Archive for May, 2016

My teaching at this time will be very simple, but I hope it will be highly practical; for my longing is that none of you, that love God, would be reluctant to go fishing for him.”  ― Charles Spurgeon

I’m a coastal junkie.  The sea is in my veins.  Today my writers perch is at Catches Waterfront Grill on Florida’s spectacular gulf coast.  A couple of local boaters have just tied up to pilings and come ashore for lunch.  Me?  I have no boat, but I’m making do with a relaxing view of the Pithlachascotee “Cottee” River as it meanders toward the Gulf of Mexico.  My “desk” (a high top table) is at water’s edge under one of the biggest, tallest, tiki huts in this part of Florida.  Yes indeed, I love life along the shoreline – here in the Sunshine State or almost anywhere in the world.

So, it goes without saying that whenever I have visited Israel, my expedition would always include a boat excursion on the largest body of freshwater in the land of the Book – Yam Kinneret.  This inland “sea” has been called by many different names throughout human history (Gennesaret, Tiberias, Ginosar and Minya), but perhaps it’s best known as the Sea of Galilee.  At roughly 685 feet (209 meters) below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on planet Earth.

In Biblical times there was a fishing village located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee known as Capharnaum.  We learn from the Newer Testament writers that an extraordinary man known simply as Jesus left the village of Nazareth and settled in Capharnaum (Mt 4:12).  It would become His home base and from here He gathered many of His first devotees.  Among them was a fisherman named Simon Barjona (Simon son of Jonah).

The Bible reveals very little about Simon Barjona’s life before he met Jesus.  It appears that he was born in or near Bethsaida (John 1:44), on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, eventually settling a few miles to the west in the Galilean town of Capharnaum where, along with his brother Andrew, he built a fishing partnership with James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10).  Truthfully, it’s not who Simon Barjona was that is of interest to me; it’s who he became.  Let me explain.

Legalism says God will love us if we change. The Gospel says God will change us because He loves us.”  ― Tullian Tchividjian

There was a man living as a recluse in the Jordan River Valley at that time who was called John the Baptist.  He was the last prophet of the Older Testament order, and it is said that he came as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”  He was a man with a message about a coming Liberator.

Simon’s brother Andrew and John (one of his business partners) had become adherents of John the Baptist’s preaching. When their teacher pointed to Jesus one day and proclaimed him to be “the Lamb of God”, Andrew went back to Capharnaum and told Simon, “We have found the Savior” (John 1:41). Andrew then introduced his brother to the Liberator.  Jesus looked at Simon and said: “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall now be called Cephas” (John 1:42).  Cephas is an Aramaic word meaning “stone”.  In Greek the word is Petros, which translates into English as Peter.  Ah, so now you know why we call him Peter.

Jesus would regularly teach people along the Galilean shoreline. Over time, He encountered issues with crowd control.  One day the multitude grew so large that they were literally driving Jesus into the water.  Here is the Newer Testament record of that fateful day,

1-3 One day the people were crowding closely round Jesus to hear God’s message, as he stood on the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Jesus noticed two boats drawn up on the beach, for the fishermen had left them there while they were cleaning their nets. He went aboard one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to push out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and continued his teaching of the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Push out now into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

Simon replied, “Master! We’ve worked all night and never caught a thing, but if you say so, I’ll let the nets down.”

6-8 And when they had done this, they caught an enormous shoal of fish—so big that the nets began to tear. So they signaled to their friends in the other boats to come and help them. They came and filled both the boats to sinking point. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, “Keep away from me, Lord, for I’m only a sinful man!”

9-10 For he and his companions (including Zebedee’s sons, James and John, Simon’s partners) were staggered at the haul of fish that they had made. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid, Simon. From now on your catch will be men.”  (Luke 5:1-10 – Phillips)

First, Jesus engages the services of Simon and his boat so that He could better teach the growing crowds. Remember, they didn’t have PA systems in those days so the water surface would actually help to amplify His voice, making it easier for such a mass gathering to hear Him.

When Jesus finished speaking, He told Simon (who was evidently in the boat with him) to go further out into the lake where the water was deeper and to lower his fishing nets (Luke 5:4). At first Simon protested.  “Look Jesus, we have fished here all night and we have caught nothing” is what he told him.  Think about it.  Simon knew his trade.  Fishing the Galilee is usually done at night, not during the day.  On top of that, he had already spent hours cleaning and repairing his nets for the next night’s run.  But, then he said something unexpected, “Nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5).

Sometimes, when I read the words of Scripture and they don’t seem to make sense to me, I say to myself, “God, you want me to do what?”  I’m learning not to do that.  It’s a good thing Simon put aside his practical wisdom (doubts) and did as Jesus asked.  Look again at what happened:

6-7 “And when they had done this, they caught an enormous shoal of fish—so big that the nets began to tear. So they signaled to their friends in the other boats to come and help them. They came and filled both the boats to sinking point.”  (Luke 5:6-7)

Simon knew that this was a supernatural event.  He was overwhelmed.  His response tells us all we need to know as he fell on his knees before Jesus and said,

 8“Keep away from me, Lord, for I’m only a sinful man!”  (Luke 5:8)

Like everything else that the Almighty orchestrates here on spaceship earth, there was a purpose in all of this.  Jesus reassured the shaken fisherman with these words:

10“Don’t be afraid, Simon. From now on your catch will be men.” (Luke 5:10).

And so, from that day forward Simon Barjona, the professional fisherman, became Peter – the fisher of men.  His commitment to follow the Liberator Jesus would now be absolute.  The scriptures tell us that he and his business partners:

11 “…brought the boats ashore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:11)

I’m sure that Simon Peter & Company had no idea how incredible the next three years of adventure would turn out to be, nor that they would be a part of a movement that would change the course of human history.

Too many Christians are no longer fishers of men, just the keepers of the aquarium.” ― Paul Harvey

This was not the only seafaring escapade that Peter shared with Jesus.  Here’s an account of another adventure, recorded in the Newer Testament:

24 “Night fell, and out on the lake the disciples were in trouble. For the wind had risen and they were fighting heavy seas. 

25 About four o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the (surface of the) water! 26 They screamed in terror, for they thought he was a ghost.

27 But Jesus immediately spoke to them, reassuring them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said.

28 Then Peter called to him: “Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water.”

29 “All right,” the Jesus said, “come along!”

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and rescued him. “O man of little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 And when they had climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

33 The others sat there, awestruck. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.  (Matthew 14:24-33 – TLB)

It’s the fourth watch of the night (between 3 A.M. and 6 A.M) and Team Jesus is in trouble.  They are all on a boat, attempting to cross the Sea of Galilee, when a fierce storm arises.  Fighting a strong headwind and hammering waves, fear for their lives now grips them.  Without warning, they see what looks like a man calmly walking on the water toward the boat.  They freaked.  Wouldn’t you?  “It’s a ghost” they screamed.  But the “ghost” was none other than the Master – Jesus.  He tells them not to be afraid.

Have you ever done anything impulsive?  No?  Don’t be a liar.  We all have.  Simon Peter was habitually impulsive.  So of course he was the first to speak out, “Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water.”  So Jesus told him to have at it.

Now, I will say this for Simon Peter, he showed a willingness to attempt the humanly impossible.  He put his big number 10’s overboard and began to walk toward the Liberator Jesus.  Let’s put that another way; by faith, Peter did the impossible – he walked on the water!

But then something happened.  He took his eyes off of Jesus and began to weigh the circumstances.  Let’s see, howling wind, crashing waves, not to mention people don’t walk on water; Yikes.  Simon Peter panicked and began to sink into the tempestuous sea.  What would you do next?  Exactly. “HELP, save me”! (Matthew 14:30).

Jesus reaches out to Peter and He grabs his arm in a firm grip. Next Jesus yells at him for attempting the impossible, calling him stupid.  Sorry, that is not what happened.  Instead Jesus reprimands him for entertaining distrust; “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

The lesson here is simple; absolute faith in the supernatural power available through our relationship with the Creator of all things means that nothing is impossible in your life.  That does not mean that everything your little heart desires is now possible.  What it does mean is that the impossible is always possible.  You will have to ponder that one on your own; I am not going to do all of your thinking for you.

Every example in the Gospels where God shows up, it’s always when the seas are the stormiest, where there is discontinuity.” ― Clark Durant
Listen to me, you may never find yourself on the windswept Sea of Galilee, stepping out of a boat, braving the waves of a roiling sea to walk on the water.  But you will be faced with many challenges that are just as terrifying and froth with danger.   Whenever we take a stand for the ways of our Creator, life can quickly shift against the current of popular cultures, our neighbors and even our families.  You must decide if your commitment to the one true God and His Liberator Jesus are worth “leaving everything to follow him.”

Peter was just a simple fisherman.  But, he was willing to surrender all to follow the Liberator Jesus.  As a result, the Spirit of the Almighty re-purposed him into a fisher of men. Today that same Spirit is calling men and women everywhere to spread the good news of redemption to a lost and rapidly dying world system.  If you say yes to the Liberator Jesus, you too become his fishers of men and women. There is no greater privilege here on the earth.  Just ask Peter.

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
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr. ―

Ahoy Mates!

I caught my reflection in the water just now.  I’m sitting at Gill Dawg.  It’s a little tiki joint tucked away on the Cotee river in Port Richey, Florida.  My “office” for the day is a table perched at water’s edge.  Yeah, it’s another one of those tranquil moments here in Florida.

Staring at the mangroves along the riverbank, my mind wandered to the days of unconcerned youth.  I saw my daddy, both annoyed and amused.  Mother had just given me an earful (again) for yet another adolescent “faux pas” which has greatly distressed her.   “That was irresponsible.  What’s a matter with you? It’s a dangerous world out there and you can’t afford to be stupid”, she said.  I laughed out loud as that distant memory slowly melted into the present.  “Compared to today, mom”, I thought, “My behavior was virtuous.”

If you are a regular reader then you already know that I am rather transparent about my faith in the Architect of all things (God).  Biblical reality shapes my world view.  I’m far from perfect and certainly not clairvoyant, just a sinner made safe by the Creator’s grace.  But when the headline news starts to sound like excerpts from scriptural books like Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah or Revelation, I can’t help but take notice.  Friends, we’re living in exceptionally difficult times.  Okay, before you break out in a chorus of “No scitan Sherlock, ya think…” please hear me out.

I assume that most of you are familiar with this guy named Paul from the Bible’s Newer Testament.  At the risk of being repetitious, here’s some background for the newbies: He was born Saul around 1 AD in Tarsus, a city in ancient Asia Minor.  His compiled letters account for almost half the written content of the Bible’s New Testament (13 of the 27 books) and they are the major source of orthodox Christian theology.  Paul was initially a zealous Jew who hated those who followed the way of the Nazarene.  But through a series of incredible events, he came to recognize that Jesus was indeed the long awaited Liberator of mankind (The Messiah).

Paul had a close friend named Timothy.  Let me tell you a little about him.  Timothy also lived in the first century AD.  He became Paul’s ardent student, and later his trusted companion, co-worker and fellow traveler. In fact, Timothy’s name appears as coauthor of the Newer Testament letters known as, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.  It is believed that in about the year 64 AD, Paul left Timothy at an ancient Greek city called Ephesus to oversee a local assembly of the faithful.  In a letter to Timothy, Paul wrote these predictive and cautionary words,

1-5 “Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.”  (2 Timothy 3:1-5 MSG)

Okay, so Paul does not mince words when describing how mankind (void of God’s amazing grace) would simply continue down the path of decadence.  The way he defines the characteristics of lost humanity (especially as we draw closer to the end of the era of mankind) is unnerving.  I particularly like his characterization of those gone astray as “allergic to God”.  I don’t know what makes some people more irritable, political discussion or bringing up a Supernatural being in a conversation.  Like it or not, Paul nailed it.  We are living in the predicted “difficult times” when for many, Religion is little more than a pretense.   It’s amazing how easily a person can assume the outward form of pious belief when it suits a purpose and yet their overall lifestyle nullifies any validity of true spirituality.

This is true religion, to approve what God approves, to hate what he hates, and to delight in what delights him.” ― Charles Hodge

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder how many characteristics from that list in 2 Timothy chapter 3 could have described us at one time or another.  Thank God for His undeserved favor (grace)!  Without divine intervention we too would be the people that Paul warned Timothy to avoid. Listen, we all still behave badly on occasion, but a true follower of the Liberator Jesus is being transformed into the image of our Creator a little more each day by that otherworldly influence that is at work within us.

Paul had more words of wisdom for young Timothy,

 10-11a “But you, Timothy, have known intimately both what I have taught and how I lived. My purpose and my faith are no secrets to you. You saw my endurance and love and patience as I met all those persecutions and difficulties at Antioch, Iconium and Lystra.

11b-13 And you know how the Lord brought me safely through them all. Persecution is inevitable for those who are determined to live really Christian lives, while wicked and deceitful men will go from bad to worse, deluding others and deluding themselves.” (2 Timothy 3:10-13 PHILLIPS)

This once Pharisaical man was always down for the good fight.  He epitomizes the real deal.  As an unassuming follower of Jesus, he understood what it truly means to live a life that respects and honors the Creator of all things (GOD).  He also knew how easy it is to deceive people who are naive (sadly, even many of today’s Christians, it seems), and who are openly searching for meaning in life.  Paul warns of the fraudulent “con men” for a reason. They gain your confidence and then exploit your trust.  Their misrepresentation of God helps to worsen the public perception of the Liberator Jesus. Don’t let that discourage you.

Listen now to what Paul went on to tell Timothy,

14 “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Wow.  Scriptural Truth defines us.  If we are but a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel, then God as the Master potter uses His truth to prepare and equip us to do His work. The Almighty is shaping our earthen vessels for a specific purpose.

A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire most.”  ― Thomas Merton

It’s inescapable; this current world system will continue to grow more and more dangerous and deceived.  People will go right on rejecting the Creator of all things (GOD) and His Liberator.  In fact, the Almighty will eventually expedite mankind’s ultimate delusional state.  Say what?  Absolutely.  It begins when an imposter savior – an anti-Christ – arrives on the world scene.  Here is what the scriptures have to say on that subject,

“A 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 2:11-12 – TLB)

Pay attention now: when someone hears the truth but habitually refuses to obey it, they leave themselves wide-open to every lie and deception disseminated in the midst of humanity. Paul told the Jesus followers living in ancient Rome that as a result of mankind’s foolishness and their arrogant disdain for the ways of the Almighty, people will subsequently:

28 “…give up on God and will not even acknowledge him, so, God will give them up to doing everything their evil minds can think of.”

“Although they know of God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they will not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of others who practice them” (Romans 1:28, 32).

Yes indeed, it’s going to get really – really – bad here on spaceship earth.  But, here’s some good news; you can be spared the worse of what is to come – the wrath of an angry Sovereign.  How does a life of certainty (now and ever after) that is personally guaranteed by the only legitimate champion of truth and justice sound to you?  I’d like you to meet Jesus.  Really get to know Him.  I have told you a few things about Him before. He claims to be the doorway through which we must pass in order to enter a new dimension of living.  He also referred to himself as the road upon which we must travel to make our way back where we belong.  Follow Jesus and you’re on the path of a “real life” here on earth.  When you die, now that’s the best part. You get to spend timelessness with the Creator of all things. (GOD).  On the other hand, you could just keep drifting along with the currents, following the ways of this present darkness and, well, you’ll remain lost, delusional and on your own. Your call.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my grouper and romaine salad awaits.  Thank you God for those who have heard your voice today; May they all have ears to hear and eyes to see.  And, thank you for my food.  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
The Devil pulls the strings which make us dance; we find delight in the most loathsome things; some furtherance of Hell each new day brings, and yet we feel no horror in that rank advance.” ― Charles Baudelaire

It’s been dubbed the ‘ostrich problem’ by a British research team – disregarding reality in order to sidestep unpleasant situations.  The expression ‘ostrich problem’, is apparently a reference to the urban myth that an ostrich, when surrounded by danger, will bury its head in the sand.  The notion is that the supposedly dumb bird believes that if it doesn’t see the problem then the problem will go away.  According to this study, people often ignore what is going on around them to avoid the “negative feelings” associated with confronting the truth – in other words, they either ignore or reject the facts.  Evidently, denial can also be therapeutic.  I guess for some folks, ignorance really is bliss.

Meanwhile, here in modern Sodom and Gomorrah, the decline and fall of decency and rudimentary moral behaviors continues unabated.  Everyday a new “evil” is declared to be “good”.  What was once shunned by polite society is now not only embraced and promoted, it is also being forced upon those who continue to recognize it as sinful or inappropriate.

The 8th-century BC prophet Isaiah ben Amoz, penned a warning aimed at his own malevolent culture:

18 Woe to those who drag their sins behind them like a bullock on a rope. 19 They even mock the Holy One (God) and dare the Lord to punish them. “Hurry up and punish us, O Lord,” they say. “We want to see what you can do!” 20 They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter21 Woe to those who are wise and shrewd in their own eyes!”  (Isaiah 5:18-21 – TLB)

This ancient text got me wondering; is there a word that can help us to grasp the mechanism that drives a cultural breakdown?  Sin comes to my mind.  But for so many post-moderns, sin is “so yesterday”.  Okay, let me offer you a new “old” word.  Maybe we can hash tag it.  Make it “so today.”  Here it is: Decadence.

By living a life “against nature,” the deviant or pervert becomes a hero or heroine in decadent fiction.” ― Asti Hustvedt

Are you at all familiar with the term decadence?  The word literally means to descend from a higher order to a lower level in quality, character, or vitality.  A decadent person is sometimes also referred to as a degenerate – one who is in spiritual, intellectual, or especially moral decline.  Social decadence is a process; a slow and sometimes barely perceived deterioration in the moral fiber of a culture. Like hidden decay, the rot can often go unnoticed for a very long time; eventually reaching a point where the damage produced is well beyond mending.

Here in the United States of Sodom, concepts like honesty, decency, honor and ethics have already lost much of their significance in these post-modern times. It appears that our culture operates in such a state of delusion that people believe society is actually moving forward in a progressive triumph when in truth it is crumbling at its very foundations.  Have you heard this Proverb?

“When the righteous (honest and upright) are in (positions of) authority and become great, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.  (Proverbs 29:2 – AMP)

Groan… sigh… groan…

I’m fairly certain you are familiar with the idiom “it’s my lot in life.” That is actually a Biblical reference.  In the Older Testament book of Genesis, Lot parts ways with Abraham to seek his own future and he “pitched his tents toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). Unfortunately for him, he also parts ways with what God had planned.  This places Lot on the wrong life path.  Consequently, his days are filled with much trouble and sorrow. And that my friends is the origin of the idiom, “it’s my lot in life.”

Sometimes, I cannot help but notice the growing number of people who wish to focus the blame for their lot in life on someone or something other than themselves.  Whatever happened to individual responsibility; the understanding that we are each accountable for our own actions and outcomes?   There was a time when attainment came from hard work and perseverance. People once took delight in getting an honest education, acquiring useful skills and learning self-sufficiency. Today these qualities are being replaced by a dependence on various forms of public assistance as the proletariat population continues to become ever more reliant on various forms of “tax payer” handouts to earn a living.

Promises of freedom through economic equality (socialism), and a quasi-fascist approach to governance (quite often championed by our modern liberal reformists) are regularly advanced through a highly sophisticated deception perpetrated upon an under-informed population.  As a result, moral and religious beliefs are routinely attacked, and the once cherished traditions of faith, virtuous family values and a genuine sense of community are quietly being eradicated.  Modern progressives call this “fundamentally transforming society”.  I call it the new Babylon.

Some would argue that we are simply discovering alternative ways to look at community. In this current Cultural Revolution, our society is progressing for the furtherance of the collective through diversity.  But others see a new way of life emerging where the people are being methodically stripped of any remaining self-determination. Weighed down by our post-modern confused logic and inconsistent (or non-existent) morality, we are losing sight of the higher purpose in and for our human existence.

The mother tongue of politicians is that of ancient Babylon: a language designed to severely limit discourse within a tower of praise to elitism, a language carried on breath’s reeking of the fecal matter from their paymasters” ― Dean Cavanagh

The United States of America was once firmly rooted in a Judeo-Christian certainty. Our traditional way of life (born of a faith in the providence of a Divine Creator) was central to our well-being as individuals and as a nation. It was a shared moral code which allowed our founding fathers to find common ground and mutual cooperation. The “great experiment” called the USA cannot survive the death of the very system of belief that brought it into being. When we lose touch with the Divine order of our Creator, the culture will most certainly decay precipitously.

Nearly 2000 years ago, a man named Saul of Tarsus (who later become known as Paul, an Apostle of the Liberator Jesus) waxed eloquent as he predictively saw the future,

18-23 But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to reverence him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figures you can buy at any roadside stand.

24-25 So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us.”  (Romans 1:21-25 – MSG)

The morality and justice of God set against the wickedness of mankind is nothing new. The Creator will eventually put a stop to all of this abject stupidity. He alone can and will impartially judge mankind. Our days are numbered here on spaceship earth.  In the meantime, we who know the one true Spirit will indeed cling to our cherished traditions of faith, virtuous family values and a genuine sense of community as best as we can.

The Newer Testament writer Paul also once wrote a word of instruction to his friend and fellow believer, Pastor Timothy,

2“Everything that you have heard me preach in public you should in turn entrust to reliable men (and women), who will be able to pass it on to others.”  (2 Timothy 2:2 – PHILLIPS)

That is an assignment we can all embrace!  Fighting “Caesar” is not the answer.  Obsessive preoccupation with the tomfoolery of partisan politics will only stress you out.  Right and truth are neither Republican nor Democrat.  Governments may turn oppressive, but it’s always the TRUTH that sets you free.  That is why I follow the Liberator Jesus, He said, “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life” (John 14:6).

Let me share these additional thoughts from the pen of the Newer Testament writer Paul as originally written to the Christians living in the ancient city of Philippi,

8-9 “Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of Almighty God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will always be with you.”  (Philippians 4:9 – PHILLIPS)

There are many righteous, pure and beautiful things still crying out for our attention here on space ship earth.  Never ignore the dangers of this present darkness and “bury your head in the sand.”  But likewise, never let the sands of adversity entomb your faith and destroy your effectiveness.  The Newer Testament writer Matthew quoted the Liberator Jesus as saying,

5-8 “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the (spiritually) dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”  (Matthew 10:7-10 – MSG)

Look out mates, there may be many squalls ahead.  But come hell or high water, we can be ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within us.  Never give up on hope, it is the anchor of your soul.

Let’s pray.

Father of all life, we your people on spaceship earth, called by your name, are humbling ourselves today, calling out to you, seeking your presence, and turning away from the wickedness that has become so pervasive in our nations.  We respectfully call your attention to the promise recorded in the older covenant book of 2 Chronicles, 14 “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”  We put you in remembrance of your word today.  And we ask you to watch over us, protect us and if it is not already too late, to heal our land.  Thank you Sovereign Creator.  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
We do not understand the intricate pattern of the stars in their courses, but we know that He who created them does, and that just as surely as He guides them, He is charting a safe course for us.” ― Billy Graham

What would it be like if we were all born with a detailed life map encoded into the little grey cells of our consciousness?  Imagine yourself actually perceiving with the mind’s eye every detail of your life from birth to death – in advance!  How cool would that be?

Want to know what you will be doing a year from now?  Not a problem, consult the life map.  Wondering if you will ever get married?  Again, just access your life map to find the answer.  Talk about the ultimate neural network interface.  Nothing will ever take you by surprise.  How awesome!

But, not so fast.  Here’s the caveat:  You would have access to every moment by moment detail of your life, but you would not be able change a thing.  Your personal life map would simply chart every triumph, pit fall, joy, pain, success and failure that you will ever experience along life’s way, but it’s read only – knowledge without any control.  Are you still keen on that idea?

Many years ago, as a young man in search of the truth, I once prayed, “O’ God, please, show me your will for my whole lifetime.”  I thought it was a noble request.  Why stumble around, making mistake after mistake, trying to discover and live my Divine purpose?   I’ll just ask the Almighty to map it all out for me in advance.  With my own personal life map in hand, I’ll simply follow the plan.  Have you ever prayed anything like that?  Thought about it, maybe?

Deep inside, I think we all would like God to be upfront and spit out the nitty-gritty details of our destiny here on spaceship earth.  “I want to follow you Liberator Jesus, but please let me see everything you have planned for my life so I can make an informed decision.”   You know what I think?  If our Creator ever agreed to show us our life map, and we saw all of its darker moments in advance, we’d opt to take a pass on this journey altogether!   “Thank you God, but, I saw some real yucky things in my life so… I’ll just pass on this whole deal.”  Like it or not, everyday life is a walk in the unknown.  Every step is a revelation.  It requires a natural faith to live out each day.

The lighthouse of the Lord beckons to all as we sail the seas of life… Our purpose is to steer an undeviating course in that direction… A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder—never likely to reach home port.” Thomas S. Monson

It’s the same when it comes to following the Liberator Jesus.  Genuine Christianity is a calling – not a religion.  If you hear the Creator’s voice, and he offers you an invitation to come aboard the great ship Redemption, there are only two ways you can respond to that call – yes or no.

“But I want to know all about the voyage first; weigh my options and then decide if I am comfortable with following this Jesus and God’s ways.”

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.  To come aboard this ship, you have to first say “yes” to Captain Jesus.  This requires an act of faith on your part as you will now weigh anchor and sail life’s uncharted waters with the Creator Himself.

In the Newer Testament letter to the Hebrews we find this definition of faith:

1-3Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. It was this kind of faith that won their reputation for the saints of old. And it is after all only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was created by God’s command—that the world which we can see has come into being through principles which are invisible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3 PHILLIPS)

When the ocean fog is rolling in thick and we can hardly see through the gloom, it is by faith that we learn to place our absolute confidence in that which we cannot easily grasp.  But remember, even though faith is trusting in what we cannot see, it is never blind.  The eyes of faith can look beyond the limitations of the human experience. They fix their gaze upon the Liberator Jesus, “the author and the finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)  The Newer Testament writer Paul put it this way,

18 “So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”  (2 Cor. 4:18 TLB)

The eyes of faith can peer into the realm of the Almighty. They see things which, at present, may be non-existent here on spaceship earth, and yet they see those nonexistent things as if they already were a reality.

How?  Now you ask of mysteries.  Grasp this if you can; faith is reality.  It gives substance to our hopes and acts as the evidence of what, at least at this moment, cannot be seen with natural eyes.

By faith we enter the regatta (race) that is set before us. And, it is faith which enables us to stay true to the appointed course as we endeavor to finish our race with patient endurance. Swiftly, steadily, the winds of faith move us forward.  By faith we avoid obstacles and if necessary, even move mountains.  By faith our lives are spent in the service of the Almighty and as a result, we fulfill our destiny.

Seeing that a Divine Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, one who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.” John Calvin

By the way, that life map we spoke of earlier really does exist, but only the Creator can see every detail in advance.  Thankfully, we have an otherworldly pilot living inside of us called the Holy Spirit.  He lets us grasp what we need to understand on this amazing voyage of adventure whenever it suits the Divine purpose and serves as our navigator in this life.

And on that note, anchors aweigh my friends; be there glassy seas or squalls on the horizon, steady as she goes. With our life compass set by the indwelling Spirit of our Creator, we’re on our way home.  Ahoy mates!

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