused the discomfort they are experiencing. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and if you trace it back, you will always discover the reason for that twinge in your back or the wobbly knee you woke up with.

I know at the time it was a good idea to help your neighbor pack the contents of his house into a U-Haul for the low, low price of a pineapple pizza, but you’re not twenty anymore, and you shouldn’t be trying to crab walk down a driveway with a refrigerator on your back anyhow.

You must be honest with your doctor to be diagnosed properly. If you fail to mention specific symptoms or withhold pertinent details, you risk being misdiagnosed and given a remedy that might work for others but will do nothing to ameliorate your condition.

It may be embarrassing or something you don’t want to discuss with another human being, but if you want to get better, you have to suck it up and be honest. The same applies when it comes to the spiritual man, and James makes this crystal clear.

James 5:16, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

An unconfessed sin will always hold sway over someone. It’s like the sword of Damocles, always there, hanging over your head, and you never know when it’s going to swing. It’s one of the reasons why so many today are spiritually stunted and unable to progress in their growth. They can’t bring themselves to confess their trespasses, and so their trespasses remain as a weight on their shoulders, keeping them sluggish and weary, exhausting their energy and draining both joy and peace from their lives.

It’s hard being vulnerable. It’s hard opening up and confessing one’s trespasses to another human being because you don’t know what they’ll do with the information, how they’ll react, whether or not they’ll judge you, or use it as a means of asserting influence over you. What James prescribes is different than what the Catholics do, wherein one figure receives confession, and everyone goes to them. James tells us to confess our trespasses to one another, inferring that we all have areas in our lives that we need to be watchful of; we all have shortcomings and failures we must unburden ourselves of that we might be made whole.

Fellowship, brotherhood, unity, and coming together as one body are vital to building up the trust necessary to open up to another and tell them of your struggles. You’ll likely find that they, too, get angry at seeing someone driving with their knees while on the phone and doing their nails and somehow managing to make you feel like the villain for having to swerve out of the way. I’m aware that there are darker things some are dealing with, but there is no freedom from the bondage without confession of the trespass and calling upon others to pray with you, for you, intercede on your behalf, and do unto you as they would have another do unto them in that situation. 

That we can’t be open and forthright with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is sad and troubling because it’s the only way the burden can be lifted, the chain can be broken, and healing can be had. We are one body, expected to hold each other accountable to God, lift each other up when one stumbles, and pray for each other when needed.

If you break your finger, you treat it. You have it set, you put a splint on it, and you take care not to injure it again so that it might heal properly. You don’t go poking at it, twisting it here and there, seeing if you can do more damage; you are gentle and soothing, doing your utmost to make it better. When someone comes to you and confesses a trespass, seeking repentance, your duty is to likewise do all you can to promote healing. They are acknowledging their failure, and seeking to be free of whatever has beset them.

When we began tweaking the job qualifications for elders, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to fit the world’s mold rather than God’s ideal is when the foundations began to crack and crumble. The concern wasn’t whether they were men called of God, righteous, and of good reputation; the concern wasn’t whether they met the criteria the Bible sets forth but rather if they had presence and gravitas, if they were easy on the eyes and had a full head of hair. The substance of the man took second place to the form of the man, and their reason for being in ministry was other than the equipping of the saints or the edifying of the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-16, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the status of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Order II

 Even those who believe that calling the church elders, having them pray, and anointing them with oil will bring about healing reserve it for when they are physically sick. As mentioned, we’ve gotten it into our heads that we can tell God what He can and cannot do, that we can somehow dictate terms and determine the measure of God’s ability. We pick and choose the extent of God’s power, even though He declares Himself to be all-powerful, and for some reason I have yet to ferret out, we try to convince others that God is impotent, too.

When you tell certain people you’re praying for healing or something specific, you can see them trying to keep from rolling their eyes, and as though speaking to a retired boxer who’s taken one too many hits to the head, they slowly tell you God doesn’t do that anymore, enunciating their words as though that will get the point across better.

Sorry, Bubba, God’s retired; He doesn’t do that anymore. Well, yeah, He did do all of those things, but you know, only at the start, just to build a brand or something, but once it got off the ground, He just stopped. I understand how someone would conclude that He still does those things, given that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be with us and in us until the end of time, but that’s just because you didn’t go to seminary. They can explain it better. It has something to do with cessation or something, but yeah, no, God doesn’t do that anymore.

God can do today what He did yesterday and tomorrow what He did today. When Joshua asked God to stop the sun, God didn’t arch His eyebrows and tongue-lash him for being so ostentatious in his request. God didn’t tell Joshua he asked for too much or that his request was beyond His ability to fulfill. It honors God when we ask for things outside man’s ability. It shows Him what we think of Him and how we perceive Him. A big God can do big things; a small God does small things. It depends on how you see Him and the level of faith you possess in His ability to do all things.

He spoke the universe into being, created all that you see, made man from the dust of the earth, and remains unchanging from age to age. That’s the God we serve. That is the God who is worthy of honor, worship, and praise.

Man’s unwillingness to increase his faith has forced him to attempt to decrease and shrink the tremendous power of the God he purports to serve. We had to justify it somehow. We couldn’t acknowledge our own shortcomings, we couldn’t acknowledge our own duplicity, we couldn’t acknowledge our halfhearted commitment, and our lack of hunger for more of Him, so we laid the blame at His feet. God’s not doing it anymore because He can’t, and that’s that. I mean, if He could, wouldn’t He do it through us? We are, after all, tech-savvy and upwardly mobile. We know how to employ diplomacy to avoid confrontation with the darkness; we are progressive and inclusive, and all the things the world tells us we need to be to draw people to the house of God.

And that’s the rub of it. When the wolf tells the sheep how it should act in order to make itself more attractive to the wolf, you know that whatever advice the wolf gives is not in the sheep’s best interest. Somehow, we find it perfectly acceptable for those of the world to tell those of the church what they should believe, accept, validate, and embrace, and every one of those things is contrary to the Word of God. How’s that going to play out, I wonder?

We’re trying our hardest to do all the things the world insists we should be doing and none of the things God says we must be doing. For God to move, for His power and presence to be a constant in our lives, He doesn’t tell us we need to have Hillsong on replay throughout the day, make allowances for evil, coddle sin, or justify lukewarmness. God tells us we must have faith—true, abiding, active faith.

Throughout the Word, we are told we must build up our most holy faith, stretch it, increase it daily, and see the God we serve as He is, not as men have made Him out to be. We’ve created an image of a lovesick puppy in our minds who will do anything, including turning a blind eye to our duplicity and sin just for the hope of coming to visit once in a great while and scratching him behind the ear, then transposed it upon the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, insisting it is what He has become. We tell ourselves God has changed, even though He declares He is unchanging and that He will make allowances for this generation when He hasn’t for any other.

But we’re special! Everyone, from our grade school teacher to our pastor to the evangelist on television every Sunday, tells us that incessantly. We’ve come to believe the lie that God will make an exception just for us, that we’re a unique case, and that God really needs us on His team, so He’ll overlook the lack of commitment and the absence of holiness.

James tells us that a specific prayer, the prayer of faith, will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. It doesn’t have to be eloquent, verbose, long-winded, or overly dramatic, but it has to be imbued with faith. That’s the key, but we’d rather tell people the key doesn’t exist than encourage them to find it.

Calling for the elders of the church ought not to be reserved only when we suffer in the flesh or are physically sick but also when we are weak in the spirit, whether unable to forgive, full of bitterness we just can’t shake, or experiencing any other issue that would stunt our spiritual growth or be detrimental to our spiritual man.

God prioritizes your spiritual health over your physical health, and His priority should be our priority as well. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. That is the priority, the focus, and the purpose. When we focus on the kingdom, all else will be added to us, for Jesus said it would.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, March 23, 2024


 Ours is not a God of chaos. He is a God of order, so intricate and detailed in His purpose that for you and I to tread upon the earth, breathe air, feel the sun, and smell the freshness after a spring rain, a billion, billion finite details had to come together just right. If the earth’s orbit moved just a bit closer to the sun, we would all be crispy critters. If it moved a bit further, we’d all be icicles.

Objectively speaking, taking everything into account, it takes a lot more faith to be an atheist than to believe in a Creator who lovingly spoke the universe into being, created the earth, and then man as the crowning jewel of His creation.

I’m not talking about the IQ-challenged kids who scream about spaghetti monsters and how anyone who believes in God is a simpleton while they themselves insist that they’re a cat and sit in life-sized litter boxes. I’m talking about rational, logical, analytical people who can look upon the whole of creation and somehow conclude it all came together perfectly by accident.

You see, there was a bang, and then, voila. You don’t say. And just like that, synchronous, perfect, fully fleshed, formed, and functional. That would be akin to taking the parts from ten individual cars, throwing them up in the air, and when they landed, they were complete, perfect, and working.

Something so wondrous that it makes Picasso, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci look like toddlers doodling with finger paints came about purely by accident, with no intelligent design or creative force. Got it. Thanks. And somehow, we’re the intellectually closed-off and stunted ones?

If God is a God of order, and there is order in the universe He created, then there must also be order within the household of faith. The order of the church is well established in the Bible, and although the church today is very different from the church in James’s day, it does not negate or do away with the need for order.

I’ll be the first to call out the failures of the modern-day church. The household of faith was never intended to be a monolith, with branding executives, diversity, equity, and inclusivity representatives, public relations departments, and multi-year growth specialists. The church was never meant to be a business, but in many cases, that’s what it has become.

You have televangelists boasting about how they’re a brand unto themselves and not some country preacher, as though that made them superior to those who labor in the same harvest field. You have church boards making decisions based on what’s more profitable rather than Biblical; you have the message of the Gospel being watered down to the point of ineffectiveness, but through it all, God is still a God of order.

Even those who strongly oppose the corporatizing of the church tend to swing too far the other way, wherein there is no structure or leadership, and everyone does as they will. That is a recipe for disaster, and I’ve seen more fellowships split and split again over not having a shepherd than for any other reason.

James instructs us to call for the elders of the church if any among us is sick. This presupposes that there is a church body and that elders have been appointed to oversee its spiritual well-being. It doesn’t presuppose a church building, a building fund, or a corporatization and charter of a particular denomination, but it does presuppose the spiritual authority of seasoned, mature individuals who walk in the power and authority of God.

We can’t ignore God’s design because finding a church that preaches the truth is difficult and becoming more so daily. There are still those who stand on the truth of the gospel and will not compromise for the sake of popularity, and it’s our duty as individuals to seek them out.

It won’t be the ones who draw the eye or are starved for attention; it won’t be those who prance on stage and make it about themselves, but the ones who point the way to Christ and the cross, those who serve rather than demand to be served, and those who though deemed nothing more than country preachers by the boastful and proud, are men of substance who are fearless in their teaching of the Word. They are still around; you just have to look a bit.

When Elijah thought he alone remained, God had to inform him that seven thousand others remained who had not bowed to Baal and whose mouths had not kissed him. There are moments when you may feel alone or that you’re the only one who still pursues a life of righteousness and holiness unto the Lord, but you are not. God will always have a remnant. God will always have a people, and there will always be those who will not bow the knee to Baal, no matter the cost.

You are not alone. Neither am I. We are the family of God, the body of Christ, and when the day of sifting comes, we will know those who are wheat and those who are chaff. Do not despair. You are not alone. When the day comes, and you see your brothers and sisters standing beside you, unflinching, bold, courageous, steadfast, and determined, you will know that though not all who spoke the name of the Lord served Him, there are those who do.

As an aside, if you go looking for the perfect church with the perfect pastor and the perfect parishioners, you’ll never find it. Demanding perfection of others while we ourselves fall short of the mark is illogical. That said, if you search hard enough, you will find a church body that pursues righteousness and has set its eyes upon Jesus.

The priority isn’t whether or not they have a good worship team or an engaging children’s ministry, whether the pastor can fit into a pair of skinny jeans, or whether the pews are comfortable. The priority is whether the truth of the gospel is preached. That is the standard. Everything else is tertiary.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, March 22, 2024


 Although singing psalms when we are cheerful is self-explanatory, what James counsels us to do when we are sick requires more explanation. James places suffering and sickness in two categories and prescribes separate remedies for each. When we are suffering, we are encouraged to pray. When we are sick, depending on the severity of the sickness, we may find it difficult or even impossible to pray for ourselves, and so we must reach out to the elders of the church.

How long we should pray is another discussion unto itself, but prayer is like clean water or your favorite food; you can never have too much of it. I’ve known men who prayed for three, four, even five hours per day on a regular basis, foregoing sleep for the privilege of spending time in God’s presence, and others who spend an hour with God, but what all of them have in common is the consistency with which they come before God. The length of time may vary, but consistency is the running theme among all of them.

It’s funny how when we find ourselves in the midst of suffering, we somehow find the time to fellowship with God that we couldn’t otherwise pencil in to save our lives. We’re all busy little bees, after all, so finding an hour or two per day to be in the presence of God is a non-starter until the suffering pops out of a birthday cake unbidden. Then we find the time.

I heard a brother say once that the minimum time you should set aside for God on a given day is an hour, divided into three equal parts. Twenty minutes for you to talk to God, twenty minutes for God to speak to you, and twenty minutes for you to talk to others about Him. If nothing else, it’s a good rule of thumb, and chances are if one were to poll the modern-day church and the participants were honest, a significant majority would fall short of that sixty-minute mark. Somehow, though, we’re still the greatest generation of super-spiritual, power-having, rod of iron wielding, binding, and loosing believers ever to walk the earth; at least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

Anyone who’s ever been sick, and I’m assuming all of us have at some stage in life, knows that whatever the sickness is, it’s always accompanied by weakness, lethargy, and the absence of will to do much of anything other than be bedridden.

I was a sickly child. I’ve mentioned this once or twice. You couldn’t tell it by looking at me today, but I was skin and bones with a propensity for going on long, drawn-out illnesses that had me doing not much more than sipping the tea my mom insisted I should drink or tossing and turning in bed. I was frail, weak, and lethargic, and the great mind of the alcoholic doctor who was our resident physician couldn’t make heads nor tails of it.

His answer was always that my mom should feed me more; if I refused the food, she should be forceful in her attempts. She tried to force-feed me once, but I bit her finger, and she stopped trying.

What’s the point? The point is that weakness can be physical as well as spiritual. The lethargy of the spirit is just as real a thing as the lethargy of the flesh, and James insists that calling for the elders of the church, being prayed over and anointed with oil in the name of the Lord, is a remedy for both.

James 5:14-15, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

It’s worth noting that James says the prayer of faith will save the sick rather than heal them, and only afterward would the Lord raise them up. Words matter, especially when it comes to rightly dividing the Word, and because of his usage of save rather than heal, we can conclude that James is referring to physical as well as spiritual issues.

Before the “God Doesn’t Do That Anymore” choir starts their warm-up set, argue with God because I’m not going to take the bait. If the Bible instructs us to call the elders, pray for the sick, and anoint them with oil, insisting that the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise them up, I’m just going to have to believe the Bible over you or anyone else.

If the Lord no longer heals, why would He instruct us to pray for the sick? If the Lord no longer moves among His people, why would we be encouraged to desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

God’s not a bully playing keep-away with your lunch box in the second grade. He won’t make a promise and then go back on His word just so He can watch you squirm. What loving God would promise to equip you only to snatch away all the tools you would need to withstand in the evil day?

Armor? What armor? We’re fresh out! Go grab a colander from the kitchen and find a broomstick somewhere because we’ve got nothing else for you. Maybe sharpen the broomstick on one end. I’m sure it won’t be that bad; the devil wouldn’t pummel a defenseless person, would he? Now, go make war against the darkness.

There is a natural progression to spiritual warfare that will culminate in the last days. Since we are living in the last days, albeit the beginnings thereof, the attacks of the enemy will only grow, intensify, and become more refined as his time draws near. For the stalwarts who don’t believe that God still works among men or that the Holy Spirit is still active within the household of faith, I have one question: why would an omniscient God leave His people defenseless during a time when they need Him most?

Although they will never allow for the possibility, perhaps you have not because you ask not, and if that’s the case, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024


 Suffering is not the exception to the rule in life; it is a constant throughout the world, no matter the continent, ethnicity, or culture one might come from. Suffering is universal, a uniform theme throughout all of mankind, one of a handful that everyone can relate to no matter where they happen to reside. When you tell another person you’re suffering, they understand it for what it is without having to go into detail or explain the definition thereof.

There’s a reason James mentions suffering first, then those who are cheerful second. Chances are, on a given day, there will always be more suffering than cheerfulness, and that’s the sad reality of the world we live in. Even among believers, there is a likelier chance that someone is suffering, but their suffering is not without recourse, purpose, or finality.

The only unknown is the severity or intensity of the suffering one might be called upon to endure, but as far as suffering is concerned, it is a common theme and has been since the beginning of creation. Given that all men suffer, our aim should not be to avoid suffering but rather to suffer well.

Even if we try to avoid it, we can’t. It’s not just unrealistic or improbable; it’s impossible to avoid suffering while you’re on this earth, and even those who thought they could leave the world behind and live out the rest of their days wearing a virtual reality headset pretending to be the emperor of Rome, had to deal with the bedsores they developed.

There’s an adage that says if you know you can’t avoid something, you might as well meet it head-on. Suffering is one of those things we can’t avoid in life. It will come upon us all at one point or another, so knowing this, we must determine how we will react in the face of it.

The counsel James presents is simple and straightforward. There is no course you have to buy, no workshops you have to sit through, and there isn’t a price you have to pay to unlock the secrets of suffering well. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Just because the remedy is simple, it doesn’t mean it’s ineffective.

I have two young daughters who have boundless energy. Sometimes, I forget I’m pushing fifty, and I get ahead of my skis whether we’re doing piggyback rides or jumping over obstacle courses they create in the backyard. Once in a while, I wake up with a swollen knee or a swollen ankle because daddy’s not the most dexterous man in the world, and the most straightforward remedy is always an ice pack. That’s it. It is simple enough but always effective, and nothing works quite like it, even though I’ve tried other things.

Prayer works. When we are suffering, however that suffering might manifest in our lives, the answer and remedy is always prayer. As children of God, we have access to Him, we can approach Him, we can beseech Him, and we can receive comfort from Him. This is a privilege the godless do not possess, yet so few who claim to be His children avail themselves of this gift.

We would rather bemoan our fate, insist that life is unfair, and solicit the prayers of others when we ourselves ought to be praying and spending time in His presence so that He might bind up our wounds and heal our hurts.

There is a difference between the consequences of our actions and the suffering that befalls all men, which they have no hand in, which they have not contributed to, or are responsible for. This is an important distinction because oftentimes, we judge someone’s situation and conclude that sin was the culprit and disobedience was the root of their hardship when this is not the case.

What was Job’s sin that he was brought so low? By God’s own word, Job was a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil. There was none like him on the earth, and yet what he suffered can scarcely be imagined.

Job 1:8, “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

The notion that true servants of God are exempted from suffering is an aberrant teaching that can only be promulgated in the West, for there are countless souls whom God calls His servants throughout the world who are currently suffering for the cause of Christ. The nations are numerous, the suffering is intense, and for anyone to say that they lack faith and this is why they suffer is antithetical to the teaching of the Word.

We either grow and mature in our suffering or despair. We either learn to trust in the providence of God and draw nearer to Him, or we become resentful and despondent. These are choices that we make as individuals.

You can’t say something doesn’t work without trying it. Even though the Bible says to pray if you are suffering, many believers attempt everything else but prayer to try to alleviate their situation, to no avail. If it didn’t work, the Bible wouldn’t recommend it. If the Bible recommends it, it means it works. I can’t state it any simpler than that.

We tend to go down rabbit holes where we insist that someone’s experience is purely anecdotal and that what worked for them might not work for us. However, this isn’t about anecdotal experiences; it’s a proven remedy that the Bible counsels us to pursue. If you prayed once in your suffering and nothing came of it, pray twice, then a third time, and learn to spend time in God’s presence where there is healing and peace.

I have a friend who insisted that coffee does nothing for him. My answer was that he wasn’t drinking enough of it. The same goes for praying in the midst of suffering. If prayer isn’t working, perhaps we’re not doing enough of it.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2024


 I was a sickly child. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me today, but I was rail thin, prone to catch any virus within a city block, and once I caught it, it took me forever to get over it. My mom was constantly fussing, as moms the world over are wont to do, and if bubbles existed in the village I grew up in back in the day, I surely would have spent my adolescence inside one for my own protection. It’s not that I had an embarrassment of friends, but the few I did have weren’t allowed to come by for fear of getting me sick. Yeah, it was that kind of childhood, and although my mom did her best to keep me away from any other living thing save herself, she never entirely succeeded.

In hindsight, keeping me away from things that breathed, whether man or beast, would have been the worst possible thing my mom could have done for me, even though she would have been doing it out of love and with good intentions, because the more it was challenged, the stronger my immune system became. Nowadays, unless someone injects the bubonic plague directly into my veins, I just don’t get sick. I’ve had a runny nose or two when the rest of the family was coughing and wheezing as though we were patients of the tuberculosis wing of a hospital in Eastern Europe, but it’s very rare, and even then, it lasts for maybe a day.

It’s the one thing my wife is envious of me over. When she asks how I do it, I shrug my shoulders and tell her I drink lots of water. I don’t know if that’s what it is, although I do drink lots of water, but I don’t have a better answer, and it just might get her to drink more water as well.

Some people fight off diseases that put others in the ground. It’s the reality of it, and there’s no rhyme or reason for it if you exclude providence and the will of God. Professional athletes are dropping dead of heart attacks at thirty-five, while a Rubenesque fellow who survives on gas station grilled cheese sandwiches pushing fifty is still going strong.

When it comes to the spiritual well-being of a body, however, there are prescribed steps that we must take to ensure continued health. Knowing that the enemy is always looking for an angle, for a way to cripple or destroy a congregation, the admonition James gives should be taken seriously and followed through upon.

Fully aware that I’m swimming against the current on this one, the job or function of an elder, a deacon, a bishop, or a pastor is not to amass ungodly fortunes, be lauded, cheered, praised, and deferred to, and treated like a rock star in his prime. The primary function of a leader within the body of Christ, whether that leader is an elder, a deacon, or a pastor, is to maintain the spiritual health of the body living by example.

It always leaves a bitter taste when someone insists you should do as they say and not as they do. There is a discordance there, like an errant off-key tuba in the middle of a saxophone solo. You can’t help but notice it, and though you might try, you can’t ignore it. Any minister, preacher, pastor, bishop, or leader who insists you should ignore the incongruity between what they say you should be doing and what they themselves are doing should be avoided and given a wide berth.

The selfsame individuals who insist that you should give until it hurts and just a little extra after are notorious for being some of the most tight-fisted misers you’re ever likely to run across. If it’s good for you, if it works for you, why isn’t it good for them as well? It would be an eye-opening revelation to see how much of their income some of those whose only message is about sowing seed give to those less fortunate than themselves. I know the go-to excuse is that they give of their time to teach people about sowing reaping, but that’s a trite obfuscation that has no basis in fact because they’re not sacrificing their time; they’re performing a task in return for a paycheck, a retirement package, and a golden parachute, at the expense of the naïve and desperate.

Everything else must take second place to the spiritual well-being of a church body, whether that church body meets in a sanctuary, a garage, or someone’s barn. If it’s not vibrant and healthy if their marching orders don’t come from God and aren’t carried out dutifully, it doesn’t matter how much is in the building fund or how comfortable the new pews are; it’s only a matter of time before it begins to erode and crumble.

The erosion begins from within, eating away at the fundamental truths they ought to have been building upon, but eventually, it will reveal itself without, with the godless gleefully pointing out the destruction and failings.

When we prioritize our lives in accordance with the Gospel and react to circumstances such as suffering commensurate with the Word of God, we will be able to hold our heads above water and continue our journey onward. We will not be stuck in the same place for years on end but able to overcome by the power of the One we serve.

We draw on the examples of those who came before us, those highlighted within the pages of scripture as men who knew obedience, who knew the presence of God in their lives, and how they reacted to suffering, hardship, persecution, and weakness. An example is something you aim to emulate, not see as noble, and then ignore it altogether. There is a reason that the later writers of the Bible call back on the earlier heroes of the faith because just as we are in awe of those who came before, so too were they in awe of their predecessors.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, March 18, 2024


 It may not seem like a comfort to some, but as far as I’m concerned, knowing that God is unchanging, that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, provides me with great joy. I don’t have to guess at what God’s thinking today or whether He’ll be moody tomorrow. He is the same and has been since Adam first opened his eyes and looked upon the garden God had created for him and eons before that. He will remain the same for all eternity because He said He would.

You’ll never get a memo from God informing you that the user agreement has changed or that due to a rapidly changing financial environment, your property tax payment has been reassessed, and you owe a couple hundred more every month to cover it. Everything around us is in flux. Everything changes, but God remains the same. You’re never going to find hidden charges or processing fees in God’s contract, nor will there be exemptions for a particular class or group of people.

God will never try to bait and switch you, nor will you ever be expected to dole out more than the prearranged price. Your wretchedness for His glory. Your darkness for His light. Your all for His all.

It was disheartening to walk into my local Dollar store a few weeks back and find nothing for a dollar. Their name alone would make one think that you would, but alas, they had two-dollar shelves, three-dollar shelves, and even five-dollar shelves, but no dollar shelves.

People have the same reaction when they believe the things people tell them that God promised rather than go to the source for themselves and see what God, in fact, promised. They’ve multiplied of late, being too many to count, but all have similar messages of you resting easy and God throwing wheelbarrows of money onto your sleeping form. Some even journey into the land of heresy by insisting that the reason Jesus had to die on the cross was so that you could be rich.

The gospel, according to John, makes it clear as to why God sent His only begotten Son, and it’s not so you could have a six-car garage. Anyone who tells you that God’s purpose for Jesus extends only insofar as getting what you could otherwise by the sweat of your brow if only you applied yourself is lying to your face and keeping you from seeing the glory of Christ and who He is. The Bible is not a magic lamp, and Jesus isn’t a magic genie. He will not be treated as such or be used and abused for the sake of a handful of soulless ghouls to make fortunes off the backs of the naïve and innocent.

Granted, there is an argument to be made that those seeking fortunes via Jesus are neither naïve nor innocent, gravitating toward those who tickle their ears and seeking out those who lie to their faces in the vain hope that the lies may become truth if repeated often enough, but if those pretending to be servants of Christ did not exist, if the fallacious doctrine was not made available, then even though they seek teachers whose only function is to echo their sentiments back to them, they couldn’t find them.

Believing God will never disappoint. Believing what people say about God and the assurances they dole out on His behalf, without His consent or command, will always disappoint. It’s just a matter of when, not if.

James 5:13-15, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

James painstakingly outlines how we should react to different circumstances throughout life so that it might be well with us. The first thing he mentions is suffering because it’s a reality in the lives of every person, whether rich or poor, wise or foolish. Suffering is not exclusive to any one group. We all have our seasons and valleys, and in the midst of our suffering, our singular response is to pray.

Since James is writing to believers, we can infer that believers are not exempted from suffering in this life either, but we do have a recourse, a go-to, something we can do to mitigate and find relief, and that is to pray. He doesn’t exhort us to wail and pull out our hair or go door to door and tell everyone willing to hear about our suffering; he doesn’t instruct us to go on Facebook and put up some mysterious one-sentence post that makes everyone think we’re suicidal or about to hurt ourselves just for the sympathy, rather he tells us to pray.

If you are suffering, run to God. Entreat Him via prayer, which is one of the best ways to spend our time, but one that has fallen out of favor with much of today’s church because it’s neither entertaining nor exciting to get into your prayer closet and be alone with God.

Every true servant of God, every individual who stood out in the pages of Scripture as being bold and fearless, had prayer as their foundation. It was a common and consistent practice to the point that even on pain of death were they to pray to God, they still did so because they could not be apart from fellowship with Him.

As wise servants, prayer should be our first go-to whenever suffering occurs in our lives, not our last resort. We run to God in our moments of hardship and trial, knowing He will comfort us, strengthen us, and journey with us on our way home.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Yes and No

 We’ve all been lied to at some point in our lives. We’ve all been betrayed, used, exploited, and taken advantage of, but it stings differently when a supposed brother or sister does it. Perhaps it’s because you didn’t expect the attack to come from within the camp, or you’d put your trust in the individual because they presented themselves as being of the household of faith, but it seems as though it takes longer to heal from a knife to the back than one you see coming. Maybe the one in the back just goes deeper. The one in the front you have a split second to flinch away from, if anything.

Getting blindsided is no fun. It’s happened a couple of times throughout my life, and I’ve learned enough from those experiences to know that trust should be hard-earned and not readily handed out. We are more prone to trust people who say they are of the same tribe, whether that tribe is ethnicity, nationality, denomination, or local church. It’s why most predators prey on their kind, and it’s across the board, no exceptions.

When we first arrived in America, my dad worked for a Romanian for six months without seeing a red cent for his sweat and labor. It was a construction job, and the guy kept putting off paying him until my dad demanded his back pay, and then he summarily fired him. He spoke no English and didn’t know the law or any means of redress, so he just walked away, found another job, and went to it. He’d learned his lesson, though, and never worked for another Romanian again. Is it that Romanians are disproportionately dishonest? No, but they prey on their kind, just like the Jamaicans, Chinese, Hungarians, Poles, and Germans.

We’ve all heard the stories of churches getting taken by Christian companies who took a down payment on a project only to abscond with the money or people who the pastor vouched for getting parishioners involved in some sort of pyramid scheme because the pastor was getting a cut on the back end. Countless such stories are just a Google search away, and the innocent are constantly victimized. Whether the little old lady who trusted her bishop and got bamboozled or an entire body of believers to find the building fund raided while the church secretary and the pastor are posting pictures from Fiji with the hashtag ‘Your Best Life Now!’ online, it’s always sad to witness. That it adds a new bruise to the already black-and-blue reputation and testimony of the general church goes without saying.  

I find it troubling that someone would destroy their reputation and obliterate their testimony over a payday, but these are the things we have to navigate in this life. When it comes to church folk, it’s because some have not taken James’s admonishment to heart.

James 5:12, “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.”

This is one of the reasons Christians make bad politicians, or at least they should. A politician will say one thing today, say the opposite tomorrow, and do so with a straight enough face, wherein those listening have to go back and make sure they heard the first thing right just to conclude that they’re speaking out both sides of their mouth.

When you say yes, mean it. When you say no, mean that too. Don’t be wishy-washy in word or deed, allowing your convictions to be situational rather than firm and absolute, no matter the situation or circumstance.

If you say yes to something, and the individual you say yes to requires reassurances, if they demand that you put it in writing or that you repeat your statement, then you’re likely one of those people who garnered a reputation for saying yes, then backing out, or changing your mind at a later date.

The worst words a salesman can hear are “I’m going to have to sleep on it,” followed closely by “I have to ask my wife or husband,” or “Let me think about it for a few days.” They know that the chances of follow-through plummet once those words spill out of someone’s mouth, so they’re angling for a “yes,” then once they get it as if out of thin air, they pull out the paperwork and insist that you sign on the dotted line before you leave their presence. If you’ve ever sat through a timeshare pitch, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That portable black and white rabbit ear television doesn’t seem like such a bargain now that you, your children, and your children’s children are saddled with paying the maintenance fees for the rest of your bloodline.

Never be hasty in saying yes because you’ll have to commit to the thing you said you would do, even if it becomes an inconvenience for you down the road. It used to be that a man’s word was his bond. All it took was a handshake, and you could rest assured that whatever you agreed upon would run its rightful course. The times are changing, and they already have, until finding an honest man is harder to pull off than a fat man doing cartwheels. Sadly, it’s hard to find honest people nowadays, but that shouldn’t be the case within the church. It is, I know, but it shouldn’t be, especially if we realize that there is a penalty for not being so. Lest you fall under judgment is no idle threat. It’s not something James came up with just to drive home the point of the need to be consistent, but a true and undeniable reality.

There is no place for duplicity among God’s people. It is something God will judge, for to be duplicitous is to be double-minded, and to be double-minded is to have a divided heart.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.