Archive for April, 2016

e world The Apocalypse (end of times) speaks powerfully of trouble ahead with storm warnings that carry a booming jolt of truth. The warning is clear: prepare to meet thy God…” ~ Billy Graham ~

I had a dream recently.  The world was at peace.  No wars.  No division.  Everyone had learned to love and respect one another.  It was euphoric.  But when I awoke and switched on the morning news…  So much for that delusion.

Have you ever heard of the Institute for Economics and Peace?   The IEP describes itself as “an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.”

A “a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being?”  Really?  So how’s the world doing?

According to a recent annual study released by the IEP, out of roughly 162 countries that they track, less than a dozen were not involved in some form of open conflict. And, many of those “less conflicted” nations face problems that could lead to struggles at some future time according to the IEP report.

With increasing terrorist activity around the world, the perennial conflicts in the Gaza, Syria, Iran and Iraq, civil combativeness in the Ukraine, the continual violence in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sometimes it can appear like the whole world is one homogeneous combat zone.

In reality, if you dream of a land flowing with milk and honey, where peace, harmony and goodwill toward men can be found, your chances of finding such a Shangri-La here on spaceship earth are slim to none. Sorry John Lennon, people don’t seem to have a burning desire to give peace a chance.

Now add to all of this conflict the ever increasing threat of worsening global economic instabilities, toss in a few natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and…, well, is it any wonder that many believe things are only going to get worse from here? Like it or not, humanity will never achieve the utopian vision of a worldwide peace.

We are not at peace with others, because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves, because we are not at peace with God.” ~ Thomas Merton

It’s not like mankind has not been warned of this inexorable dilemma in advance. A man known simply as Jesus of Nazareth spoke to a large gathering of people assembled on a hillside in ancient Israel nearly 2000 years ago:

3-14 “And as he was sitting on the slope of the Mount of Olives his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will this happen? What will be the signal for your coming and the end of this world?”  Be careful that no one misleads you,” said Jesus, “for many men will come in my name saying ‘I am Christ’, and they will mislead many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars—but don’t be alarmed. Such things must indeed happen, but that is not the end. For one nation will rise in arms against another, and one kingdom against another, and there will be famines and earthquakes in different parts of the world. But all that is only the beginning of the birth-pangs. For then comes the time when men will hand you over to persecution, and kill you. And all nations will hate you because you bear my name. Then comes the time when many will lose their faith, and will betray and hate each other. Oh yes, and many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many people. Because of the spread of wickedness the love of most men will grow cold, though the man who holds out to the end will be saved. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed to men all over the world as a witness to all the nations, and then end will come.” (Matthew 24:3-14 – Phillips)

I have always been intrigued by the way that Jesus did not answer the questions of “when” specific events that he spoke of would occur.  He seems to leave that purposely uncertain. Instead, He shifts the focus from the speculative to the practical, warning them to watch out for false teachers. Jesus said that they were to be continually on the lookout because many false liberators will come in my name claiming to be the savior of humanity; they will misinform a lot of people.

Next he spoke of persistent conflicts. Mankind has continued to engage in warfare since the day when Jesus first delivered this Olivet discourse. The regularity of global hostilities should not unduly alarm us because warfare alone is not indicative of the end of the world. Jesus wanted his followers to understand that a proliferation of false liberators, conflict in many forms, global famines and earthquakes, are simply the “beginning of the birth pangs” (also called the beginning of sorrows in Matthew 24:8).

Jesus used the term birth pangs to personify an unspecified period of time when global distresses and sufferings increase exponentially. Think of a woman who is in labor and about to give birth to her child. She will have a painful contraction which will then diminish. But soon another contraction begins, followed by many more which increase in both frequency and intensity. This can continue for a long time. The process doesn’t end until the baby is born.  Jesus employed this analogy to describe end time events in the years, months and weeks leading up to His second visit to planet Earth.

Jesus went on to warn of the coming war on Christianity, culminating in a worldwide hatred of anyone who says “I am a Christian”. He said that this will cause numerous believers to misplace their faith and even betray and hate each other (the great apostasy). The vacuum created by the loss of the Judeo-Christian influence in society will accelerate the rise of false prophets who will continue to spread their strong delusional “new age” message. Thus, wickedness will proliferate and the love of countless men and women will grow emotionless and unsympathetic.

I know what you’re thinking, “Thanks for all the encouragement here, brother.”  What can I say? It’s all the truth. But, Jesus did offer a word of comfort. He said that every believer who hold on to their faith until the very end will be saved!  So, you hang in there baby!

In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.” ~ Fernando Sabino

There are many references in the Bible which point to the eventual demise of mankind to be followed by various judgements and finally a genuine “New World Order.” Here are just two which describe life on spaceship earth just before the end:

26-36“In the time of the coming of the Son of Man, life will be as it was in the days of Noah. People ate and drank, married and were given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah entered the ark—and then came the flood and destroyed them all. It will be just the same as it was in the days of Lot. People ate and drank, bought and sold, planted and built, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. That is how it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17: 26-30 – NLT)

2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 – Phillips)

As sure as the sun rise appears in the eastern sky, the end of this age (the world as we now know it) will eventually come. If you happen to be one of my agnostic, apathetic, apostate or otherwise dazed and confused readers who are having a hard time grasping all of this; just keep observing the daily newscasts. Why?  Because every headline is a warning from God – the end of time is drawing near.  If, on the other hand, you are a genuine follower of the Liberator Jesus, then your mission remains the same;

15And then Jesus told them, “You are to go into the entire world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. 16 Those that believe you and are baptized will be saved. But those who refuse to believe what you tell them will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

Why is this mandate to share the message of forgiveness and liberation even more critical today? Because it appears that we may indeed be witnessing the prelude to the end of the age of man.

The Liberator Jesus stepped out from eternity into what we call time to rescue a lost people stranded on a doomed planet. He told of how the creator of all things (God) offers to transform our renegade existence into one of freedom, peace and joy. Eventually he left the earth. But His spirit remains here with us to this day. And when all is said and done, he’ll be back to give us a free ride to a new home.

I am not a Christian because God changed my life; I am a Christian because of my convictions about who Jesus Christ really is.” ~ Josh McDowell

By the way, anticipating the end of the world is not all that dreadful if you are a follower of the Liberator Jesus.  Humanity lacks the true knowledge of how to bring peace to the world. That is why the Creator Himself will return to this doomed planet.  He will establish himself as the supreme leader of mankind, and act swiftly to put down all rebellion against His rule. The return of the Liberator is when this world will finally know genuine, everlasting PEACE!  Until then, believers can enjoy the inner peace that God has put into our human spirit by our faith.

If you do not believe this, a final word of warning – not from me – from the Spirit of the Almighty who made us:

12 “What sorrow awaits you who build cities with money gained through murder and corruption!  13 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has promised that the wealth of the nations will turn to ashes.  You work so hard, but it is all in vain!  14 For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.”  (Habakkuk 2:12-14)

On the other hand, if you are a disciple of the Liberator Jesus, never lose sight of what He said that day on the Mount of Olives,

14 “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nation will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14 – NLT)

Got it? Great! Now get busy… go holler the good news – from the mountains… to the prairies… to the oceans white with foam, and to the uttermost parts of spaceship earth!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask for no more out of life.”  ― Henry Fielding ―

I would like to tell you an inspirational story that I heard many years ago.  The main characters are a successful, well-educated, somewhat self-centered American investment banker and a simple village fisherman.  This little story helped me to decide that it was time to slow down, reevaluate my priorities, and live my life with joy – no matter what the circumstances.  This is a tale of a life well lived.

One day a well-to-do businessman was on vacation in a small coastal Mexican village.  He was standing at the pier about mid-day when a little boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The businessman complimented the fisherman on the quality of his catch.

“How long did it take you to hook them?” The businessman asked.

“Only a little while.” The fisherman replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The businessman then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs and some extra to share with my friends.” The fisherman said.

The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman said, “I sleep late when I want too, fish a little when I need too, play with my children, take a daily siesta with my beautiful wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip some wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a very full and busy life, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “Busy life? I am a Harvard MBA”, he said, “and I could really help you”.

To which the fisherman replied, “Help me señor”?

“Yes, help you”, snapped the businessman.  “First, you should spend much more of your time fishing so that you can sell all the fish you do not need.  With the excess profits you can buy a much bigger boat. With the increased earnings from the bigger boat you could then buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the fish processors and eventually open your own cannery. You would then control the product, processing and distribution. Of course, you would eventually need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move first to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The fisherman then asked, “But señor, how long will all of this take?”

To which the businessman replied, “About 15-20 years of long hours and hard work, stress and sacrifice.”

The fisherman then asked, “But what then, señor?”

The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions of dollars.”

“Millions of dollars, señor? Then what?”  Said the fisherman.

The businessman replied, “Then you would gather up all of your money and retire!”

“Retire señor? And what would I do when I retire?” Asked the fisherman with a smile.

The business man exclaimed, “Enjoy your life, man! You will move to a small coastal fishing village where you would get to sleep late, leisurely fish for a little while each day, play with your grand-kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip fine wine and play your guitar with all your amigos.”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “But señor, I already have this life. That is what I’m doing right now.”

And that’s when the businessman’s voice grew silent.

– Author Unknown –

Over the many years since I first read this inspiring text, I have stumbled upon many variations of the story. Most versions feature a lone fisherman who lives in a tranquil little village. He owns a small boat (his business) and enjoys a simple life. In short, he personifies a life well lived.

The fisherman has a definite understanding of what it means to be content. He doesn’t see the simple life as unrewarding or insignificant. On the contrary, he explains to the success driven businessman, “I have a very full and busy life.” And he defines his view of “full and busy” like this,

“I sleep late when I want too, fish a little when I need too, play with my children, take a daily siesta with my beautiful wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip some wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a very full and busy life, señor.”

Idealism? For sure. But very instructive. You see, the fisherman’s satisfaction appears to flow from living a balanced life. He works to meet his needs but he also values his relationships and cherishes his commitment to family, friends and community.

My main job is to live with deep contentment, joy, and confidence in my everyday experience of life with God. Everything else is job number two.” ― John Ortberg

In contrast, the businessman seems wise in his own conceit. “I am a Harvard MBA”, he boasts, “I can help you”. Mr. Overdrive appears to be motivated by a desire to accumulate wealth. Ironically, the goal of his empire building mindset is to secure for some future time what the fisherman already enjoyed—a simple and relaxed life. In his blind arrogance he seems to have forgotten that God alone owns the future. It reminds me of a story in the Newer Testament that Jesus shared.

15 …Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.

16-19Then he told them this story: The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: “What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.” Then he said, “Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself – you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. I’ll take it easy and have the time of my life!”

20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barn full of goods—who gets it?’ 21 That’s what happens when you fill your barn with self and not with God. (Luke 12:15-21 MSG)

In this parable we are introduced to a rich farmer who thought he had it made. He was very successful. In his way of looking at life, it was time to kick back, relax, and have the time of his life!  Not so fast. God showed up and called the man a fool. “Tonight you die.” He said.  “And your barn full of goods—who gets it?”

You see, the present is all we really have. Just think about the people who will die unexpectedly today. In spite of all of their plans, wealth, success, etc., etc., they no longer have a future here on spaceship earth. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow – no one!

Please do not misunderstand the purpose of my discourse today. Wise planning is good. Hard work is virtuous and necessary in this lifetime. Success can be a wonderful experience. Money isn’t necessarily bad either (it’s the love of money that is at the root of evil – not the money). But, when we become so future-oriented and success driven that we lose sight of living in the moment, life begins to lose significance.  That’s what happens when your life is mostly about self-interests without attentiveness to the things that please our Creator.

It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want. I got everything I need and nothing that I don’t” – Zac Brown Band

I’m not suggesting that we should all run off to a small coastal fishing village and live slow, simple lives (although, personally, I sometimes find the thought of doing so to be very appealing). We should, however, learn to be content in the life that we have right now – even if our present state of affairs are sometimes less than desirable. One of the Newer Testament writers, Paul, put it like this,

11b-13I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. (Philippians 4:10-13 – PHILLIPS)

Did he say contentment no matter what the circumstance? Yes, he did. Good days or bad days. Highs or lows. Happy or sad. Contentment is the key to a life well lived. Our friend Paul learned this lesson well. In another Newer Testament letter he told his friend Timothy,

6-8There is a real profit, of course, but it comes only to those who live contentedly as God would have them live. We brought absolutely nothing with us when we entered the world and we can be sure we shall take absolutely nothing with us when we leave it. Surely then, as far as physical things are concerned, it is sufficient for us to keep our bodies fed and clothed.

9-10For men who set their hearts on being wealthy expose themselves to temptation. They fall into one of the world’s traps, and lay themselves open to all sorts of silly and wicked desires, which are quite capable of utterly ruining and destroying their souls. For loving money leads to all kinds of evil, and some men in the struggle to be rich have lost their faith and caused themselves untold agonies of mind.

11-12But you, the man of God, keep clear of such things. Set your heart not on riches, but on goodness, Christ-likeness, faith, love, patience and humility. Fight the worthwhile battle of the faith, keep your grip on that life eternal to which you have been called, and to which you boldly professed your loyalty before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:6-12 – PHILLIPS)

Paul understood that a wealth driven success model does not lead to contentment. It is not wrong to be rich. A desire to succeed in our endeavors and better our material position in the world is not inherently evil. But extreme caution is advised as material success often leads to greed. It is always a mistake to place our trust in the uncertainty of riches (1 Timothy 6:17).

You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”   ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

So my friends, what do say we all chill out? Slow down. Smell those proverbial flowers. I don’t care how you say it – JUST DO IT!  Learn to be content with the knowledge that God knows exactly what is best for each of us and He has promised to provide whatever we need from His vast resources (Philippians 4:19).

Got it?  Excellent.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a small fishing boat to clean and later a few friends will be waiting for me in Tarpon Springs… and…

Okay, maybe not.

But, I am content!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
It is possible to be highly educated and at the same time morally depraved.  There is, in fact, a certain kind of moral depravity that only the highly educated can attain, because it requires sophisticated skills of rationalization and self-deception.”  ― Iain W. Proven ―

Human depravity has been a subject of debate among philosophers and theologians ever since…well…ever since two of them wound up in the same room together in a conversation. In the simplest of terms, the basis of their doctrinal disagreements rest upon this question: Are people basically good or bad? Stay tuned kiddies – among these doctors of dogma, who populate philosophical ivory towers, the debate continues…

Meanwhile, on the streets of modern Sodom (where we live) with its pervasive humanistic “new age” culture, there is this generally accepted assumption that people are essentially good. Of course it is allowable to admit that “no one is perfect”. After all, it is only human to “err.” Sure, there are some really bad people who exhibit very “evil” tendencies but in spite of all the wickedness in the world, there is a “basic goodness” in every human life. In other words, evil does not penetrate to the core of the human spirit.  We are all capable of “self-improvements” and “higher planes of consciousness.”  This will lead to our greater goodness.

My theological term for these widely held beliefs is: Bovine Poopie

The Bible (perhaps the best book ever written on human nature) teaches that mankind is depraved (or corrupt) to the very core of our existence. Wickedness affects our mind, and our soul (will & emotions); even our physical body can suffer the consequences of human immorality.  By nature, every man, woman and child is predisposed to depravity.

While Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Saddam Hussein, Jeffery Dahmer, Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy, are all extreme examples of unbridled human depravity, racial and ethnic tensions, riots and looting in our streets, rape and murder in our communities, drug and alcohol addictions, sexual perverts, lying and cheating politicians, and corrupt and immoral clergy are also rooted in the human depravity problem.

Does this mean that humanity is incapable of producing good people? No, it does not. The capacity to do something virtuous and the condition of a depraved inner being (the human spirit) are two entirely different things.  Mankind is certainly capable of decent behavior, good deeds, and even outwardly upholding some portion of the “Divine Law”.  Nevertheless, we are all born with a flawed (depraved) human nature that can never meet the standard necessary to be truly pleasing to the faultless and Divine Creator of human life.  Depravity is first a spiritual problem.

The Biblical writer Paul put it this way in the Newer Testament of the Bible:

10 “As the Scriptures say, No one is good—no one in all the world is innocent. 11 No one has ever really followed God’s paths or even truly wanted to. 12 Every one has turned away; all have gone wrong. No one anywhere has kept on doing what is right; not one.” (Romans 3:10-12 – Living Bible)

Mankind has been weighed in the balance scales of a perfect God and we are all found malevolent. We are the walking dead – in trespasses and depravities (Ephesians 2:1); and our very nature predestines us to be the children of (God’s) wrath. (Ephesians 2:3). For my theologically minded friends, this is also known as the condition of spiritual death. Depravity goes part and parcel with human nature. We are all born with a “spiritual gene” that makes us bad to the bone.

I know what you’re thinking; “compared to some, I am a good person.” I understand.  You’ve never killed anyone. You consider yourself to be kind and compassionate. “Live and let live”, that’s your motto.  I believe you.  That was my mindset heretofore as well.  But, human depravity is not relative – it is absolute. Your behavior is irrelevant. Even one evil thought; one malignant intention, – acted upon or not – is proof of corruption’s seed in your very nature. 23 “Yes, all have transgressed; all have fallen short of God’s perfect ideal.” (Romans 3:23)

We lived depravity and called it truth, silencing our dreaming, and our love, discarding things holy.”  ― John Daniel Thieme

Charles H. Spurgeon was a gifted orator and prolific author. His sermons were said to hold his listeners spellbound at the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London where he was the Pastor for 38 years. He was also known for his outspoken opposition to the open-minded and matter-of-fact theological tendencies in the Church of his day. (Hello?) Here is an excerpt from one of his great discourses:

“There are some professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration; but, from my inmost heart, I loathe such speeches more and more every day that I live. Those who talk in such a boastful fashion must be constituted very differently from me. While they are congratulating themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ’s Cross, and marvel that I am saved at all, for I know that I am saved. I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all—to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all—to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all considering what a polluted debased, depraved nature I find still within my soul, notwithstanding all that divine grace has done in me.”

“In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. Some Christians never seem to find this out. I almost wish that they might not do so, for it is a painful discovery for anyone to make; but it has the beneficial effect of making us cease from trusting in ourselves, and causing us to glory only in the Lord.”  – Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)

Spurgeon did not mince words when it came to his disdain for self-centered Christianity or as he put it, “professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration.

Far from being smug, Charles marveled at the wonder of his own rescue from depravity. I like his contrasts:

  • I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all
  • I have to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all
  • I have to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all

Me too, Charles, me too. Spurgeon laments that, “In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. “Some Christians never seem”, he said “to find this out”.  My God, my God, how true.  Could we all let that sink in for a moment? From the gutter-most to the uttermost – we are all depraved.

True gospel preaching always changes the heart. It either awakens it or hardens it.” ― Chan Kilgore

For me, life has been salted with generous amounts of affirmation (sometimes admiration) and peppered with many a flattering word.  I have regularly experienced the milk of human kindness.  To be honest, I’ve really enjoyed it.  Who wouldn’t?   But the longer I live, the more necessary I find it to explore the ugliness of my own depravity. I recognize the treachery in my heart (human nature) and my propensity for mischief. The duplicity inside of me exposes not only my appetite for self-indulgence but my ability to excuse it. Openly acknowledging that I will always struggle with this sin-nature is liberating. It reminds me that I am at the mercy of my Liberator (Jesus) every day and it makes me grateful for the grace that Almighty God has shown to me.

The Newer Testament writer Paul understood this very well. He said,

12-16 I am deeply grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ (to whom I owe all that I have accomplished) for trusting me enough to appoint me his minister, despite the fact that I had previously blasphemed his name, persecuted his Church and damaged his cause. I believe he was merciful to me because what I did was done in the ignorance of a man without faith, and then he poured out his grace upon me, giving me tremendous faith in, and love for, himself. This statement is completely reliable and should be universally accepted:—“Christ Jesus entered the world to rescue sinners”. I realize that I was the worst of them all, and that because of this very fact God was particularly merciful to me. It was a kind of demonstration of the extent of Christ’s patience towards the worst of men; to serve as an example to all whom in the future should trust him for eternal life”. (1 Timothy 1:12-16 – Phillips)

How is that for transparency? Here is the author of over half of the New Testament letters admitting that he looks at himself as being among the worst of men. He attributes his reformation to the mercy, grace, faith and love of God. In essence Paul says that the Liberator Jesus entered this world to rescue bad people like him. Where does that leave us? At best, we are all bad people in need of reclamation.

Paul also observed that it is human nature to know what is right and yet still do what is wrong.

21-25 “When I come up against the Law I want to do what is good, but in practice I do evil. My conscious mind whole-heartedly endorses the Law, yet I observe an entirely different principle at work in my nature. This is in continual conflict with my conscious attitude, and makes me an unwilling prisoner to the law of sin and death. In my mind I am God’s willing servant, but in my own nature I am bound fast, as I say, to the law of sin and death. It is an agonizing situation, and who on earth can set me free from the clutches of my sinful nature? I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord”.   (Romans 7:21-25 –Phillips)

In this never ending tug of war between right and wrong within us, here’s the million dollar question: who or what on this earth can set me free from the control of my corrupt (depraved) nature?  Can Religion?  Not a chance.  A popular preacher?  Sorry.  Self-help gurus?  Please. The Government?  Yea right, I know you’re not that stupid.  Freedom at the very core level of our human nature comes only through the Liberator Jesus who said that He alone was the way, the truth, and the life.  Listen to what the Newer Testament writer Peter said,

3-4 He gives us everything we need for life and for holy living. He gives it through His great power. As we come to know Him better, we learn that He called us to share His own shining-greatness and perfect life. Through His shining-greatness and perfect life, He has given us promises. These promises are of great worth and no amount of money can buy them. Through these promises you can have God’s own life in you now that you have gotten away from the sinful things of the world which came from wrong desires of the flesh (corrupt human nature). (2 Peter 1:3-4 – NLV)

Herein rests the key: only when we share in the perfect nature of our Creator (his Spirit living within us) through our surrender to and trust in the Liberator Jesus can we experience true freedom.  This is how we escape the depravity of our fallen nature and the corruption that is at work in this world.

On his brief visit to the earth, Jesus offered liberty to all who would choose to follow him. Without that freedom, we are merely drifting toward the rocks of inevitable destruction. Jesus is still reaching out to us pathetic humans. Today he is extending a great opportunity to you. Call it a gift of hope.

Hope? That’s right. According to the scriptures, HOPE is the anchor of the human soul, fixed in the very certainty of the promises that Jesus made to all who believe in him. Promises like this one:

“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away (from the earth) to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming back again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know the road I am going to take.” (John 14-1-4)

Now, remember, that same Jesus who said that He is the way, the truth and the life, also said that He is the road (pathway) that we must follow!

Can anyone say ROAD TRIP?  Let’s get going!!!

Great God of this universe, you alone know us for who we really are. Your great love for mankind was demonstrated when you sent the Liberator Jesus to implement your plan of rescue for the lost human population of this slowly dying planet. Please help my friends who seek a better way to be drawn to the hope that you offer today – the Liberator Jesus – one way, one truth, one life. I ask this in his name. Amen

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
If God doesn’t soon bring judgment upon America, He’ll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” – Ruth Graham 

It seems to me dear reader that, to borrow a phrase from Bob Dylan, “Times they are a changing”.  But, many of the cultural shifts may not necessarily be for the better.  Now, I’m not one of those people who whine about how much we’ve lost since “the good old days.”  No sir, every generation has faced difficulties, struggles and uncertainties.  Still, something is very different in this most disturbing hour here on Spaceship earth.  Our societies are devolving at an accelerated pace and becoming what the Biblical writers would call “a wicked and perverse generation” controlled by “a brood of vipers.”

You doubt me?  Let’s talk.

In the USA, we kill thousands of tiny preborn human beings every day with impunity; giving no regard to their right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   If you dare question this practice you are usually met by a screaming horde of feminists and assorted liberal whines that defend the practice under the ruse of “choice” and “freedom over my body.”

And what about all of this gender confusion.  Not sure if you’re a boy or a girl?  Maybe you should enroll in an anatomy class.  Frankly, young man, I do not care what sex you “identify” with today, you do not belong in a restroom with my daughter.  Transgender rights?  You can label it anything you like.  I’m sticking with the old word – perversion.  What ever happened to the societal practice of passing sound judgment upon the goodness or badness of human action and character (i.e.: moral scrutiny)?  I guess that responsibility was usurped by freaks and the lunatic fringe after we started deportation proceedings against Almighty God and began electing valueless and spineless politicians to rule our land (with a few notable exceptions, of course).

Children are murdering their parents and one another.  In some cities, law and order is despised. Racism is the new catchphrase to justify certain antisocial and criminal behaviors.  Wicked and perverse practices are now deemed acceptable while Christians are routinely abused, smeared and in some cases utterly reviled – right here in the USA.  Need I go on?

Ladies and Gentleman:  Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah.

He that becomes protector of evil shall surely become its prisoner.” ― Augustine of Hippo

Why the correlation to these extinct Biblical metropoleis? That’s a fair question. Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with unrepentant social depravity. They also represent the outcome of such societies – sudden collapse and destruction.

The Bible’s Newer Testament writer Peter once made this cogent observation:

5“And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment” – 2 Peter 2:5-9 – NLT

Referenced in this ancient text is a man called Lot. He was a righteous person living in a wicked city. The relentless depravity he experienced as a citizen of Sodom really stressed him out. I can commiserate. There are no shortages of “spiritual and social agonies” in my neck of the woods either. But truthfully, I also find it rather exciting to be alive at this moment in time. The decline and fall of a civilization doesn’t happen every day and, here we are with front row seats!

Some of my friends and colleagues get a bit irritated with me because I am not perpetually foaming at the mouth over the condition of the world. To what end? The world is what it is. I do pray for my nation regularly, but I have also read the back of the book (Bible). Depravity and the eventual decline and collapse of humanity has been predicted for thousands of years. My perpetual anxiety over the condition of the fallen human race would fix nothing. Instead, the constant irritation would just steal my joy and depress me.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr

Of course, I take the dictates of my Christian faith as serious as a heart attack. I am not ashamed to speak the truth that I have learned from the scriptures whenever possible and prudent. If you are a regular reader, you already know that. Swimming against the tide of popular culture has become for me an Olympic sport. But, like Noah, I am also quietly preparing my ark and waiting for the dreadful storm to begin.

The Liberator Jesus also made reference to the times of Noah on his visit to the earth. Here is what he said,

37“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man, comes.” – Matthew 24:37-39

As in the days of Noah, the warning signs are everywhere today but people simply refuse to believe them. The “preachers of righteousness” are routinely mocked, scorned, despised and rejected. It’s a “new awakening”.  Out with the old ways; welcome the new world order and (soon) a one world government.  Such an amazing deception as the rank and file of our society slowly succumbs to an unquestioned belief in a “new age” philosophy.  In so doing, the propaganda of an anti-Christ whose spirit has long been at work in the world continues to spread.   This too was predicted nearly 2000 years go in the ancient scriptures:

1, 3-4 “… And now, what about the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ? …For that day will not come until two things happen: first, there will be a time of great rebellion against God, and then the man of rebellion himself will come—the son of hell. He will defy every god there is and tear down every other object of adoration and worship. He will go in and sit as God in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

9-12 …This man of sin will come as Satan’s tool, full of satanic power, and will trick everyone with strange demonstrations, and will do great miracles. 10 He will completely fool those who are on their way to hell because they have said no to the Truth; they have refused to believe it and love it and let it save them, 11 so God will allow them to believe lies with all their hearts, 12 and all of them will be justly judged for believing falsehood, refusing the Truth, and enjoying their sins.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3-4, 9-12

I for one do not really care what happens to this planet as a whole.   This world is not my home; just passing through folks.  My true concern is for the people who are blindly wandering the decks of spaceship earth in search of the true meaning of existence.  The secular education establishment, news media, social media, entertainment industry and liberalized religions are all doing their best to sow the seeds of destruction.  I want to spend my time reaching out to this doomed and dying world with a message about God’s love and His liberating grace toward mankind.

When the Liberator Jesus first visited our earth, He made the scandalous claim that He was the emissary of God.  His mission: liberate the doomed and stranded human race.  Here is something straight from his lips that our politically correct society really hates:   

“I am the Way – yes, and the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father (GOD) except by means of me.” – John 14:6

Yikes – so much for religious diversity.  How insensitive and intolerant.  Jesus was a BIGOT!

I agree. The unvarnished message of the Christian faith is offensive and radical to a lot of people. Perhaps this is why so many of our present-day mainstream denominational churches seem to care little about spreading the real message of the Liberator Jesus.  Churchianity has replaced genuine Christianity in our culture. The power of a simple faith in the Almighty One is now diluted and in some respects made ineffectual by religious traditions.  Some postmodern churches are so busy trying to be culturally relevant that they have become evangelically impotent.

Jesus never asked me to give to an organization the kind of exclusive devotion he demands from his disciples. Over and over, Jesus calls people to himself – out of the church, the culture, the economy, and the family.”Michael Spencer

The Liberator Jesus said “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life” (John 14:6).  How much clearer does his message have to be stated?  He is THE way to God. He delivered THE absolute Truth when he visited earth embodied in human form.  He alone can give passage to THE infinite life beyond this time space continuum to those who put their trust in him.  It baffles me how such a plain and simple statement can be so misrepresented and misunderstood – especially among the supposed Christian population.

It comes down to this: do you want the freedom and the life that only the Creator of all things – your creator – (God) can give to you? Then you must decide if you believe what Jesus said. He made the bold (and to some infuriatingly intolerant) assertion that there is only one pathway to the one true God and he is that pathway.  Like it or not, Jesus alone controls the power to set you free from the grip of your corrupt nature.

Apostate Clergy, Godless governments and the countless New Age gurus are useless when it comes to freeing a doomed human spirit.  There is but one solution to escape condemnation – the Liberator Jesus and the message that He came to share.

1-2 “No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are in Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life in Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.” – Romans 8:2 – J.B. Phillips New Testament –

Here is what I know for sure, God has anchored my drifting heart to Himself through the message and the mission of the Liberator Jesus. He has shown me the way out from under the weight (vicious circle) of man-made religion and its laws.  In the message of Jesus, I have found a new “spiritual principle of life”. I know that my right standing with God results from His love for me – not my good behavior.  I am no longer a prisoner of my fallen nature.  That malevolent side of me is still lurking deep inside but the Holy Spirit (who now lives within me) has control and His power unfettered my once wicked soul.   As long as I continue to walk in harmony with that Holy Spirit within, my wicked nature is kept in check and if I stumble he picks me up and forgives me.  I can do all things because His spirit living within my human spirit empowers me.

Judgement will eventually come to our modern Sodom.  I’m not worried.  Like Lot, I plan to “flee the city” before that great and terrible day of the Lord.  How about you?

14-15 “And if no one will welcome you or even listen to what you have to say, leave that house or town, and once outside it shake off the dust of that place from your feet. Believe me, Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better in the Day of Judgment than that town.” ― Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 10:14-15)

Almighty God, I have many friends who long to know honest, untainted truth. Some have been confused, hurt and angered by the conflicting messages of organized religion. Others struggling with misconception, somehow just got lost. I understand their frustration. I too walked away from you for a season in the prodigal days of my youth.  Please help my friends to see that you are calling them to get to know you. Show them that this is not about joining a religion or embarking on a new church experience. You want a relationship with them.  Thank you for touching their lives somehow, someway. I ask these things in the name of my redeemer – the Liberator Jesus.  Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in fact, logic and argument than others.”  ― Douglas Adams ―

I prefer to deal with facts.  Black and white.  Yes or no.  Good or Evil.  True or false.  Male or Female.  Cold hard facts.  My name is Joe.  I am a male.  I use the men’s room all of the time.  Vive la facts.  Like the fictional detective Sergeant Joe Friday of the old Dragnet television series, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”

There are, of course, those for whom the facts are a troublesome annoyance.  In 1974, then Indiana Congressman Earl Landgrebe famously uttered these words during the Watergate hearings, “Don’t confuse me with facts: I’ve got a closed mind.”  Spoken like a true politician (with a few rare exceptions, of course).  You would think that living in the age of information and social media might just help to put an end to the rampant dispersing of misinformation and half-truths.  Think again.  It has actually exacerbated the problem.

At times, I can’t help but wonder if some people even know what a “fact” is anymore.  Do you?  I didn’t ask what you think a fact is. That would actually be your opinion.  I am not really interested in your opinion right now.  My question to you is, “what is a fact?”  And by the way, the answer is not subjective.  I doesn’t matter how you interpret a “fact”, disagree with a “fact” or deal with a “fact”.  A FACT is a fact.  End of discussion.  Sorry relativists and coddled college students, one man’s fact cannot be another man’s fiction.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “fact” is defined this way:

  • something that truly exists or happens
  • something that has actual existence
  • a true piece of information

A fact can be checked and backed up with evidence.  For instance, in 2012, Barak Husain Obama was elected president of the United States of America for a second time.  It doesn’t matter if you liked this fact or not.  It doesn’t matter if you disputed this fact.  It doesn’t matter if you rejected this fact.  It doesn’t even matter if you refused to accept this fact. It is FACT. It happened.  And you could do nothing to change this mistake, err, I mean circumstance.  It is a cold hard fact.  In fact (tee-hee), we can do a “fact check” by looking at the numerous records which document and validate this particular event.  That is why substantiated facts are usually considered to be reliable and therefore are often used in conjunction with research and study.

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” ― Harlan Ellison

And then there are opinions.  Sometimes an opinion can have validity and therefore carry great weight.  For example, when a judge or court of law renders an “opinion” as to the reasoning and the principles of law used in reaching a case decision. Doctors also refer to certain medical findings as an opinion.  In this instance, the medical expert offers a formal statement of judgment or advice based upon substantiable knowledge and experience.

Nevertheless, most of the every day, run of the mill, random opinions that we all must deal with are usually based on a personal belief or point of view. These opinions are seldom grounded in evidence that can be checked.  In my experience, many (if not most) of the avant-garde opinions that barrage us on any given day are often worthless.  Why?  Because, by definition, an opinion is simply a viewpoint or judgment formed about something that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.  In other words, “show me the facts”.  I like what the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Now here’s the problem: we live in an increasingly opinion energized social order.  Just about everyone seems to have an opinion these days on just about everything in the world and of course, theirs is ALWAYS right.  It has gotten so out of control that our society is now run less by the facts and more by the fiction of endless opinion polls regurgitated ad nausium by the driveling news media.  

From Corporate Boardrooms to the spineless Halls of Government – it’s all about opinions.  God forbid we just simply do what is right.  Don’t confuse us with the facts; let’s just get everyone’s opinion before we make up our minds on how we should proceed.  Truth?  Right and wrong?  That is just too… messy.

To be fair, writers will often mix fact and opinion, and at times it can be difficult to tell whether an article is based on truth that can be checked (facts) or someone’s point of view (opinion).  So, read wisely and do your own homework.  Just because somebody claims that something is factual – doesn’t mean it is true.

The proud wish God would agree with them. They are not interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.” ― Ezra Taft Benson

One more thing.  I often talk about my faith in God and how the Bible is among the most accurate of all the ancient texts – religious or secular.  Is that just my opinion or is it fact?

There are now in excess of 25,000 archaeological findings that validate various scriptural texts.  There are well over 20,000 manuscripts and partial transcripts that corroborate its accuracy.  There are also many extra-biblical writings that confirm the extraordinary life and times of the man we call Jesus.  And remarkably, every prophecy recorded in the scriptures – except for those pertaining to future end time events – have been accurately fulfilled.  I could continue laying out one fact after another, but that is not my purpose here.

Some say that the claims of scripture are just an opinion.  But given the substantiable evidence available, I think not.  The Bible contains within its 66 books things which truly exist and have occurred.  It contains truth that can be checked and backed up with proof.  The Bible is factual and reliable – not just opinionated.  It contains the 10 commandments – not the 10 suggestions. To categorically reject the Bible’s teachings requires a measure of intellectual dishonesty, let alone spiritual blindness.  And that is not my opinion.  That is a cold hard fact, ladies and gentlemen.

And on that note, it is now – in fact – time for me to bid thee farewell.

This is a great article!  (That, by the way, is just my opinion.)

14-17 “Yet you must go on steadily in all those things that you have learned and which you know are true. Remember from what sort of people your knowledge has come, and how from early childhood your mind has been familiar with the Holy Scriptures, which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656