Archive for February, 2014

Have you ever wondered, “What am I doing here?”   It’s OK if you have. Believe me, you’re not alone. Sometimes we struggle with identifying where we “fit” in this great adventure called life. If you are a Christian, the importance of knowing your place in God’s plan for His church and for your individual life is difficult to overstate.

Every true believer is a member of the Body (Church) of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head of that body. Just as the physical human body contains many specific parts, every Christian is a uniquely qualified and gifted member of the body of Christ. The sovereignty of Almighty God determines our position and our function in the church.

“But as it is, God has placed and arranged the limbs and organs in the body, each [particular one] of them, just as He wished and saw fit and with the best adaptation. Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].” – I Corinthians 12:18, 27 Amplified Bible –

Let me share something very therapeutic; you cannot be what God has not called and equipped you to be. It’s really that simple. Serving God is not a matter of selecting a ministry, but rather a matter of identifying your own unique gifting and sharpening those areas in which God has ordained you to serve.

“Are all Apostles (special messengers)? Are all prophets (inspired interpreters of the will and purpose of God)? Are all teachers? Do all have the power of performing miracles? Do all possess extraordinary powers of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”  – 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 Amplified Bible –

The singular answer to these questions is no! If we could function in any calling or operate any spiritual gift at will, we would have no need for one another. As surely as the eyes need the ears, the hands need the arms, and the legs need the feet, the body of Christ needs each of its members working together.

“For because of Him the whole body (the Church in all its various parts) closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:16 Amplified Bible –

When Jesus Christ was physically present on the earth, He had the Holy Spirit without measure. Jesus embodied all the offices of ministry and operated in every spiritual gift.

As individual Christians, we move in the Spirit by measure. No one person occupies every office of ministry nor operates in every spiritual gifting.

It is still possible for the body of Christ to enjoy the manifestation of the Holy Spirit without measure today. To do so we must recognize and accept our own spiritual gifts and calling, recognize and accept the spiritual gifts and calling in other believers, and learn to harmonize with one another by walking in the unity of the faith. Then the Spirit can move without measure and the Church can truly fulfill the great commission.

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

 

“For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

Have you ever experienced a failure that left you afraid to try again?  I have.  We all have.  Somehow the old get up and go just gets up and goes.  Deep inside we remember how badly it hurt.  Why chance a repeat performance?  Isn’t it easier (or is that safer?) to say “I almost made it”, than to face anew life’s more difficult challenges?  Apprehension can paralyze our potential.

One day, (many years ago) I was teaching my son the fine art of catching a baseball in our back yard.  He greeted each successful catch with a broad smile.  His delight brought me great joy.  Of course, he missed a lot too and those near catches evoked his whimsical frown – more like a puckered pout.  My son did not like missing as much as he liked catching.  Who does?  Then it happened.  A high fly bounced off the tip of his glove striking him on the cheekbone.  The impact wasn’t life threatening, but it shook his confidence a bit.  Disappointments seem to have a way of doing that.  I still remember that startled look as he hid his face in the glove and stood motionless on the grass.

“Are you OK?” I yelled, my voice cracking with fatherly concern.  “Yes”, came the weak, unconvincing reply.  And then, with his face still buried in the glove, little Joe began to cry.  So I ran toward him, touched with the feelings of his pain and I held him in my arms.  “It’s all right Joe”, I said, “you tried.”  Mistakes are bad enough, but this one hurt.  He cried for a few moments and drying his tears I said, “Let’s get back to the game.”  Without hesitation he replied, “No thanks”, as he ran off to take up a new, less threatening activity.

Sometimes, in the face of distress, it’s hard to try again.

I’ve been thinking about the Apostle Peter. He tried very hard to be a disciple.  I’m sure he really wanted to please Jesus.  Quite often he would do what he thought was right only to be rebuked.  His overabundance of self-confidence often manifest in the form of foot in mouth disease.

Ever had that?

Hey, it’s OK.  I love you!

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

 

I have always liked gadgets. Machine age contraptions for example, were often an amazing collection of unique parts working together for a single purpose. In this age of technology, we seldom appreciate the inner workings of the devices that we see and use every day. As a result, we fail to understand them for what they really are. Old machines and your favorite smart phone have something in common. They are all a collection of individual components that interact with precision to perform a useful (sometimes even vital) function.

When was the last time you described a device of yours that way? “Say Bill, have you seen my new collection of individual components that interact with precision to perform a useful function?” I don’t think so. It’s more like “have you seen my new smart phone?”

Old machines and modern gadgets remind me of the greatness of Teamwork.

In many sectors of our society, collaboration is all but dead. Hi-tech tools are making it possible for everyone to be an almost expert at just about anything. I suppose it’s an interesting trend from a few perspectives. It’s empowering to be able to do so many things yourself. If you look at it from the management standpoint, well, it’s the best thing since the introduction of the PC. Business owners now reason, “We don’t need all those extra people. One person does the job of three, four or five!”

But, let’s take a good look at that reasoning. I believe that we are all really good at something. Yea, we’re pretty good at a lot of things, but we each have one or two gifts that really shine.

In the last three decades or so, I have worn a lot of hats. I have been a businessman, an author, a Bible teacher, a Pastor, and a school administrator. I have also been a professional broadcaster, audio editor and mix engineer, producer, program and newscast director, and more. As a commentator, I interviewed paupers, kings and everyone in-between. Once, I broadcast live from on top of Masada and the Temple Mount in Israel.

But it seems that no matter how many “roles” I’ve played, I was never truly all alone. There were always other team members there to help me with the job. Even when I stood alone in the spotlight, it was “my team” that made better collectively what I might have hobbled through on my own.

I have been blessed to work with some of the most creative and talented people in the world. In some cases, I knew that I could do their job too. With few exceptions I also knew I couldn’t do it as well. If I had a dime for every time someone made a suggestion that resulted in my own personal growth and improved upon my project, I’d be retired and living in the Caribbean (yes, I’m a closet “Beach Bum”).

When practiced at its highest level, life is a team sport. Every day our society functions because we are a collection of individuals that interact to perform useful (and sometimes vital) functions for the greater good. When the process is right, when collaboration, mutual respect and enthusiasm are in the mix, the results are so much better (and fulfilling) than they can ever be when one person slogs away all alone.

And what about the Church? Is it a coincidence that the Father, Son & Holy Spirit are unique and yet referred to as one? I think not. The New Testament writer Paul (a follower of Jesus) hit the nail on the head when he compared the Christian community to the human body. Listen to what he said:

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.  – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27  New Living Translation –

What could I possibly add to that? Except maybe, Hooray for the team!

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.