Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XXII

 What Peter and John, along with those who had assembled together, prayed for is telling, if not outright revelatory. Knowing that the course you’ve set upon will likely cost you your life and continuing to tread upon it is no small feat. These people were not soldiers on some battlefield half a world away; they had families, friends, businesses, and lives, yet they counted it all as a loss for the excellence of Christ Jesus, their Lord. That is the cost of the calling to which we have been called. God demands nothing less of us than He did of the early church, and perhaps it’s because we are unwilling to pay the price that we see so little of His power and presence in today’s church. If anything in your life holds preeminence over Christ, Jesus Himself said we are not worthy of Him.

Matthew 10:37-39, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

They knew it was only a matter of time before things escalated. They understood because of what Jesus had said that it would not stop with threats but that it would turn to violence because even though this coddled generation has come to believe that words can hurt, they don’t hurt nearly as much as being tied to a whipping post and lashed with a whip.

Jesus didn’t try to bait and switch His followers. He didn’t promise them mansions, only to be led into a dungeon. He didn’t promise them prosperity, only to be confronted with persecution. It was because He prepared them for what was to come that they did not hesitate or grow despondent. They knew what was coming; it was only a matter of when. Once they saw it clearly, they cried out to God, not that they might be spared or escape, but that they’d be given boldness in the face of certain death. All men die, but not all men die well. All men live, but not all men live lives worth living.

Acts 4:29-31, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

Their prayer was neither self-serving nor self-aggrandizing. They didn’t pray for money or new chariots; they didn’t even pray for their safety or protection. Their singular desire was for God to give them the boldness to speak His word and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Jesus.

They knew they were dependent upon God and could do nothing without His presence and power in their lives. They likewise knew that if they were to endure to the end, they needed boldness because it’s one thing to speak of Jesus when everyone loves you; it’s another to speak of Jesus when everyone is throwing stones at your head. That much of today’s church is unwilling to be bold for Christ when there is no threat of violence or death makes one wonder how many will do so when the cost of doing it will be their friends, families, jobs, homes, or even their lives.

It’s not as though Peter and John had not shown boldness in the face of those who threatened them, but they realized they would need more if they were to persevere and continue preaching a risen Christ. If you have no boldness, pray for it now, not when the whole world will be set on your destruction. Don’t put off praying for the things you know you will need when the time of persecution comes because the fog of war is no time to strap on your armor or learn how to use a sword.

The early church knew it was coming, and they prayed for boldness before it arrived. If you know a storm is coming, you don’t wait until it starts pouring and the thunder is rattling your windows before you start laying the sandbags down.

I live in an area that gets its fair share of snowstorms. The first thing I do before the first snowflake falls is make sure I have enough salt for the steps, and my shovel at the ready. Usually, those who wait until the last minute discover that everyone’s sold out of salt, and as far as shovels are concerned, they’re on backorder, but they can get one to you in a week’s time.

Don’t wait until the storm to figure out what you’ll need during the storm. By then, it will be too late, and you’ll be at someone else’s mercy to come and dig you out or share their salt so you don’t break a hip walking to your car.

Entreat God today for the things you will need tomorrow, whether that happens to be boldness, strength, endurance, faith, or direction. He is a good God and will answer the prayers of those who seek to do His will, who ask for things not of this earth or for this earth but for the power and gifting that can only come from His hand and will be used to further His kingdom.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, April 29, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XXI

 When the future is crystal clear and what is to follow is evident, as a child of God, you will have two choices: submit, surrender, give up, and hope to blend into the background, or persevere, endure, and commit all your ways to the Lord. You can’t avoid the hard thing forever. You can’t avoid making a choice, thinking that the storm will pass you by.

When Jesus said that all would hate us for His name’s sake, He meant it just as readily as He meant it when He said He would return. We tend to gravitate toward the positive declarations Jesus made while avoiding the ones that have a negative connotation or foretell of suffering and grief. They are no less important, however, and a wise servant takes the whole counsel of Christ to heart and not just the parts that are pleasing.

Matthew 10:21-22, “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”

Peter and John were present when Jesus spoke these words so what was happening didn’t come as a surprise, yet they were self-aware enough to know that they needed God’s help in order to endure what was coming. When they returned to their companions and reported what had gone on, they didn’t set about seeing what compromises they could make to appease the high priest, nor did they proceed with an endless celebration that they’d been freed. Rather, they raised their voices to God in one accord and cried out to Him. They knew where their help would come from, and it would not be a government body or any man but God Himself.

If you’ve ever been desperate, then you know the type of prayer this was. This was no subdued, formulaic prayer. It was a heart cry borne of a desire to see God's power and presence and to be equipped for the challenges that lay ahead. They knew what was coming, and they knew what they lacked. They didn’t beat their chests telling each other how great they were or quibbling about whose name would go on the ministry header. They never made it about them. It was always about God and about having the boldness and fortitude to continue preaching His word when the world was set against them.

Whether it had started due to jealousy or fear of losing market share, the followers of Christ were now in the crosshairs of the Sanhedrin, high priest, Pharisees, and all the other religious luminaries of their time, and the disciples understood what this meant. It’s funny how, during the days of the early church, the Pharisees and their ilk spoke of miracles in the past tense, just as some speak of them in the past tense in our day.

If asked directly, all of them would likely have agreed that God was a God of miracles, but they would point to the days of Moses and Elijah and say He did miracles, but in those days, during that time, not so much today, so just come and bring your offerings and nevermind all that supernatural stuff. When confronted with the true power of God and the reality that God remained the same as He’d ever been, able to heal, restore, and do miracles because they could not humble themselves or wrap their minds around the idea that though they thought themselves spiritually superior a couple of fishermen had outshined them, they chose the attempted eradication of those whom God had chosen to turn the world upside down.

There’s a lesson in this we would do well to heed because history has a way of repeating, and though they might go by a different name, a Pharisee can’t change its stripes.

A Pharisee will be content with an emotional response rather than insist upon a transformed life. It makes for good television to see a thousand people raise their hands at a crusade, but how many of those thousand come back the next day, humble themselves, repent, and submit to Christ? How many of them deny themselves, pick up their crosses, and become true disciples of Jesus?

Those who had gathered together to cry out to God were not interested in superficial religiosity. No one lays down their lives for something superficial or something they can get in any other religion without the threat of reprisal. I hear Buddhists are great on the tambourine, too, as are the Hare Krishna, and if you’re looking for positivity or structured purpose, there’s always Hinduism or Scientology. There are nearly four thousand recognized religions in the world, but only one faith whose head died on a cross rose from the dead on the third day and then ascended into heaven. There is only one faith that insists upon a relationship with God rather than blind adherence to a set of rules.

Those who had gathered together had found truth, had found light, had found life, and they were not about to capitulate and surrender this greatest of treasures. When we understand the value of something, we are more likely to hold it near, protect it, prioritize it, and sacrifice for it. The early church knew what they had, and no amount of threats or persecution would sway them from following Christ. Jesus is the treasure. He is the pearl of great price, and those who come to the knowledge of Him are no longer their own but surrender their lives to Him in all things.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XX

 Once the enemy has all his pieces in place and persecution commences, any presumption of innocence goes out the window. It has been a pattern since the early church, continuing into our modern day, and it will be so until the return of Christ.

Because of the freedoms we’ve enjoyed in America for as long as this nation has been a nation, we’re naturally inclined to believe that if we are innocent, then all this talk of persecution shouldn’t concern us because we will have recourse in a court of law whereby we will be shown to be innocent.

What were Peter and John’s crimes? They had committed none, yet the captain of the temple, along with the Sadducees, laid hands on them and put them in custody. They weren’t cordially invited, they weren’t asked to cooperate, and chances are that when hands were laid on them, it wasn’t gentle. The day will come, and in many instances, it’s already evident, wherein the law will be perverted to such a degree that those putting you to death will think they are doing something noble and virtuous.

They’ll be doing God’s work by golly, ridding the world of people who just won’t go along with, accept, and embrace the new paradigm. I mean, why won’t they trust the science? It’s science, after all; what do they know that scientists don’t? Well, obviously, that men can’t get pregnant, girls can’t be boys, and gender is fixed and absolute, but there I go, being a science denier all over again.

In their minds, you are already guilty. You have already committed the unpardonable sin of questioning their narrative or, worse still, their perceived authority. Even when they are proven to be wrong about a given thing they insisted was essential for human survival or about an existential crisis that would only be solved by face diapers and repeated chemical injections; they’ll never apologize or admit they were wrong. Rather, they’ll double down and dare you to imagine how bad it would have been had they not scared the world half to death and arrested mothers for the high crime of allowing their children to breathe fresh air and play on some monkey bars.

They know full well they have no way of proving it would have been worse, but that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it because the story is all they’ve got.

The devil doesn’t need proof or justification to persecute the children of God; he just needs an excuse. The devil is not interested in playing fair, above board, or being consistent about his accusations or whether they’re true or fabricated. You healed a lame man in the name of Jesus? How dare you? Unacceptable is what that is. You’d better stop it if you know what’s good for you.

They didn’t hurt Peter and John because they couldn’t, not because they didn’t want to. They feared the people’s reaction to the point of deciding to let them go because they’d been around long enough to know that people are fickle, opinions change, and today’s hero can become tomorrow’s villain with the right narrative and backstory. They chose to bide their time and began recruiting henchmen, muscle, and those who would go out and become the scourge of the followers of Christ for decades to come.

To their credit, Peter and John understood what was going on, so they didn’t sigh in relief and go off singing Hillsong for a few hours, thinking that it was a close one. They knew this was the shot across the bow, the moment everything changed, and they went in search of the brethren.

Once you know what’s coming, it is incumbent upon you to prepare for it. If you need boldness, strength, grace, faith, or know of any other thing you are lacking or short on, use the time of freedom you have left to pray for those things and do so consistently.

Acts 4:23-26, “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voices to God with one accord and said, “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’”

When everything changes in an instant, it’s always good to have someone to run to, someone to share the burden with, someone to draw strength from, fellowship with, and lean on. Yes, God is ever present, always there to listen and comfort, but that does not mean we are called upon to be the lone wolves of Christendom, wandering the wilderness, absent of camaraderie and brotherhood. We will yearn tomorrow for the things we forsake today, and the assembling of ourselves together is one of those things.

Upon being let go, Peter and John went to their own companions. They didn’t go to the courthouse to file briefs or in search of a lawyer to sue the Sanhedrin for mistreating them. They understood that they would not find justice from men because corrupt systems do not produce just outcomes, and corrupt men do not lend their ears to the truth. It’s a hard lesson that some will learn shortly, and the injustice they will suffer at the hands of those supposedly doling out justice will be like an unexpected gut punch to the solar plexus.

If those making the laws despise God, hate Jesus, and detest His followers, what makes you think that their laws will be just? Great atrocities have been committed by those whose justification was either that they were just following orders or they were just following the law. Prepare your heart for a time when you will have no recourse and when you will suffer for doing good because it is coming.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Friday, April 26, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XIX

 Only in our day and age would the godless have the gall to insist that what people are seeing really isn’t and what they’re hearing is likewise not as it is. If they can’t convince you that you imagined it, they’ll revert to arguing that your experience was anecdotal and so cannot be trusted to establish something as fact. That is until the shoe is on the other foot, and they insist that anecdotal evidence is science, and if you deny it, you’re a murderer of the worst sort.

Those who had put Peter and John on trial didn’t even bother trying to convince them that they were mistaken, that perhaps they’d imagined Christ rising from the dead, or that it was a hallucination brought upon by grief. You can tell when someone will not be moved from their position when their faith is solid and true and rooted in the divine.

Despite the threats they faced, Peter and John stood their ground. Their response was not one of fear or subservience but of unwavering faith. The authorities, who were accustomed to manipulating, intimidating, or browbeating others, could not read fear in their eyes. This display of courage likely left the authorities planning their next move in frustration.

If you fear dying for Jesus, you’re never going to truly live for Him. If the goal is to spare your life and not to faithfully follow after Him, you’ll always find a way of avoiding confrontation with the darkness but at the expense of compromising your values, beliefs, ethics, and morals.

It’s a slippery slope. One compromise will lead to another, and one omission will lead to ten. Because the focus is on preserving the flesh rather than the preaching of the gospel, you will justify any compromise, including denying Him before men.

I’ve seen it happen even in the best of times, where men compromised themselves for something as trivial as being glad-handed by Oprah or appearing next to someone they know full well is an enemy of the cross. The justification is always that it’s a bigger platform, and they can reach more people, but somehow, they never get around to preaching a risen Christ once that occurs.

If you’re lukewarm and mealy-mouthed before your sit-down interview with Larry King, then you’ll be lukewarm and mealy-mouthed during your sit-down interview as well. Boldness is birthed in the hearts of those who have seen and heard, who have known the Christ and not just known of Him, and there are many today who have been elevated to the heights of fame, even deemed spiritual authorities, who’ve only heard of Jesus but have never had an encounter with Him.

We must accept the reality that although we do not intend to offend the world by preaching a risen Christ, the world will take offense nonetheless. This does not mean that we should cease preaching Him or, worse, deny Him before men so we might retain their favor or approval. Our goal and purpose is not the world’s approval but Christ’s approval.

Acts 4:21-22, So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.”

That their frame of mind was to punish Peter and John for having healed a lame man is telling. There was no wonder in being unable to explain how the miracle had occurred; there was no pause or contemplation that perhaps they should allow the truth spoken to them to take root in their hearts. They just wanted to do away with the inconvenience and potential danger of it all, but they couldn’t because of the people.

The people had likewise seen the miracle, and they were glorifying God. If Peter and John happened to disappear mysteriously, there would be questions, perhaps even an uprising, and they just couldn’t risk it.

The devil learns from his mistakes. He’s realized that in order to be able to persecute the followers of Christ at will, he first has to demonize and marginalize them to the point that public opinion is turned against them. Granted, they hadn’t had enough time to foment hatred against those of the way. It had been less than a day between the lame man being healed and Peter and John being brought before them for trial, but time was on their side, and although they couldn’t punish them on that day, their sleight would not be forgotten or forgiven.

From this day forward, they would always be considered foes, adversaries, and enemies of the status quo and would have to be dealt with. Once they had the people on their side, all pretense of civility would disappear, the mask would slip off, and their true nature would be revealed.

It’s a ruse the church has fallen for over and over again. The enemy plays nice until the moment he has consolidated power in any given generation; then, the persecution commences in earnest. People believers thought to be allies and friends turn on them in an instant, and the whole notion of coexisting goes out the window, memory holed, with the godless pretending as though they never subscribed to such infantile theories. Why would we want to coexist with those standing in the way of progress? Why would we want to coexist with those standing in the way of a brighter tomorrow and a glorious future?

By the time they realize tomorrow is darker rather than brighter, that the future is bleak rather than glorious, the plans have already been put into motion, the children of God have already been crushed beneath the weight of their animus, yet what remains when the dust settles, is a refined, purified, tested, and glorious church. We tend to fear the fire, the hammer, and the anvil, but only until we realize that without these, iron can never be shaped or sharpened. We tend to fear persecution only when we fail to acknowledge that a martyr’s reward awaits those who are called upon to lay their lives down for the gospel’s sake and endure to the end.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XVIII

 The presence, power, and authority of God are disruptive to the religions and religiosity of men. The reason it’s disruptive is twofold: first, it opens the people’s eyes to the reality that there is more than empty ceremonies and dry homilies to be had when serving God, and second, it reveals the impotence of the figureheads who’ve grown comfortable and slothful in their feigned worship. It’s the difference between seeing a picture of a roaring fire and sitting by one as the logs pop and crackle in the hearth and the heat warms your face.

Those who are simply religious and not in a relationship with Jesus see everyone else as their competition rather than their brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s all about market share and their piece of the pie. It’s not about serving God but themselves and retaining the power base they’ve amassed. When they deem someone a threat to the status quo, they will do their utmost to silence or otherwise do away with them altogether. No self-awareness was present, and there was no introspection as to how Peter and John had healed the lame man or whether their words had credence. All the ruling religious class knew was that they had to be silenced.

Peter and John weren’t out to make a name for themselves. They weren’t out to start some sort of cottage industry or elevate their individual status, but through it all, they pointed to Jesus and credited Him for all that had been done. There’s a valuable lesson in this, one we should take to heart, because any man who points to himself, elevates himself, honors himself, or deems himself the author of wisdom, power, or miracles is a fool and one who has not humbled himself in the sight of the Lord.

Peter and John had not set out to do anything more than go to the temple together at the hour of prayer. This is likely what they did week in and week out because their desire was to worship God, not engineer a revival of their own making. God provides the opportunities. We don’t have to manufacture them. What is incumbent upon us is to be ready to be used when God sees fit to do so, in whatever capacity He might deem.

It’s doubtful that either Peter or John woke up thinking that this would be the day that changed everything. They were going up to the temple to pray. That was all they’d intended on doing. Yet, God facilitated the encounter with the lame man and, thereby, the opportunity for them to preach, resulting in about five thousand men who believed. It doesn’t matter how many posters, fliers, advance teams, or radio spots they would have availed themselves of; they could never have matched the success of what occurred that day on their own.

In our day and age, we try very hard to manufacture revival rather than focus on growing our faith and obedience, and the results are less than ideal. A flash in the pan is just that. It dies down just as quickly as it flares up because there is nothing to sustain it. Peter and John were just going about their daily lives, and in an instant, the ordinary became extraordinary.

Another worthwhile lesson is that if God presents us with an opportunity to share the gospel, to preach Christ and Him crucified and risen, we should avail ourselves of it even if we know full well there will be consequences to doing so. A soul is worth more than my job, my comfort, my reputation, or my freedom. That is the mindset we must possess as true followers of Christ that we might never squander an opportunity or miss a chance to step out in faith and further the kingdom of God.

We are on a lifelong mission to preach the gospel to all men. It’s not exclusive to those with a degree or those with a title but everyone who is a follower of Christ. When we are mission-focused, we will recognize when God brings someone into our path and when He creates an opportunity to share our faith.

Although the early church was prepared for persecution because of the words Jesus spoke to them, the suddenness with which it descended likely came as a surprise. One day, they were beloved by the people; the next, they were being hounded and hunted, vilified and demonized. Life turns on a dime. It can happen that quickly, and if you’re not expecting it and prepared for it, it will catch you by surprise.

Deer in headlights is not a good look for the children of God. Knowing what we know of what the Bible says regarding how the world will view us, what the last days will look like, and that we would be hated by all nations for His name’s sake, we should never be in a position where we didn’t anticipate something or didn’t see it coming from a mile away.

Peter and John had already committed to their course. There was no hesitation or indecision when it came to declaring the risen Christ, nor was there any temerity in their answer to the high priest and his ilk when threatened not to speak the name of Jesus.

In the simple words of simple men, Peter and John made it clear that their choice was binary. Either they would obey men or God, and they’d chosen to obey God no matter what the men might say in order to dissuade them from this purpose. They didn’t try to obfuscate or explain their reasoning behind it. They didn’t try to lessen the blow of telling the high priest that his threats had fallen on deaf ears. They weren’t being rude or disrespectful, just direct.

When the enemy comes to threaten you or attempts to keep you from preaching Jesus, be direct in your declaration that no matter what he might throw your way, your allegiance is to Christ and Him alone. You don’t need to explain yourself to the devil. You don’t need to try and ingratiate yourself to him by trying to see his side of the argument. What he wants is either your denial of Christ or your destruction. Why play nice with someone like that?

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XVII

 Studies have shown that when you’re trying to perpetrate fraud or pull the wool over someone’s eyes, such as a pyramid scheme, multi-level marketing, or a church-run investment fund, there are three points along the way where you’re vulnerable. The first point someone is vulnerable is during the groundwork stage, where you’re putting all your pieces into place. The second is when you’re getting it off the ground before you have enough people on board so they can vouch for the return you promise the dupes, and the third is toward the end stage when you’ve been found out and fear that someone close will roll over on you and spill the beans.

There is a moment during the third stage when the individual sees the writing on the wall and pulls the chord. They push the eject button and attempt to disassociate themselves because keeping up the ruse means suffering consequences they are not willing to suffer. Politicians are masters at this, saying one thing today and another tomorrow and denying that they said either of the two so passionately that one would think the video of them saying the things they deny saying was a hoax of some kind.

I’ve been asked on occasion why I believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He rose from the dead, but the caveat was to exclude the say-so of the disciples or the eyewitness accounts. Those doing the asking are usually college-aged kids who took some introductory course on agnosticism or are parroting their communist professor who insists that gods are a human construct necessary to alleviate the pain of being human.

There’s always some veiled dig about how I seem too bright to believe in spaghetti monsters and how any reasonable person would be skeptical of two-thousand-year-old stories. They go into this long litany about how it all got passed down from word of mouth and how you can’t trust eyewitness accounts, and my answer is always because of the actions of those who’d been with Christ after His crucifixion.

If Peter and John had been perpetrating a fraud or playing a long con the moment they were brought before the ruling religious class, they would have pulled the chord on their scheme. You don’t keep to your story when not only don’t you have anything to gain, but you have everything to lose if you stick to it. If it was just a fabrication, a lie, a well-orchestrated sleight of hand where they took the body of Christ and hid it somewhere, this was the time they would have cried, Uncle, and confessed to their misdeeds. To proceed any further would be to stir the ire of the most powerful people of their day, and con men don’t want to get on the wrong side of the powerful if they can help it.

They were offered an out. We’ll let bygones be bygones if you promise not to speak to any man in the name of Jesus. We can pretend as though this never happened; we’ll find some way of spinning the once-lame man leaping about, but you have to promise not to bring up Christ again.

The only surprise in this exchange is that they didn’t try to bribe Peter and John. They skipped over the bribery and went straight to the threats, so somewhere in the deep recesses of their darkened hearts, those making the threats knew the authenticity of their claims. If they’d supposed it was a con job from the start, and the end goal of this con job was some sort of payoff, they would have likely offered them silver and gold just to be rid of the problem.

If Jesus is your everything, then nothing can sway you from your faithfulness and conviction, whether offers of wealth or threats of death, praise from men, or their hatred. You have all you’ve ever wanted and all you’ll ever want. You have Jesus, and He is sufficient. Because He is the treasure, the end goal, and not just a means to an end, once you are His and He is yours, nothing can beguile or tempt you away from His love.

The threats only work when men try to have divided loyalties or situational commitment to Christ. It’s when men are not wholly committed to daily denying themselves and picking up their crosses that the enemy’s schemes and machinations are effective. They compromise the truth for the sake of baubles, fame, or the adulation of those who secretly despise them because their heart's desire was never Christ but something other.

The dividing line is clear, and the sifting is inevitable. Even among those of the early church who preached the truth and proffered no promise of wealth and riches and taught it as gospel, there were those who walked away, and Paul speaks of such men, as do John, Peter, James, Jude, and even Christ.

Acts 4:18-20, “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Peter and John didn’t have to confer with each other about whether they would take the deal. Neither was afraid that his brother in Christ would throw them under the bus and take the offer while hanging the other out to dry.

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose whom you call your brother or sister in Christ. The only metric that suffices when doing so is whether they are as committed to the way of righteousness as you are and if they are as willing to lay it all on the line. If not, there will always be that nagging question of whether they will stand or fold when the road gets hard and the pressure mounts.

It’s one of the reasons attacks from within the body are often so successful and destructive. If you can’t trust the person in the foxhole next to you, if you have to watch your back as well as your front, then the chances of victory are slim to none. However, when you have a common foe and know that it’s either them or you, your only concern is engaging the enemy, knowing that the others are doing likewise.

Peter harbored no doubts about John, and John harbored no doubts about Peter. They were of one mind; they had seen what they had seen and heard what they had heard and would not be swayed from the truth no matter the threats or by whom the threats were being leveled.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XVI

 Their problem was Jesus. It had been from the beginning, and they thought they’d solved their problem by conspiring to have him crucified. Now, it was His followers doing miracles in His name and teaching that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Simple men were doing what the most learned men of the time couldn’t, and that ate at them.

This couldn’t be of God; surely it couldn’t; if God were going to use anybody, it would surely be someone like a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, or even the high priest. They weren’t special enough to be used by God in such a manner. They were na├»ve in the ways of the world and didn’t have the first clue about marketing their gift, starting a television ministry, growing the fanbase, and monetizing. The gift of miracles was being wasted on people who had no inkling of how they could use it to elevate their own names and positions—doing good just for the sake of doing good? How quaint.

If being nice was all Christianity was about, Peter and John would never have gotten in trouble. For that matter, if helping the poor, or being charitable, leaving big tips, or not complaining when the service is sub-par was all Christianity was about, Peter and John still wouldn’t have gotten in trouble.

It wasn’t even so much that the lame man had been healed; it’s who they attributed the healing to. It doesn’t matter what the devil claims his problem is with the children of God. When you boil it down and you strip away all the isms, feelings, new science, and nonsense, the devil hates God’s children because of Jesus and His name’s sake.

The Pharisees could have even lived with Peter and John, healing the odd person here and there, but what they couldn’t abide was that they taught men of Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead.

A few weeks back, one of the most popular churches in America declared that during resurrection Sunday, there would be no mention of Calvary, the blood of Jesus, or the resurrection. Not that they mention these things regularly the rest of the year; it’s one of those self-improvement clubs masquerading as a church, but to go out of your way to declare to one and all that you won’t be mentioning the resurrection on resurrection Sunday is a new level of cowardice. Congratulations! You’ve done what the Pharisees demanded of Peter and John without even being threatened or given a dressing down by powerful people.

That’s the troubling thing with the over-inflated sense of self that most churchgoing folk in the West have. You’re voluntarily censoring the message of the cross, the name of Jesus, His resurrection, and His ascension without ever being threatened by the agents of darkness. I wonder what they would omit if real threats by individuals who had the wherewithal to follow through on them were ever leveled against such people. You’re telling me they’ll finally discover they have a backbone? An amoeba in the sun will be an amoeba in the snow, just a shivering one.

You’ll know it when you see it, and you’ll remember someone warned you about it, but when the sifting comes, the greatest enemies the true followers of Jesus will have to contend with are the social justice congregations masquerading as true believers. They’ve already capitulated, stopped preaching Christ and the cross, and see you as an affront to their sensibilities because you are unwilling to cower and surrender as they have.

While the godless will raise them up as examples of what they believe a real Christian should be: docile, inoffensive, easily swayed, malleable, and compromised, they will point to you as the roadblock standing in the way of unity. What they fail to mention is that for there to be unity between the light and the dark, the light must die out. Yes, you, too, can avoid being persecuted; just deny Jesus, and we can be friends. But if we deny Jesus, what is left of our faith? If we marginalize the Christ and refuse to boldly declare that He is the risen savior of mankind, what sets us apart from all the other religions of the world that are just trying to be good and kind and accepting of the most depraved of practices?

When Communism took root in the old country, the first thing those in power did was make a list of government-approved churches. The leaders of those churches were vetted to ensure that what they taught was obedience to the motherland and nothing more. There was no talk of Jesus, His power, the Holy Spirit, or the way of righteousness, just general tropes about how the greater good was the paramount goal and how refusing to comply would be deemed rebellion against God.

The churches the government approved of were left alone, neither harassed nor persecuted. Nobody was showing up in the wee hours of the morning to arrest their pastors, nobody was terminating the employment of their parishioners, nobody was showing up to church with a black eye or missing teeth, and because those in authority had been compromised, they pointed to their absence of persecution and sacrifice as a grace and a blessing from on high rather than the fruit of their betrayal of Jesus.

Eventually, the narrative became that it served those people being persecuted right because they didn’t know when to keep their heads down and go along to get along. Does that particular narrative ring any bells? It should. Whether it’s abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, or any of a dozen aberrant practices, whenever a church, a pastor, or a believer gets run through the mud by the godless, has their livelihood threatened and painted as the worst human since Hitler, and in some instances even worse than Hitler, there’s always some non-binary pastor of some Unitarian church showing up on television insisting that it serves them right. Jesus is all about love and acceptance, after all, so those people talking about sin and righteousness or holiness unto God are just not being very Christ-like and deserve to be shunned by society.

The message of the cross has been twisted by the wolves who have crept in unnoticed, the character of Jesus has been redefined, and those who continue to cling to truth and pursue righteousness continue to be vilified and demonized by those claiming to be of the household of faith. It only adds fuel to the fire and emboldens the godless to take ever-increasing violent measures. How do you think this is going to end?

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XV

 It’s not as though those who conferred on what Peter and John’s punishment should be didn’t want to throw them in a dark cell and forget about them, or better still, silence them permanently. There were ways, and surely, they were privy to them because it wasn’t the first time they had to deal with people they perceived as a threat to their power and authority.

They would have gladly done either or both, but they had the people to think about. They had to consider those who had seen the miracle and witnessed the power of God, and they couldn’t figure out a way of explaining Peter and John’s disappearance without stirring their ire.

They understood the pressure the crowds could exert and weren’t willing to endure it just to get rid of two fishermen. You can tell a lot about an elder board or a group of men in authority by what they prioritize and deem existential. The absence of reflection as to what it meant that two uneducated men with no formal training were able to do what their entire retinue could never dream of doing, that Jesus of Nazareth, whose murder they’d had a hand in, was identified as the source of the power, or that Peter and John insisted God had raised Him from the dead on the third day didn’t factor into their decision. One thing mattered above all else: how to keep it from spreading.

These were not seekers of truth, open-minded souls looking for the light. They just wanted to retain the power they’d consolidated, and if that meant ignoring bonafide, demonstrable miracles, so be it.

When those in power, whether religious or political, are confronted with something they can’t explain away, their first recourse is to ignore the thing they can’t explain. The second is to silence and do away with anyone they deem to be in opposition. They know they can’t win in a fair fight, and a fair fight is not what they’re interested in. It’s all about the win. How they get there is not a concern. If they have to lie, cheat, steal, obfuscate, and gaslight, so be it. The ends justify the means, and if a few lives have to be ruined and a few innocents have to spend the rest of their days in dank cells eating skewered rats, so be it.

Because of what Jesus had told them about their future, Peter and John understood that there was a noble purpose for which the fires of persecution were being stoked. This is one of those perception-altering revelations that the Western church has yet to glean because we’re too busy worrying about our flesh to be concerned with our spiritual man.

Often, fire is necessary to burn away the things we are bound with. In order for us to move freely in the midst of the furnace and be unencumbered, the fire must do its part and burn away those things that choke off our ability to grow.

If you’ve read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego carefully, you’ve noticed that the three weren’t simply marched into the furnace but bound in their coats, trousers, turbans, and other garments, like so many human burritos that were set to be grilled alive. It would not make for a civilized spectacle to have three human torches leaping about trying to put the fire out, so they were bound and hurled in.

It seemed like all was lost—three men bound and falling in the midst of the burning fiery furnace—yet God had other plans. Whether the world counts you out is irrelevant as long as God is still on your side. Even when the enemy is getting ready to pop the cork on the champagne and celebrate your demise, God can turn the situation around in such a way that it will leave everyone who knew of it speechless and befuddled.

It may not have been pleasant for them at the moment, but the fire was a necessary component of their victory. It was the fire that burned away the garments with which they were bound so that they might walk freely among the flames. The fire freed them, and the thing the enemy attempted to use as the means of their destruction was used as the means of their freedom.

 To know the character of our God is to know that He is with us even in the fiery trials. To know the character of our God is to know that He will use any situation or circumstance for the good of those who love Him, even if, at the moment, it seems unlikely or impossible to human reason.

Rather than fear the flame and obsess over how to best avoid it, our time would be better spent discovering its purpose and resting in the knowledge that there is a purpose to it that God knows of beyond what we can see in the moment.

There was nothing Peter and John could have done to affect their current situation. There was no higher authority in the land they could entreat, there was no powerful or influential person they knew who could put in a good word, and they didn’t have money to buy their way out of their predicament. All they could do was trust in God and be faithful to the message of the cross, boldly proclaiming the risen Christ.

Our hope is not in politicians, political parties, people of influence, denominations, or net worth. Our hope is in Christ, and if our hope is in anything other than Christ, whatever else we place our hope in will fail us at some point or another. We are faithful to Him! Not the televangelist on television or the sleep-deprived guy on the internet who posts long-winded articles before the crack of dawn. Jesus is Lord; everyone else is either a servant and co-laborer in His harvest field or someone sowing tares among the wheat.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XIV

 If there were no purpose to discussing persecution and ultimately being prepared for it other than an intellectual exercise, I’d be wasting your time and mine as well. The ultimate objective in being prepared for the advent of persecution is so we might be equipped to endure it, weather it, and ultimately be living testimonies to the power of God to preserve and keep us whole through whatever the agents of darkness might throw our way.

It may have fallen out of favor with the modern-day church, but I take Christ’s words seriously and at face value. Between what He said and what others say He meant by what He said, I’ll believe Jesus meant it as He said it and go from there.

The ultimate goal of persecution is to break the individual and bring them to the point of renouncing their faith and denying Christ as Lord and King. Yes, I’ve heard the insinuations that you can deny Him as long as you don’t mean it or as long as you cross your fingers behind your back, but the reality is that Jesus told us what would become of those who deny Him before man, and it’s nothing to gloss over or take lightly.

Matthew 10:32-33, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Untested faith is unproven faith. We’d rather God take our word for it and believe us when we say we are faithful to the utmost, but sometimes He chooses to test our faith and, at other times, allows us to go through a situation that, although uncomfortable for the flesh, will bring glory and honor to His name.

The prism through which many view persecution today is a negative one. They would do anything to avoid the possibility of persecution because they associate it with pain, privation, lack, and powerlessness. I’m not here to convince you it’s a walk in the park, but I will point out that Jesus said those who are persecuted for righteousness's sake are blessed.

They’re not being punished, taught a lesson, on the outs with God, or cursed, as I heard a preacher once claim in between asking for money for his second private jet. Jesus calls those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness blessed!

Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The truth will always have enemies in a world of lies. The light will always be at enmity with the darkness. It’s the reality of the world we live in, and if you believe that the godless play fair or that they’d never go so low as to accuse anyone falsely, you’ve been living under a rock for the better part of a decade.

If there is no friction between the church and the world, it only means that the church has thrown in the towel, given up the fight, and acquiesced to the enemy's demands. Light and darkness cannot coexist peaceably. It’s an impossibility. 

If you are a believer actively working out your salvation with fear and trembling, pursuing righteousness and being light, the darkness will eventually target you, harass you, threaten you, and ultimately persecute you. It is an inevitability. It is certain and absolute.

If the devil is leaving most modern-day Christians alone, it’s because he has nothing to fear from them. They are in a state of such lethargy, lukewarm, and indifferent when it comes to spiritual matters that the enemy knows they pose no threat. When someone belongs to Christ in name only, they belong to the enemy in action and deed. When there is no action behind the words men utter in affirmation of being followers of Christ, they are likened to a spouse who, although they took a vow to be faithful until death do they part, is cheating their way through the telephone book.

If we cannot deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him in times of plenty and ease, when we have no opposition and no threat of persecution, what makes us think that we will do so when hardship, famine, and the threat of losing one’s freedom and even life become ever-present?

If we can’t be faithful in the good times, what makes us think we will be in the hard ones?

When we are instructed to build up our most holy faith, to pursue righteousness and spiritual growth with the single-minded focus of someone who has no other goals but to know the fullness of Christ, it’s not just for the present, but that we might be prepared for the future so that when we are called upon to endure we will have the wherewithal to do so.

God doesn’t issue baseless warnings. He is not a fear-monger, nor is He interested in views or clicks. When God warns, it’s with the singular intent of His children being in a state of preparedness, ready to give a defense to everyone who asks them a reason for the hope that is in them.

Nobody decides to run a marathon today and then does it tomorrow. They have to work their way up to it, running a little more each day until they are physically and mentally ready. If there is no preparation involved, then we risk being a cautionary tale like Pheiddipides, who ran from Marathon to Athens only to drop dead after delivering his message. Build up your spiritual endurance before your greatest test arises. Once it comes, there will be time for nothing more but to endure. 

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, April 19, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XIII

 It begins with threats. It escalates from there. Somewhere along the way, you will be offered the option of crying uncle, pulling the chord, and severing ties with Jesus, but know that betraying Jesus will be the cost of your flesh being spared and nothing less. If the enemy can’t compel you to deny Christ, then he’ll settle for destroying your flesh. It’s out of pettiness more than anything because he knows what is written about those who suffer for Christ’s sake and the reward they receive when He returns, but he can’t help himself.

If you’ve ever seen a group of children playing and one petulant child being denied a toy setting about destroying it because if he can’t have it, no one should, you understand the devil’s mindset when it comes to his anger and rage toward those he is unable to bend and break.

I’ve collected enough stories to know that until the moment you’re faced with the idea of having your fingernails yanked out with pliers, sitting on a toasty electric chair, and waiting for the current to zap you senseless, or watching four men strip down to their undershirts in preparation for beating you to a pulp, it’s easy to beat one’s chest and declare how you’re bold and unflinching.

The reality is that no matter how brave an individual might be, it’s God who sustains them through those moments. Otherwise, none would stand, and all would fold. There’s only so much the human form can take before it breaks. No one can hold out indefinitely or endure torture for months and years. Eventually, something snaps, something gives, and the human psyche fractures just to disassociate itself from the pain the body is enduring. This is why you will never see someone who has endured such things boast in themselves or of themselves but rather give all glory to God, for they know who sustained them and carried them through.

Man is inventive. Especially when causing pain to his fellow man. The pain isn’t always physical either because there have been documented instances when someone was able to endure untold physical pain but broke when confronted with psychological torment. One of the cruelest things the Securitate used to do back in the day had nothing to do with beatings or physical torture. They would confine a married pastor, preacher, Bible smuggler, or someone they deemed unsavory in a cell for a week or two, even better if they had children, and every day go into graphic detail about what was being done to them all because the individual in question refused to cooperate.  They could go and save their families. All they had to do was write a few names on a piece of paper or give the location of the next shipment of Bibles.

The psychological weight of that possibly happening to loved ones was enough to get many a soul to betray their brothers and sisters in Christ and name them as co-conspirators. Those who remained strong did so because they trusted that God was protecting their families, their wives, and their children because they were suffering for doing good.

I’m well aware that this is an uncomfortable topic. Every time it’s brought up in a public church setting, there’s always at least one individual who admits that they are afraid of the possibility of having to endure persecution, especially physical torture, and to that, I say, so was every individual who has ever had to go through it.

This isn’t the movies; this is real life, and everyone I’ve talked to who was tortured for the sake of Christ confessed to having the selfsame fear all of us share, but their love for Jesus overrode their momentary fear, and with the aid, help, and comfort of the Holy Spirit, they endured. That perfect love casts out fear has become an overused trope readily found stenciled on pieces of driftwood in your local crafts store for a nominal fee, but in moments such as these, wherein fear threatens to engulf one’s senses, it is that perfect love that keeps the faithful steadfast and determined.

For me, it’s not so much the fear of death but how long it might take for me to die that I find myself dwelling on when contemplating suffering for the faith. The dying part is easy enough. I’ve seen enough people breathing their last to know that it’s as easy as breathing your last. It’s the journey toward that final breath that might get a bit bumpy, but I know that if I falter, He will be there to see me through.

I have done what Peter counseled; I have sanctified the Lord God in my heart, and now all I can do is pray for strength to endure to the end. I can’t control what tomorrow will bring, but I can control how I meet it. Neither can you, but you already know that, so why fret and worry about what you can’t control?

Although we cannot know what we will be called upon to suffer, we can do our utmost to prepare earnestly for the eventuality thereof. Today, I can pray. Today, I can grow in God. Today, I can learn to stand on His promises and sanctify Him in my heart. There is a lot we can do today that we put off until tomorrow because our minds are too busy wondering what tomorrow will bring.

See it for the snare that it is. The weaker you are tomorrow because you have not matured in God today, the easier it will be to shake, intimidate, and scare you.

Peter and John, along with the early church, did not squander their time of relative peace. They didn’t take it for granted that they were loved by the people because they cared for the widows and the poor, but they came together daily in prayer and fellowship, knowing that it was a momentary respite. They knew it was momentary because they believed Jesus when He’d warned that eventually, they would be hated, maligned, scourged, and put to death.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XII

 The early church didn’t set out looking to be persecuted, but persecution found them nonetheless. If you live your life according to the Gospel and obeying Jesus is your singular goal, in time, persecution will find you as well. Jesus said as much, and even though this present generation is doing its utmost to ignore that particular reality, pretending as though Jesus never said the things He did, eventually, His words in this regard will be proven true, as were all the other things He said.

At some point during Peter’s discourse, the powers that be realized they’d bitten off more than they could chew. They’d hoped this mock trial, because that’s what it was, would remedy the situation, Peter and John would be cowed, and they could go back to business as usual.

It’s not that they didn’t put effort into it. Arranging for an overnight trial in which the highest ruling religious class in the land would be in attendance was no small feat. Schedules had to be reorganized, meetings had to be canceled, and high-ranking individuals who were shown deference in all things had to be put out, all because two fishermen had performed a miracle they could not explain or hide from the public eye. At least, that’s how they saw it. They could not allow this to continue, and pressure had to be brought to bear.

They never once considered the substance of what Peter had said or allowed for the idea that he might be correct, and they’d crucified the Son of God, who later rose from the dead. They were too set in their ways for any of that, even with all the anecdotal evidence pointing to the veracity of Peter’s claims. They knew of the empty tomb; the once lame man was standing before them in full health; those responsible for his healing, at least in their eyes, were simple men of low status, yet their singular concern was how to keep the message of a risen Christ from spreading to the masses.

Acts 4:13-14, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”

It’s not so much that they denied Jesus; they didn’t want to acknowledge Him. Jesus leaves a mark. You can’t be with Jesus and remain the same as you were before you knew Him. They realized they’d been with Jesus by the sheer fact that the things they said could not be said outside of some event taking place in Peter and John’s lives to make them more than the sum of all they’d been prior to it.

We have two guys who smell like fish, who are neither educated nor trained, yet here they stand, boldly declaring that save for the name of Jesus, there is no salvation in any other. Those who had put Peter and John on trial were astute enough to understand that it was not of themselves that they possessed such wisdom but that they had been with Jesus, and that makes all the difference. To complicate matters, the man who had been healed was standing with them, and as the adage goes, the proof is in the pudding.

In our modern age, we’ve somehow managed to disassociate from reality and pretend as though what we’re seeing really isn’t there, but they hadn’t mastered that particular skill during the time of the early church. The undeniable reality that two simple men were speaking profound truths and that a once lame man was standing before them was too much for those judging Peter and John to ignore or disregard.

Although we can’t draw any conclusions about John, we know that boldness was not characteristic of Peter. This man who now stood before the most influential people of his time and declared unequivocally that they had crucified Christ and that the lame man was healed by His name had denied Christ no less than three times months prior.

The source of their boldness was twofold. First, the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit that they’d received in the upper room, and second, they’d sanctified the Lord God in their hearts, and would no longer be swayed by any external forces.

Acts 4:15-17, “But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.’”

Even though it was evident that a notable miracle had been done, and they could not deny it, not one of them desired to know the truth of it. Jesus, it turns out, was right again, and some people will not be persuaded even if someone was raised from the dead.

In the aggregate, it would be difficult to envision someone seeing another come back from the dead and not be moved to repentance, but here were men, admittedly religious, who’d just witnessed a bonafide miracle done to a man known to have been born lame from birth, and they were not moved. Their only concern was covering it up and preventing it from spreading any further among the people.

The gravy train must keep chugging forward, the biscuit wheels must remain on the track, and if they had to severely threaten men whom they knew to be innocent in order to achieve their goal, so be it.

One would think we’ve grown past such things, but the selfsame self-serving actions are being undertaken today in many churches, ministries, and denominations the world over. Men will ignore egregious sin in the lives of figureheads just to protect the brand, and anyone who would call it out is summarily ostracized and cast out. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Preparing For Persecution XI

 Hindsight and context are two powerful tools that we can use to better understand the Word of God. The interconnectedness of Scripture is one of those things even the rational among the godless have a difficult time explaining away because for there to be some sixty-five thousand cross-references throughout sixty-six books written over four thousand years is something only a supercomputer can accomplish, and that with great difficulty.

The fingerprints of God are evident throughout Scripture for anyone willing to look and see. But once you’ve seen, once you’ve looked and honestly assessed that there is something beyond mere chance to the universe, then comes the reckoning, where the individual must determine what they do with this newfound knowledge. It’s because men want to avoid the reckoning that they refuse to look and see.

Given what happened to Peter and John in the book of Acts, it lends greater gravitas to the words Peter wrote in his first epistle. Looking back on his lived experience, we realize he wasn’t speaking out of turn or being hyperbolic to make himself look good but that he’d gone through the testing and had seen the presence and power of God in the midst of it.

While ‘those who can’t do teach’ is an apropos mantra for college professors and dating coaches, there’s no substitute for lived experience. Between someone who can recite the theory of flight and someone who’s actually piloted a plane, I’ll listen to the guy who had his hand on the yoke and felt the excitement of being in a metal tube soaring above the clouds and landing it safely afterward.

Between someone who can tell you what it may be like to take a beating for the sake of Christ and someone who removes their shirt to show the scars of the experience, it’s the man with the scars that I will lend my ear to ten out of ten times.

Not to go off-topic, but I take personal offense when some pampered, coddled, drug-addled cat mom wearing the net worth of the congregation they’re looking down their nose at in jewelry starts to bloviate about how they’re suffering because they haven’t unlocked the storehouse of prosperity. To this day, there are men who bled, suffered, sacrificed, and endured among us, living simple lives of obedience and faithfulness, whose stories will never be told because they didn’t go through the experience so they could get a book deal on the back end, but because it was their duty to remain steadfast and committed to the way of Christ.

Rather than seek such men out, the modern-day church is enamored with stories of pet dinosaurs in heaven and how some clown is claiming that God used a port-a-potty to teleport her to heaven. If this is the peak of spiritual maturity in the West, I dare say the coming persecution will devastate what we’ve come to call the church to a level we dare not imagine. Will there be a remnant who will endure? Yes, most definitely. Will that remnant be smaller than most think? Most assuredly.

1 Peter 3:13-17, “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

Everything Peter wrote was not theoretical. He’d lived it. He’d suffered for doing good, he’d given a defense to those who asked a reason for the hope that was in him, he’d been slandered as an evildoer, and his good conduct had been reviled. None of these things came as a surprise to him because he’d walked with Jesus and had heard His words regarding the way the world would view those who followed Him, as well as how the religious elites of the time would react to seeing those of Christ walking in power and authority.

By the time he wrote his epistle, Peter had already seen all that Jesus foretold regarding suffering for His name’s sake come to pass and, with the benefit of hindsight, concluded that the most important thing one can do to endure faithfully was to sanctify the Lord in one's heart. To sanctify something is to consecrate it, to set it apart, to make it the pinnacle of your focus, attention, desire, and purpose, with everything else in life becoming a distant second. When Jesus is your all in all, you will be able to endure whatever the world throws at you, whether it’s hatred, derision, or outright persecution. If He’s not your everything, then whatever is competing for preeminence in your heart will be used against you when the time comes.

It’s easy for the enemy to whisper in someone’s ear that they can have the next best thing without having to endure pain if the Lord is not sanctified in their heart. If we allow for the possibility that something is approaching equal value with Jesus, then it becomes an issue of tradeoff. If only Jesus would satisfy us, if He alone is our portion, then though the world’s treasure would be laid at our feet, we would still cling to Him, for His presence in our lives would be priceless.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, April 15, 2024

Preparing For Persecution X

 There was a good twenty years during the Communist rule of Romania where anyone who turned in an individual suspected of being a believer would get extra food rations as a reward. It may not seem like much to us today since, for the most part, a fully stocked grocery store is a few minutes drive away, but back in the day, the shelves of every store were bare, and all you had was what the government gave you as far as foodstuffs were concerned.

Those living in the country and the villages had an easier time because they could raise chickens, goats, pigs, or cows, plant some vegetables, or have a couple of fruit trees on their property, but even they had to count on the system for things such as flour, sugar, oil, and other essentials for survival.

There was no shortage of people being turned in to the secret police for an extra ration of sugar or oil, many by their kin, by wives, husbands, daughters, and sons, and though those individuals were only supposed to be called in for questioning, if they remained faithful to Jesus, and did not deny their faith, being put to death was not outside the realm of possibility. When you get sent to a work camp where the survival rate is less than half, you could say you were being put to death at least half the time.

People keep talking about the guillotine as though it were the pinnacle of suffering, but there are far worse ways to go than by beheading. There are countless souls whose names we will never know who endured to the end, being slowly starved out of existence, beaten, tortured, and abused in ways few of us can imagine. We may never know their names, but God does, and one day, they will receive their martyr’s crown as is fitting.

Just because we have it easy doesn’t mean everyone else does, nor does it mean that we will have it easy in perpetuity. There is such an animus being fomented against the children of God currently that those turning you in won’t need any incentive than to be rid of you to go and report your anti-social activities. How dare you not stand on the street waving a rainbow flag while perverts and pederasts perform lewd acts in public? How dare you try to avert your children’s gaze when grown adults are walking other adults on leashes naked as the day they were born? There’s got to be something wrong with you. Why don’t you want to be loving and inclusive?

If you don’t participate in the experiment, you are automatically against it. There is no neutral party, no conscientious observer, not with something so important. Pick a side, and you better pick the right one; otherwise, you’ll suffer the consequences of your actions. What is the new narrative? Free speech is free, but it’s not consequence-free. You can say whatever you want, but if you say the wrong thing, we’ll take away your bank account, your platforms, your voice, and sooner than some might think, your freedom and your life. Don’t say no one ever warned you because I just did. Do with it what you will!

The sad reality is that most of the church has been cowed and brought to heel even before the persecution has started. The holdouts will now become the target, with the aid of those who name the name of Jesus but are not of Him, and your persecution will be justified because you will be demonized, ostracized, and branded an enemy of the common good.

If we have to prune the tree of a few bad apples, it would be criminal not to, wouldn’t it? Even though the bad apples, the instigators, the troublemakers they’ll be referring to are little old ladies who just want to be left alone, the narrative will be spun in such a way that you’d think that arthritic octogenarian was a blood-thirsty psychopath.

We can’t have you disrupting the indoctrination of the masses with common sense and reason. That just won’t do! Little Billy is a poodle because he says he is. Look at the little darling; he’s even trying to lick himself clean and everything. How dare you, you unfeeling, uncaring, intolerant monster?

Before you think it could never come to that, I would ask that you look back and see how far we’ve come in the last decade. That should put a hitch in your giddy-up. Understand that evil doesn’t have an end in mind. It devours, corrupts, and destroys until there is nothing left to devour, corrupt, or destroy. There is no end in sight to the depravity, and anyone who believes otherwise is fooling themselves.

We’ve already seen the test runs, and they seem promising. Generally speaking, for the most part, people will do what they’re told by perceived authority, even if what they’re told to do makes no rational sense. Shrink wrap grandma’s head so she doesn’t cough on you, stand six feet apart because seven feet is one foot too far, become a shut-in, and have no contact with the outside world. Churches are a danger zone, but liquor stores and weed shops are as safe as a mother’s bosom. Need I go on? And people obeyed; they submitted, and anyone who questioned any of the lunacy was summarily ostracized.

During the peak of the craziness, I told the ministry staff that I would agree to go and speak in any church, anywhere, that asked for me to come and that was still holding live services. It would be on my own dime, and although I never do, I would not require an offering or anything of the sort. There was one church in Michigan that asked for me to come and speak, and I did it gladly because I have the utmost respect for Shepherds who shepherd not only when life is good, and the sun is shining but when times get hard and the threat of reprimand for doing good looms large. Yes, there were others who defied ordinances and rules created from whole cloth by petty tyrants, and they proved their mettle by doing so.

At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, I would wager that every one of those pastors and churches who kept their doors open and did not obey without question are on a list somewhere for the next time an existential planetary threat that has now been declared no more dangerous than the common flu arises. After all, you must beta-test a program before going live and work out the bugs along the way. What was pales compared to what will be, and those who folded once will likely fold again.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.