Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ Category

There is nothing in the world as easy in giving as an opinion; consequently, in general, there are few things so utterly valueless. ― Charles William Day

It’s a beautiful morning. The Gulf waters are placid at the moment. This will most likely change later on today as the developing sea breezes herald the arrival of our prevalent afternoon thunderstorms. But for now, the pelicans are feasting on an abundant fish buffet, and the dolphins are entertaining the tourists who visit the docks while on holiday. Me? Just enjoying another “Floriday at the office” in this wonderful paradise that I call home. What’s that? Calling it a paradise is just my “opinion.” One man’s paradise could be another man’s hell. Well, if you’re not particularly fond of palm trees, beaches, exotic wild life, an abundance of tasty sea food, and fresh locally grown produce most of the year, I suppose that is true. The heat? Yes, it does get hot in the summer. But some love it hot – like me. So, yes, in my humble opinion, I indeed live in a sub-tropic paradise.

Speaking of opinions, have you noticed that just about everyone has an opinion about almost everything imaginable these days? Most share them quite freely and often with great passion. It seems to me that mankind is very… well, opinionated. Of course, that’s just my opinion (tee-hee).

According to the Genesis account of the origins of our species, the Creator brought forth mankind upon the earth and established some basic rules that were to be obeyed. Shortly thereafter man screwed up and when confronted offered his own opinion on what had occurred. It was the female named Eve’s opinion that the tempter Serpent was to blame for her indiscretion. The man Adam had a strong opinion as to who should be held accountable – he blamed “the woman” that the Creator had put in his life. But in the end, the great Architect paid no attention to either of their inapt opinions (or excuses, depending on how you want to look at it). He just stuck to the facts. They disobeyed a Divine directive and now they would suffer the consequences – opinions or excuses notwithstanding.

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

Some may argue that everyone is “entitled” to their personal opinion, but I say, not so fast. That assertion has actually been referred to by many philosophers and truth-seekers as a logical fallacy. Proclaiming ones right to an opinion is often used as an excuse to support a position that is factually indefensible. Claiming a “right” to your opinion does not necessarily entitle you to speak out on a matter of which you have little knowledge or relevant expertise. In fact, that would make you opinionated which by definition means “to form (an opinion) prior to actual knowledge or experience.” Let me put it another way, a truly valid opinion is always defensible by facts (proofs, evidence). Like the fictional detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, in the old Dragnet television series would often say, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”

There are, of course, those for whom facts and truth are a troublesome annoyance. Take former Indiana Congressman Earl Landgrebe for instance. In 1974 he famously uttered these words during the Watergate hearings, “Don’t confuse me with facts: I’ve got a closed mind.” Ah, spoken like a quintessential politician (with a few rare exceptions, of course). And no, he was not a Socialist nor a liberal Democrat, he was actually a Republican. Sorry, just those pesky facts again.

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. I can remember a time when our ideas were forged in the fires of realistic knowledge. We took our time, weighed the evidence, and pondered the many facets of a challenge or an argument before forming an opinion. Today, not so much. In this the so called “sound bite generation”, positions and decisions are often based upon short, sharp morsels of information and flashy “memes” spread via social media. Quite often the “information” isn’t even factual, thus the term “false news.”

Your opinion is your opinion, your perception is your perception–do not confuse them with “facts” or “truth”. Wars have been fought and millions have been killed because of the inability of men to understand the idea that EVERYBODY has a different viewpoint. ― John Moore

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. With all due respect, 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. It doesn’t matter how you interpret a “fact”, deal with a “fact”, or if you disagree with a “fact”. A FACT is a fact. End of discussion. Sorry relativists and ye coddled masses, 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, on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. In a surprise victory, the Republican ticket of businessman Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence defeated the Democrat ticket of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, despite losing the plurality of the popular vote. Trump took office as the 45th President, and Pence as the 48th Vice President, on January 20, 2017. It doesn’t matter if you like this fact or not. It doesn’t matter if you dispute this fact. It doesn’t matter if you rejected this fact. It doesn’t even matter if you refuse to accept the fact that Donald Trump IS the President. Why? Because it is FACT. It happened. And you can do nothing to change this circumstance. It is a cold hard fact. 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.

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

Sometimes an opinion can have validity and therefore carry great weight. For example, when a judge or court of law renders an opinion that is based upon the principles of law in reaching a case decision. Physicians may also refer to a diagnosis as an opinion. In this instance, the medical expert offers a formal statement of judgment or advice based upon substantiable knowledge and experience. These “informed” opinions are vastly different from the everyday, run of the mill, opines usually based on a personal belief or blind indoctrination. Random opinions are seldom grounded in evidence that can be checked. In my experience, many of the avant-garde opinions that barrage us on any given day are frequently worthless. Why? Because, again, these random opinions are simply a viewpoint or judgment formed about something that rests on insufficient grounds (proofs) to produce legitimacy. In other words, you haven’t “shown me the facts”. I like what the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone may be entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own set of facts.”

Now here’s the problem: we live in an increasingly opinion energized social order where Just about everyone seems to have strong feelings on just about everything, and of course, their position is ALWAYS right. Frequently, when the highly opinionated person does not want to address a legitimate challenge to their point of view they simply hide behind the well-worn cliché, “Let’s agree to disagree.” Sometimes this can be a legitimate response, but more often than not it seems to be just a convenient cop-out.

From Corporate Boardrooms to the spineless Halls of Government – it’s all about opinions. It has gotten so out of control that our society is now run less by the facts and more by endless and often unreliable opinion polls regurgitated ad nausium by a driveling news media. 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, some writers and commentators will mix fact with personal 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 and listen wisely. 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 Scriptures are among the most accurate of all the ancient texts – religious or secular. Is that just me being opinionated, is it my factually informed opinion?

Let’s see: 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 scriptural accuracy. There are also many extra-biblical writings that confirm the extraordinary life and times of the man known as 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 today.

Some say that the claims of scripture are nothing more than fanciful opinion. But given the substantiable evidence available, I think not. The Bible records within its pages things which truly exist and events which have occurred. It contains truth that can be checked and backed up with proof. The Bible contains factual and reliable information – not just conjecture and opinion. 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 again, that is not simply my random belief. Given the evidences, this is my factually well informed opinion.

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

You know, this is a really great essay! (Ha-ha-ha… that, by the way, is just my not so humble 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 Jesus Christ. 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 a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie®, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
There is a movement bubbling up today that goes beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living, there is coming a generation that stops complaining about the church that it sees and becomes the church that it dreams of.” – Shane Claiborne

Religion’s not your thing?  You say that attending a Church service is passé, or irrelevant?  Tell me your story.

“I tried that church thing. Bunch of hypocrites mixed in with losers and assorted other misfits who can’t (or won’t) have any real fun. Who needs the drama? Bible thumpers really annoy me anyway. Hanging with the “sinners” is way more fun. I’m basically a happy person. I guess I believe in a higher power; you know, the man upstairs. Just not sure what or who that is. I’ll live my life the way I like and do good things whenever I can. But religion, what’s the point…?  I really don’t get why people even go to church.”

Okay, I catch your drift, and I really do understand how you feel.  But, to my way of thinking, you are just one of a multitude of “happy agnostics” for whom God is… well… whatever God is.

However, you’ve asked a fair question, “Why do people go to church?”  What compels the Sunday-go-to-meeting folks to return week after week to the place where the so-called faithful gather?  Is it just:

  • Tradition?
  • Guilt?
  • Duty?
  • Fear?
  • Emptiness?
  • All of the above?

Yes, for many those are some of the main reasons.  Week after week people all over the world respectfully go through the motions prescribed by their religion more out of blind tradition than genuine devotion.  That’s the problem with vision-less religion in general.

How do you define religion?  Is it just a set of philosophies which help you to understand the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe? Is it something that you follow with blind ritualistic devotion?  Is it an acceptable moral code for governing the conduct of human affairs? And if so, does that make “church” an assembly of persons who share a common adherence to a particular set of doctrines and practices which help to manage their lives on earth?  Or is religion the hunt for the truth?

What’s that?

“Listen man, religion is all about the higher power dude. Something is out there see and I believe in it, you know. I’m good with that. And life is, you know, being alive.  Religion to me means living like a good person should. And “truth”, that’s whatever works for you at the moment… My truth can be totally different from your truth, and yet they are both still the truth, right?  Anyway, who cares about all this stuff?”

Well for one, I care.  And, no, I do not believe that everyone can have their own private interpretation of “Truth.” Some things are absolute.  To me, knowing the absolute truth is very important.  I suspect that I am not alone in this conviction.  No sane person would deliberately believe in a lie.  Would you?

For some, truth is living in harmony with perceived fact or moral conviction.  But, is that just the product of a cultural consensus?  Is truth subjective or objective; relative or absolute?  Tell me, what is truth?

“You will NEVER know the truth until “The Truth” becomes your life and your life becomes His. Truth requires absolute, total surrender to the Son of God. It is an exchange of life in the most intimate way in the universe. It is a marriage of souls. It is a bond that sets free. It is a paradox. And when you enter this paradox, you will be free indeed AND you will then also know True LOVE.” – Gary Amirault

Have you ever heard of Pontius Pilate? He was in charge of the Roman province of Judaea from 26 -36 AD.  Pilate is perhaps best remembered for his role in the trial and crucifixion of a man called Jesus.  Here is the Biblical account:

33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him. 34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”   37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” 38“What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. (John 18:30-38)

At first, Pilate finds no reason why Jesus should be sentenced to death. He even tried to persuade the crowd to let him go. However, being a quintessential politician, he soon caves to the madness of an unruly special interest group (the angry mob). But, not before attempting to avoid personal responsibility for sentencing Jesus to death by ceremonially washing his hands of the whole matter.

Let’s not miss the significant statements Jesus made regarding the truth when he was being interrogated by Pilate. He said, “I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth” and “All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

Pilate’s well-known response to Jesus still reverberates in the hearts of mankind to this day. He said, “What is Truth?” When it comes to that question, you may be more like Pontius Pilate than you care to admit.

As a Christian, I accept something as truth only if it is consistent with my understanding of the thoughts and ways of the Supernatural being whom I believe to be the designer of all things. The scriptures teach us that His thoughts and ways are on a much higher level than ours.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.   (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)

Oh the foolishness of mere mortals to think they will ever be fully aware of what the architect of all things knows. God alone delineates truth because He is the truth. The Creator is the basis of all we perceive as reality.

In order for one to discover Divine Truth, one must be willing and able to go beyond the religious dogma that divides, rather than unites, humanity.” ― Jason E. Marshall

When Jesus spoke to the one whom he referred to as our “heavenly father” (God), He asked that His disciples would be made a distinct and separate class of people on the earth.  How?  He asked the Divine Spirit to open our minds to THE truth.  This is what he said to his followers shortly before leaving the earth:

13-19”… I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing so my people can experience my joy completed in them.  I gave them your word; the godless world hates them because of it.  …They didn’t join the world’s ways, just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.  I’m not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. Make them holy – consecrated – with the truth; your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I’m consecrating myself for their sake so they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission. (John 17:16-19 MSG)

Truth as it is revealed to us by the Creator of all things is what sets us apart from the spiritually blind inhabitants of earth.  When you are in tune with the one true God of the universe, you are, in fact, the genuine “illuminate” – the enlightened ones.

Jesus also said,

“You will know the truth and the truth will free you”. (John 8:32)

What’s that?

“What do you mean set me free?  I’m already free. I am the master of my own fate and the captain of my soul. I don’t need that God crutch. That’s a bunch of religious BS. I don’t believe it.”

That’s fine.  Suit yourself.  But would you at least hear me out?

According to the Liberator Jesus, Truth is what unshackles mankind from:

  • The bondage of empty religious traditions
  • The prison of endless guilt & fear
  • The pain of loneliness and rejection
  • And the robotic cycle of spiritual obligations void of joy and significance

When this man called Jesus of Nazareth visited planet earth, He claimed to be on a mission to teach us the actual meaning and purpose of life itself. The crux of His message was very clear and simple:

  • You are lost – I AM the way.
  • You are deceived – I AM the truth.
  • You are the walking dead – I AM the genuine life you need.

Isn’t that what we all want – a way to the truth and genuine life – not mere physical existence?  This Jesus made a very bold declaration:

23-24 “The difference between us,” Jesus said to them, “is that you come from below and I am from above. You belong to this world but I do not. That is why I said you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am who I am, you will die in your sins.”

25-26 Then they said, “Who are you?” “I am what I have told you I was from the beginning,” replied Jesus. “There is much in you that I could speak about and condemn. But he who sent me is true and I am only speaking to this world what I myself have heard from him.”  (John 8:23-26 – PHILLIPS)

Wow.  Jesus claimed to have come from another world.  He spoke of our need to listen to what he was sent to the earth to tell us.  Jesus promised to reveal a definite purpose for our natural terrestrial life and then to guide us into a time without end (eternity) when this temporary physical existence is over.  That’s not religion, philosophy, or dogma – that is the truth.

Many churches of all persuasions are hiring research agencies to poll neighborhoods, asking what kind of church they prefer. Then the local churches design themselves to fit the desires of the people. True faith in God is being replaced by trendy religion that serves the selfishness of man.”Billy Graham

So then, why do people go to church?   Thought I forgot, didn’t you. Yes, we’re back to our original question once again.  Why do I assemble with other people who believe like I do on a regular basis?  Certainly, for me, it’s not out of duty or obligation. It’s not “go to church or die.”  Been there, done that.  If you must have “reasons”, church is a place:

  • To celebrate life beyond mere existence
  • To encourage and to be encouraged
  • To see reality unfold more clearly
  • To grow in genuine wisdom and knowledge and understanding
  • To learn how to serve the purpose of our Creator by becoming an instrument for His use in this lost and rapidly decaying world order

Perhaps the most compelling reason for why I still choose to assemble with a group of like-minded people can be found in this passage from the very Book of Truth that forms and feeds my faith in God:

25 Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord’s return to earth is coming nearer. (Hebrews 10:25)

He’s on the way back to the earth.  Soon we shall behold Him – face to face. Until then, I’ll spend my time in comradery with those of like faith and remain occupied in the work that I’ve been called to do.  Hopefully, I am investing my “gifts” wisely. That way, when my day of reckoning arrives, I’ll have something of eternal value to show for my life.  What about you?  Hmmmmm?

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie®, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
“I am pressed to admit that I don’t have the capacity to understand the bloodied horrors of a cross and the wild exhilaration of an empty tomb. But at the point that I think I completely understand God… I have lost Him. Therefore, I much prefer to simply marvel.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough

In the year 1674, Isaac Watts Jr. was born in jolly old England.  His father (Isaac Watts Sr.) was a committed religious Nonconformist.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this terminology, allow me to briefly enlighten you.  After the amended Acts of Uniformity were passed in England in 1662, the term Nonconformist was used in reference to a Protestant Christian who did not bow to the rules and regulations of the official Church of England.   Some of the dissidents were outright Separatists, desiring to break away from the sanctioned Church to form independent local Christian assemblies.  You may be surprised to learn that these early reformers and radicals who stood in defiance of the state approved and thus “politically correct” church went on to become, among others, the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Methodists of today.

Isaac Watts Jr. grew up to be a renowned Nonconformist, an English Christian minister, hymn writer, theologian and logician.  But he is perhaps best known as the “Father of English Hymnody”.  At the time of his death on November 25th, 1748, he had written in excess of 750 hymns – many of which are still in use today.

Among those great anthems is a little gem entitled, “This is the day the Lord hath made.”  I now draw your attention to a single line from verse two: “Today He rose and left the dead, and Satan’s empire fell.”

As the rolling calendar once again proclaims that it is Easter time, Christians everywhere will pause to reflect upon the theological lynchpin of our faith: The resurrection from among the dead of a man called Jesus.  But why is the belief in His resurrection considered critical to true Christianity?

“God undertook the most dramatic rescue operation in cosmic history. He determined to save the human race from self-destruction, and He sent His Son incarnate as Jesus to salvage and redeem them. The work of man’s redemption was accomplished at the cross.”” – Billy Graham

Let’s start with the life of Jesus.  He walked the earth nearly two millennia ago.  He said he was a visitor from another world who was born the son of man.  He claimed that his Father was God and that he was sent to earth in human form to redeem mankind.  He was no stranger to this planet as he also claimed to be its designer.  And so the Creator lived for a season incognito among his own creation.  He spoke often of His mission on earth.  He stirred controversy wherever he went.  I have come to “seek and save that which has been lost”, is what he proclaimed.  (Luke 19:10).  The worldly wise just scoffed and jeered, while the threatened religious establishment mostly hated him.  But many believed His message.  Eventually they put Him to death for defying the status quo and delivering a scandalous message of hope, redemption and freedom to a lost and dying people on a doomed rebellious planet.  But, according to Him, His death was also part of the plan.

On that sad and malevolent day long ago, the religious leaders persuaded the authorities to kill Him.  Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judaea, reluctantly ordered the execution and then promptly washed his hands of all responsibility.  So the Roman soldiers first tortured Jesus, and then they took Him to a location outside of the city called Skull Hill (in Hebrew, Golgotha), a cursed place of public shame, pain and death, where they nailed and tied His bruised and beaten body to a wooden executioner’s crossbeam, hoisted it up high for all to see, and left Him there to die.

For hours this other worldly visitor, this Liberator, this Creator, this God in clandestine human form, hung between the Heavens and the Earth – suffering, bleeding, and slowly dying.  The earth trembled and quaked.  The sky grew dark and stormy.  And Jesus of Nazareth, who was guilty of nothing, quietly carried the weight of this world’s guilt and wickedness upon His shoulders.

Suddenly, looking up from his agony and shame, in a few focused moments of profundity that we may never fully understand, the Nazarene cried, “it is finished.”  The Greek word translated it is finished in the Bible is τετέλεσται (tetelestai), which means “paid in full.” When the Liberator Jesus uttered those final words, He was declaring that the debt owed was now wiped away completely and forever. But this was not His debt; The Redeemer had eliminated the debt owed by mankind—the debt created by our wickedness and rebellion. His mission on earth now being accomplished, He bowed His head, and released His Spirit into death.

With Jesus’ last breath on the cross, He declared the debt of sin cancelled, completely satisfied. Nothing else required. Not good deeds. Not generous donations. Not penance or confession or baptism or…or…or…nothing. The penalty for sin is death, and we were all born hopelessly in debt. He paid our debt in full by giving His life so that we might live forever.” – Charles R. Swindoll

This was indeed mankind’s darkest of hours.  And darkness itself was squealing with delight.  Those who knew Him, believed in Him, and loved Him were left to face devastating sadness, confusion and despair.  “What had gone wrong?  Why did He let them kill him?  What will we do?”

Remember that song I mentioned earlier?  It captures the reason why Jesus had to die:  Today He rose and left the dead and Satan’s empire fell!”  A new day was about to dawn.  A new dispensation would begin.  His death was not the end – it was only the beginning – and something wonderful was about to happen that would change the course of human history – The Resurrection!

1-7 “But at the first signs of dawn on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb, taking with them the aromatic spices they had prepared. They discovered that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on going inside, the body of the Lord Jesus was not to be found. While they were still puzzling over this, two men suddenly stood at their elbow, dressed in dazzling light. The women were terribly frightened, and turned their eyes away and looked at the ground. But the two men spoke to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here: he has risen! Remember what he said to you, while he was still in Galilee—that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, and must be crucified, and must rise again on the third day. 8-9 Then they did remember what he had said, and they turned their backs on the tomb and went and told all this to the eleven and the others who were with them.” (Luke 24:1-9)

So it began; He who had been tortured and brutally put to death had actually returned to the land of mere mortals, just as He promised.  His followers were overwhelmed and filled with joy.  One expressed some doubt.  But the news quickly spread far and wide.  Jesus was alive! He had conquered the grave.  Death could not hold him. He had power over the finality of mortality.

Many saw him alive as he would suddenly appear out of nowhere.  Elated, they listened as He spoke to them once again.  And the doubter even got to touch Him.  Soon their sorrow was replaced with jubilation as the memories of that horrific moment of unrelieved darkness on Skull Hill faded into the light of this now brighter era which had dawned upon mankind.

The Resurrection is at the core of our beliefs as Christians. Without it, our faith is meaningless.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin 

Centuries have passed since those eventful days recorded in the ancient texts of scripture.  And yet, the life, death and resurrection of a man called Jesus still remain the very life force of Christian humanity.  Though these facts presented here today may be deemed laughable by some, we who are spiritually enlightened must simply wait and work, trustfully, patiently, always remembering what the Liberator Jesus said,

1“Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in me. 2-3There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am. If this weren’t so, I would tell you plainly. (John 14:1-3 – Living Bible)

One day this supernatural man we know as Jesus will return to spaceship earth to finish what he started long ago.  For those who have faithfully awaited His return – dead or alive – there will be a party at the end of the world.  You too may have been invited.  Perhaps you’ve just forgotten to RSVP.  Here’s your chance to do so.  The Liberator Jesus composed the invitation this way,

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 – MSG)

Live free?  Take a real rest? Hey, I’m down for that… What about you?  Jesus came to open a door.  He is the door.  Jesus came to help mankind find the right road to true freedom.  He is the road as well.  Jesus came to exchange your inner emptiness for a fresh start – a new life.  He is the life.  All you have to do is accept His invitation.  Got it?  Great! See ya at the party!

Liberator Jesus, build up and invigorate the faith of those who have taken the time to read these words today.  Open the eyes of our spirit so that we might see the mighty world wherein you alone are master and King.  Help us die to the illusion of time so that with you and because of you we may indeed know the true power of your glorious resurrection.  Thank you Jesus, Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal JunkieTM, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
Between the radiant white of a clear conscience and the coal black of a conscience sullied by iniquity lie many shades of gray – where most of us live… Not perfect but not beyond redemption.” Sherry L. Hoppe

Pangs of conscience.  Yikes, there’s a quagmire waiting to be stepped in.  The popular meaning of this everyday expression is: “A feeling of shame, guilt, or embarrassment, resulting from behavior which one regrets.”  I’ll buy that.  I’ve been “panged” a time or 2000 in my lifetime.  How about you?  Have you ever suffered the pangs of conscience?  Experienced the pounding of a tell-tale heart?  Hmmm?

Fundamentally, the conscience is a small subtle voice within the human spirit that helps us to distinguish between good and evil, or right and wrong.  This inner witness is not under our control, but operates autonomously and without restrictions.  Try as we might, we cannot persuade ourselves that life is hunky-dory when our conscience tells us otherwise.  Make no mistake, we can fight our conscience tooth and toenail, but why should we?  When we learn to recognize and yield to the pangs of conscience, we seldom regret our behavior.

Let’s talk.

The voice of conscience is so delicate that it is easy to stifle it; but it is also so clear that it is impossible to mistake it.”  Madame de Stael

Here’s a true story.  It happened one day as I was having lunch.  Cloé (not her real name) approached my table and tried to smile, but I wasn’t convinced.  “You look upset,” I said.  She blew a puff of air from the corner of her mouth clearing a few unruly hairs from her eye and then she said with a sigh, “Is it that obvious?” To me it was. I’ve been coming to this Gulf Coast eatery for years.  I’ve spent many an hour writing outside on the “tiki” deck overlooking the water. Cloé has been my server on countless occasions.  We’ve had more than a few casual conversations, and you might say that I have gotten to know a bit about her. Today, she just was not her usual self.

It turned out that Cloé had argued with her spouse the night before. I thought to myself, “nothing unusual there,” anyone who has been married more than a week has most likely gone down that road. “It was over nothing,” she said, “but…my words, my tone…I just burst out with some hurtful things and my conscience is really bothering me.”

My response? I asked her what her conscience was saying. She laughed and said, “Tell him I’m sorry.” Grinning, I inquired as to what she planned to do with that advice. She lowered her voice and said, “I’m gonna listen to my heart.” Cloé had a troubled conscience. Her tell-tale heart kept pounding out a reminder that she was wrong.

Ever heard the term moral compass?  Opinions vary on precisely what the expression really means, but here’s my favorite definition: an inner guidance system which distinguishes what is right from what is wrong.  Just like the needle of a tangible compass, it functions as a director for morally appropriate behavior.  Our conscience (the voice of a human spirit) will normally speak to us based upon the “direction” our moral compass is pointing.

From a purely secular perspective, the human conscience is believed to be an innate self-reflective process leading to social and moral evaluations which help us to sense right and wrong.  That’s a mouthful.   As with just about everything that has to do with “defining” human existence, the origin, nature, and purpose of the conscience has occasioned great philosophical debate through much of our history here on spaceship earth. That being said, every human – from the pious to the heathen – possesses the inner voice of conscience.

For science, the end of the evolutionary struggle is simply represented by ‘survival.’ As for the means to that end, apparently anything goes. Darwinism leaves humanity without a moral compass.”  ― Bruce Lipton

I have often reflected upon the glaring absence of elementary core values that should be guiding us as a society.  There was a time when people were routinely schooled in moral philosophy as part of the basic educational process.  It was understood that in order to create a healthy functional social order, some common morality was necessary.  When we do not have a clear sense of where to anchor our identities or how to govern our actions, we can easily become morally adrift in a morass of ever increasing amorality and relativism (a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them).  Thanks in part to a liberal education establishment, a predominantly godless scientific community, and an agenda driven propaganda machine…err…, I mean…news media, the “sheepeople” learn all about how things are, but seldom hear how they truly ought to be.

In this the supposed era of evolutionary “enlightenment”, new age wisdom denigrates most feelings of personal guilt as nearly always undesirable or wounding – especially if they are rooted in the oppressive doctrines of one’s religious faith. Contemporary culture often maintains that an active conscience is more of a defect then an asset. If we let our conscience “beat us up” our self-esteem will suffer. Sometimes this is true, but unfortunately, it is also used as an excuse for numerous therapies, and even alcohol, drugs or extreme entertainment in an effort to thwart the directions of the moral compass and to mute the inner voice of our conscience.

Humanity is lost because people have abandoned using their conscience as their compass.” ― Suzy Kassem

No secular text book witnesses to the existence of a human conscience as does the Bible.  The Newer Testament writer Paul in a letter to Roman Christians actually criticizes those who have knowledge of the universal Law of God but willfully violate it.  In an attempt to explain how the Divine moral code works in mankind, this special messenger points to agnostics saying,

14-15 “When the Gentiles (heathen), who have no knowledge of the Law (of God), act in accordance with it (God’s Laws) by the light of nature, they show that they have a law (written) in themselves, for they demonstrate the effect of a law operating in their own hearts. Their own consciences (the voice of the human spirit) endorses the existence of such a law, for there is something which condemns or commends their actions.” (Romans 2:14-15 – PHILLIPS)

Paul believed that every human being is furnished with a copy of the Creator’s “Law” encoded in the very fabric of their being.  In essence, we are all born with a basic facility to comprehend right and wrong which then continues to develop over our lifetime as we are exposed to spiritual and moral training. Thus the inner voice of conscience can help us to judge our own thoughts and deeds, but it is limited to the highest standard of right and wrong that we recognize. Like a computer, our conscience is only as good as the programs loaded into its memory. Trained correctly, our moral compass will harmonize with the “Law of God” that is written in our heart (encoded in our spiritual DNA) and that inner voice will function as a reliable, albeit not infallible, guide. Otherwise, without proper moral and spiritual training, as they say in computer jargon, “put garbage in – get garbage out.”

I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I think that’s a good way to calibrate your moral compass.” ― Margo MacDonald

Sometimes people will suppress or ignore the voice of conscience by playing the blame game to sidestep accountability or to excuse reprehensible behaviors. And of course, the largely godless psychological community has conveniently re-branded “sin” with clinical terms like condition, disorder or disease. This attempt to placate the conscience by treating the symptoms instead of the root cause (sin) is sheer folly.  The Newer Testament writer Paul once shared this insightful wisdom in a letter to his good friend Titus,

15 “Everything is wholesome to those who are themselves wholesome. But nothing is wholesome to those who themselves are unwholesome and who have no faith in God—their very minds and consciences are diseased. 16They profess to know God, but their actual behavior denies their profession, for they are obviously vile and rebellious and when it comes to doing any real good they are palpable frauds.” (Titus 1:15-16 – PHILLIPS)

As you can see, it is possible for people to become so corrupted that their conscience finally falls silent. Without a functioning inner moral compass they are left to navigate blindly the treacherous waters of life. Paul called these people out for what they had become – diseased in mind and conscience.  You claim to know God he said, but your actual behavior exposes your assertion as nothing but a lie. Vile and rebellious is how he dismisses them. In another letter addressed to his friend and colleague Timothy, Paul said,

1-2 “God’s Spirit specifically tells us that in later days there will be men who abandon the true faith and allow themselves to be spiritually seduced by teachings of the evil one, teachings given by men who are lying hypocrites, whose consciences are as dead as seared flesh.” (1 Timothy 4:1-2 – PHILLIPS)

The warning is clear – erroneous “spiritual instruction, and the depraved influences of relaxed social mores can overtake your mind and degrade your moral compass.  That is why, as a Christian, my standard of absolute truth is always the ancient scriptural texts found in the Bible. I have learned that a regular diet of these time worn “Truths” will strengthen a weak conscience and help contain an overactive one.  Again, turning to the pen of the Newer Testament writer Paul,

18-20 “Timothy my son, I give you the following charge. (And may I say, before I give it to you, that it is in full accord with those prophecies made at your ordination which sent you out to battle for the right armed only with your faith and a clear conscience. Some, alas, have laid these simple weapons (faith and a clear conscience) contemptuously aside and, as far as their faith is concerned have run their ships on the rocks…” (1 Timothy 1:18-20)

How do we end up shipwrecked? It happens when we lay aside our faith in the Almighty and disregard the voice of our human spirit (conscience). It takes faith and a clear conscience to walk confidently in this world. Every day, I look for ways to strengthen my sense of right and wrong so that I can enjoy the freedom and blessings of a clear conscience before God and man.

I really love the redemptive message of the Liberator Jesus. He visited earth to seek out, forgive and salvage a lost, blinded and desperate human race. He did not come to start a religion, but rather to launch a spiritual revolution. If the same Divine Spirit that was alive in Jesus is truly living in those who have been called and chosen (Romans 8:9-11), that Divine Spirit will also speak to our human spirit (conscience) and guide us into all that is true. And when this life is over, He will be there to guide us home.  Ponder that.  Oh, and in the meantime, listen to your conscience, okay?

Love ya’!

Almighty Creator, speak to our inner most being today. Call those who now have ears to hear and reveal your plan to them. Help them to find freedom in the message and the person of our Liberator Jesus. Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal JunkieTM, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
I believe in the sun when it’s not shining, I believe in love even when I feel it not, I believe in God even when he is silent.” – Author Unknown

I got a little tearful today.  In public, no less. Relaxing by the Gulf waters here on Florida’s West Coast, I was watching the pelicans perform their aerial ballet; endlessly swooping down from the pilings to dive for their daily bread.  In spite of the peaceful surroundings, my mind was busy sorting through the details of the latest tragedy to dominate the news cycles and the inevitable discourse in the arena of public debate.  That’s when it happened.  I could not help myself.  The salty pools filled my eyes as I softly whispered “Where are you God?  Why do you remain so silent?”  I know better than to ask that question, but I still do it.

A friend of mine lost a loved one to the Grim Reaper this week.  Through sorrow and tears he posted this observation on social media:

“It always seems to feel like a defeat when we pray and the outcome does not change.  It is hard to understand why.  But, God says to pray and that is what we are to do even if His plan is different from our own…” 

I understand his frustration.  It is difficult to see the goodness of God when we feel like He has let us down.  But has He really failed us?  I think not.  Still, that’s how it feels sometimes.

Musician and author Andrew Peterson said it well in a song entitled, “The Silence of God”, penned in 1998:

“It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God.”*

Wow.  Moaning for some comfort, and the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God.   I’ve been there a time or three myself.  If you are a contemplative type, just nod your head, as I am sure you have experienced the frustration of unanswered prayer as well.

Clearly, unless God chooses to explain Himself to us, which quite often He does not, His motivation and purposes are beyond the reach of mortal man.” James Dobson

Have you ever felt like God was playing hard to get?  I sure have. I’ve become angry and cursed when my prayers were not answered (or more truthfully, when I didn’t like the answer). I’ve walked through many a valley and spent seasons in the spiritual desert.  I’ve doubted God and even wondered if He really exists.  In those desperate moments, as far as I was concerned, God had let me down.

“Oh but brother, God will never let you down.  Just keep on waiting.  Hang in there.  Don’t go by feelings.  Doubt your doubts…not your faith.  Seek the Lord.  Keep on believing.  Call those things which are not as though they were…”

Thank you.  I’ve heard all that a thousand times before, and for the record, I agree.   Yes indeed, no matter how unbearable my problems seem to be, “…Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27b) The power of the Almighty can still heal the woes of mankind today – including yours and mine. But knowing that truth does not mean we will never feel cast off.

Tell me, what happens when you are sitting at lunch with someone who looks you straight in the eye, struggling to hold back tears, and they say,

“I love God. I go to church and I even tithe. I talk to the Lord regularly about the things that weigh heavy on me. In my prayers, I ask… I seek… I knock. Then I wait and wait and wait some more. In the end, God remains silent. He takes no action that I can see. Instead, the awful often happens. I am hurt and angry. I don’t understand why he chooses not do things that seem so clearly right to me. Why doesn’t God keep His word like the preacher said He would? What happened to all those exceeding great and precious promises that I read about in His book?” I’m confused and empty inside. God has forsaken me.

Clearly this is a sincere human being who is very disillusioned. From where he sits, it feels like God has left the building. And he is not alone.

  • “Why did I pray so intently for my husband’s healing… and he died?”
  • “Why did I ask God for a child for twenty years… but I never conceived?”
  • “Why didn’t the Lord help me raise the money to save my home?
  • “If God is so good, why is His world so miserable and unhappy?”

There are no easy answers to any of these questions or countless others like them.  The uncooked concerns of real life are painful to confront. It’s easier to suffer in silence as we live under the pretense that everything is going to be just fine. We keep telling ourselves, “God is going to make all this crummy stuff disappear one day soon and everything will be much better.”  What happens when “someday soon” never seems to come?

Hiding your hurt, anger, and disappointment behind facades of God-speak and mechanical piety is poison to the soul. Your spirit slowly fills with a contagion that destroys your genuine faith in God.  If perception is your reality, then I might as well just say it; from where some of you sit right now, it sure appears that God has gone silent.

But here is what I believe; it’s your imperfect expectations of God that have been dashed upon the rocks of disappointment. And now, it’s hard to navigate the waves of this life with a faith that has run aground.

Let’s talk.

When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is… Remember, the teacher is always quiet during a test.” – Author Unknown

Unconsciously, we absorb many erroneous and unconfirmed “facts” about the Almighty in the course of a lifetime. We read books about what He (supposedly) has promised to do for us whenever we pray. All of the sermons, seminars, and a million casual conversations have molded our interpretation of what we can expect from the Creator. Some of these expectations are spot-on. Some are not. The trouble begins when things don’t go the way we believe they should.   Uncertainty and hesitation starts to replace our confidence in the plan of God.   Over time, our faith may even grow steadily weaker.

Actually, it is okay if you occasionally feel like God has grown silent and even turned a deaf ear in your direction. It can really have a positive effect on your spiritual growth.  Why?  Because when God appears to be silent:

  • We tend to cry out to Him more frequently and with greater intensity.
  • We listen more carefully for His still small voice whispering to our spirit.
  • We realize that the well intentioned advice of “others” sometimes just isn’t good enough.

If it seems like God is just not there for you, or worse, like He doesn’t care – consider this: In the Bible, Joseph waited 13 years, Abraham waited 25 years, and Moses waited 40 years for the clear direction and purpose of God to unfold in their lives. If God is making you wait, you’re in good company.

Look, when you’re suffering the silence of God – take a deep breath, have a good cry, scream out loud if it will make you feel better, but don’t give up. In reality, the Creator is never truly silent or absent from our lives – it just appears that way.  I know this both from experience, and because He so plainly promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), and His word is always good.

Do me a favor, listen carefully as I recap some important spiritual realities that you may or may not have learned on your journey thus far:

  • Life on earth isn’t fair and you cannot change that.  Get over it and move on.
  • Praying to God isn’t a mystical process for getting things to go your way every time.
  • Pain and struggle cannot be removed with a quick plea of faith and a votive candle.  Generally, our Creator doesn’t wave a supernatural God wand and instantly change things just because you think He should.
  • God exists outside of our dimension and, because we are chained to the illusionary ticking of the clock, He will often seem to move agonizingly slow in our present reality.

One day, a long time ago, when the great Liberator Jesus walked the earth, He encounter a man who had struggled for many years.  His son was a mute, and prone to awful seizures which were attributed to demonic possession.  The man had tried everything to help the boy to no avail.  Until one fateful day when the Liberator Jesus said to him,

19 “…Bring the boy to me.”  20 So they brought the boy, but when he saw Jesus, the demon convulsed the child horribly, and he fell to the ground writhing and foaming at the mouth.

21 “How long has he been this way?” Jesus asked the father.

And he replied, “Since he was very small, 22 and the demon often makes him fall into the fire or into water to kill him. Oh, have mercy on us and do something if you can.”

23 “If I can?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if you have faith.”

24 The father instantly replied, “I do have faith; oh, help me to have more!” (Mark 9:19-24)

It is easy to say “I believe in God” or “I have faith” when your life is sailing along on an even keel.  But when that “trust” is severely put to the test, then what?  Perhaps it takes those seasons in the wilderness, suffering the silence of God, for us to come face to face with the doubt and unbelief that still lurks within our own human spirit.  And just like that father who cried out in despair “I do have faith; oh, help me to have more”, we too may need assistance believing from time to time.

Just remember, God is listening – even when it seems like He isn’t.  The Biblical writer Paul told the faith community in Rome, 28And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.  (Romans 8:28 TLB)   Humanly speaking, your present circumstances may seem unbearable and impossible to overcome, “but with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26)  I really do believe that.  I do, I do, and I do!  Lord, help us in those silent moments of doubt and despair.  Strengthen our spirit so that we might have more faith in you.  Amen.

*P.S.  Listen to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cY4SJ_aBnY

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal JunkieTM, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy.  But being a genuine Christian, now that’s a tough call.  Actually, that’s called rebellion.” ― Alice Cooper ―

I am a bit of a rebel.  Some say it’s in my genes. Actually, I can be rebellious in dress trousers too (groan…).  Nonconformity just comes natural to me. Mama says that I just never was a very good jack-in-the-box.

Perhaps I should define my use of the term rebel, lest you think that I am some sort of nefarious reprobate.  By simple definition a Rebel is someone who resists or defies authority or convention. Since I tend to obey the laws of the land, you will rarely, if ever, find me in open defiance of duly constituted authority.  I often disagree with the policies and practices of government, but I’m not a law breaker.  I am, however, an iconoclast – a freethinker who often questions the status quo (convention). That would make me an intellectual and spiritual rebel.

I’m in good company. Take Martin Luther as an example. This rebellious reformer from the 1500’s got in the face of some pretty powerful people. He took on the religious establishment of his time. And, they didn’t like it; called him a dissident. But in reality, he was a rebel with a noble cause.

History is replete with its illustrious and infamous rogues and rebels. Names like: Alexander the Great, Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Herod, Nero, Cleopatra, William the Conqueror, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and of course the Biblical rebels like Abraham, Moses, Peter, James, John and Saul (Paul) of Tarsus.  Perhaps you’ve heard of a few?

Saint and sinner alike can be found on the list. Visionaries, revolutionaries, and creative thinkers mixed with tyrants, maniacs, scoundrels and scallywags. They all have one thing in common, somewhere along the way they defied convention, broke the rules, or took a leap of faith, and in the end made a difference that rocked their world – some for the better, and some for the worse.  That’s what rogues and rebels do.

I’ve always been independent-minded, a bit of an eccentric and a nonconformist for sure. Friends and family gave me the nickname “Maverick” decades ago.   You see, I ask lots of questions and at times discard the default patterns of modern society in favor of my deeply held values.   I even question God on occasion.  Not in an arrogant, disrespectful or unbelieving way.  That would be pointless.  I think one of the Older Testament writers put it best when he wrote,

Does a clay pot dare argue with its maker, a pot that is like all the others?  Does the clay ask the potter what he is doing?  Does the pot complain that its maker has no skill?”  (Isaiah 45:9 GNT)

Get it?  The creature doesn’t tell the Creator He got it wrong.  So, I simply accept the Master Potter’s invitations to be inquisitive. Here is one case in point found in the ancient scriptures,

2-3 “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3 MSG)

That’s what I do. I query the Almighty Creator (God), calling on Him to reveal His knowledge to me so that I may understand the meaning and purpose of my life.  It’s a tall order, but He is all-knowing, and each day brings new insight.

A creature revolting against a creator is really revolting against the source of his own powers–including even his power to revolt. It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower.” ― C.S. Lewis

When the Liberator Jesus visited this planet, He was quite a rebel Himself. His words were considered subversive as he wandered about challenging the religious authorities and their practices. It’s not a great stretch to say that He bucked the status quo. Here’s just one example,

12-17 “Jesus, accompanied by his mother, his brothers and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there a few days. The Jewish Passover was approaching and Jesus made the journey up to Jerusalem. In the Temple he discovered cattle and sheep dealers and pigeon-sellers, as well as money-changers sitting at their tables. So he made a rough whip out of rope and drove the whole lot of them, sheep and cattle as well, out of the Temple. He sent the coins of the money-changers flying and turned their tables upside down. Then he said to the pigeon-dealers, “Take those things out of here. Don’t you dare turn my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:15-17 Phillips)

Wow, beating up on people with a rope and throwing their stuff all over the place. Really?  Jesus was a Holy Rebel indeed.  Imagine if he were here today and behaved as the writer John describes.  The powers that be would undoubtedly accuse Him of having an impulse control issue. Most likely Intermittent Explosive Disorder which psychologists define as episodes of aggressive outbursts resulting in either destruction of property or physical assaults on others. Ship him right off to therapy, they would.  Rightfully so, under our laws, you just don’t do things like that.   Those were different times for sure and He was unique among mankind.

Listen to what happened when the religious establishment in ancient Jerusalem wanted to know who gave him the right to act the way he did:

 1-2 “One day he was teaching the people in the Temple, proclaiming the Message. The high priests, religion scholars, and leaders confronted him and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”

3-4 Jesus answered, “First, let me ask you a question: About the baptism of John—who authorized it, heaven or humans?”

5-7 They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know.

Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.”  (Luke 20:1-8 MSG)

Is it any wonder that they hated him? Jesus was so real, genuine, and germane to everyday life. That’s why the common people loved Him. He was brutally honest and yet tender, loving and filled with compassion. This radical revolutionary from our home world was on a mission from God. He often broke the rules of organized religion and yet he represented true justice mixed with grace. In His life on earth, Jesus lived as a radical and they put him to death as a rebel.

Today, Jesus would be considered a rebel, if not a terrorist, and definitely a threat to the establishment and the status quo ~ as he most certainly was 2000 years ago.” ― Allen L Roland, PhD

Religious jealousy and hatred toward the message the Liberator Jesus brought to mankind eventually turned to false accusation and indefensible murder.  Jesus was irrationally sentenced to death.  As he hung on the executioners cross, mankind’s brokenness reached deep within His Divine spirit. Creation was now inside the dying bosom of her creator. Gasping out his final human breaths the Liberator cries,

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)

In the closing moments of his mortal incarnate life, the Rebel Jesus identified with the forsaken human race.  Here was the Elohim – the Creator and Judge of the universe – experiencing the wrath of Divine justice toward this lost and doomed world. For a few horrific moments, He experienced the revulsion of a total disconnect from the source of pure life so that we would no longer have to live in a perpetual state of spiritual separation from our Maker.

And then, placing His spirit into the hands of an otherworldly Father, the physical Jesus died. In that solemn, sacred, blessed moment, the darkest hour of human existence was corrected as He cried, “It is finished.”  (John 19:30) The Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai, an accounting term that means “paid in full.” When Jesus uttered those words, “It is finished”, He was declaring the debt owed by mankind was expunged completely and forever.

Ladies and Gentleman; let me introduce you to the Order of the Holy Rebels (aka: genuine Christianity).  We are the followers of that marvelous incarnate Liberator who once came to the earth from a place known to us only as Heaven.  They called Him the Rebel Jesus.  To many He was nothing but a rogue, to be despised and rejected.  Only a few would welcome and receive His message.   That’s sad, because according to the ancient scriptures, 12 “…to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God.  All they needed to do is to trust him to liberate them.”  (John 1:12 TLB)

Care to join our rebellion?

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal JunkieTM, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com

 

 Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” ―  Marcus Aurelius

Albert Einstein once wrote. “Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.”

Say what?

Einstein believed that existence is singular.  For him it was always “now” with no real separation between the past and the future. In the mind of Albert Einstein, the past, present, and future all exist in parallel and any separation between them was nothing more than a convincing illusion.

Diverse thinkers throughout human history have also called “time” an illusion.  They say that time isn’t really “real” at all, just a social construct which allows us a degree of comprehension into what might otherwise be unfathomable.

Is time just an intricate illusion?  Perhaps, but we’ll leave the endless debates on that subject for the philosophers, scientists and physicists. This much I do know for sure: none of them has been able to fully answer the question, “What is time?”

Meanwhile, the perceived clock keeps right on ticking and we can neither slow down nor reverse its relentless march forward.  So, I ask myself, “Why are so many people trying (albeit in vain) to redo yesterday?”  How about you?  Stuck in the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” matrix?  

When I was a child, there was a nursery rhyme, a single quatrain, which went something like this:

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
couldn’t put Humpty back together again.”

In other words, good or bad, right or wrong, what is done is done.  In life, there are no “do-overs”.  We do not have the luxury of saying, “Gee, my life really stinks, I think I‘ll just hit the reset button, reload the software and start over from birth.”

Granted, you can change direction, take a new path, even “reinvent yourself” a time or two during your journey on spaceship earth; but once a lifetime is over, well, you are out of second (third, fourth and fifth) chances, my friend.

The average life expectancy of a newborn (2017) is about 78 years. Depending upon when you were born (and how you live), your average life expectancy may be considerably lower. But even if you were to live to be 100 years old, this question still remains: Are you taking full advantage of the finite number of years that you have?

Instead of waking up every day lamenting what you woulda, coulda, or shoulda done, why not listen to a bit of advice from this very wise Newer Testament biblical writer named Paul.  He said,

13 “…I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race of life and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to the heaven because of what Jesus the Christ did for us.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)

So let me ask you, “What are you doing with your life?”  Better yet, “what are you doing today?”  You see, moment by moment, only you can live your life.  Before you know it, time will expire (real or not).  Perhaps you had better make every second count while you still can.

Many times, the decisions you make affect and hurt your closest friends and family the most. I have a lot of regrets in that regard. But God has forgiven me, which I am very thankful for. It has enabled me to forgive myself and move forward one day at a time.” Lex Luger

My personal reference for a solid and reliable world view is rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic as revealed in the pages of Holy Scripture.  The wisdom contained within its numerous stories and illustrations helps me to see the world for what it really is.  Passages like this:

15-17”Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world-system, based as it is on men’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamor of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God’s will is part of the permanent and cannot die.” John 1:9-13 (Phillips)

Did he say, “Never give your heart over to the things of this world?”  I know, I know, that’s a pretty tall order. It requires us to guard our human spirit with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). It takes discipline to keep our mind, will and emotions (the human soul) from being enamored by the ways of this world. It means we have to place our affections on things beyond this brief space-time journey.

All earthly societies have values, principles and philosophies which form their basic organizational foundations, and we all live in these secular social systems. But what happens when the flow of earthly cultures run ever more contrary to the course of Divine order? How do we respond?  Good question.  The answer is: we defy the flow of those social structures.  No, we do not become anarchists, we simply continue to live by and follow the Divine order.

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” ― C.S. Lewis

You know what? I have given up on the practice of making New Year’s resolutions. I only end up despondent and depressed a few weeks later when I fail to live up to them. The nature of most New Year’s resolutions is inherently short-term. I prefer to set priorities for my life and then measure my progress throughout the year. How about you? Have you set any goals for the new year? Now is a great time to do so!

With that in mind, let me suggest one or two priorities that you might take under consideration.  First, get to know the Divine plan for YOUR life a little better every day. Find ways to be of service to the Almighty by exercising your talents and gifts with joy and faithfulness. “Much is expected from the one who has been given much, and the more a man is trusted with, the more people will expect of him.” (Luke 12:48)

Also, remember to fight the “Good Fight of Faith.”  Here on Spaceship Earth, our battles are against spiritual enemies (not one another). Forget society’s methods when confronting evil. The Almighty One is a boundless resource from whom we draw our strength and wisdom.  The good fight of faith requires that we know our foes and dress appropriately.  Listen to this from the Bible:

“Put on God’s complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the evil one’s methods of attack. For of all, our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still hold your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Wow.  That’s pretty radical.  But, the rebel Jesus was considered radical too.  So were all of his early disciples.   We who follow after Him today are a spiritually radical bunch also.

Anyway, good or bad, right or wrong, what is done is done – and so am I for that matter.  Just remember: yesterday is but a memory, tomorrow but a dream – now is your time.

Let’s weigh anchor mates, as we set sail for another crazy trip around the sun!

Happy New Year

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal JunkieTM, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
May the spirit of love which comes at Christmas fill our homes and our lives and linger there long after the tree is down and the lights are put away for another year.” – Thomas S. Monson –

A long time ago in a stable far, far away…

Multitudes of people around the world pause each December to observe Christmas as a religious and cultural celebration. Numerous popular customs associated with this annual holiday have evolved over hundreds of years. Today, the global Christmas season is a mixture of pagan, Christian, and secular themes.

For many, Christmas offers an opportunity for reflection on the important things in life – a time to become more interested in people and less absorbed in stuff. Christmas inspires the spirit of giving without concern for the getting. As a result, we often rediscover the happiness that comes from the joy we spark in others. And, just for a moment, the minutiae of everyday life is overshadowed by that which has true value.

For Christians, the celebration of Christmas also presents a wonderful time to stop and reflect on the extraordinary arrival of an exceptional child who was sent from another world by a Divine being who has declared himself to be the Almighty One. The Christian Christmas story can be summed up as follows:

The Creator of all things (God) desired to come into a corporal existence upon the earth. To accomplish this, the Almighty elected to take the form of a mortal (one of His own creation). God moved from a timeless dimension (eternity) into the realm of the temporal (time). He picked a young virgin girl called Mary to supernaturally impregnate. She was used as a vessel to deliver the incarnate God-man into this world. All of this was explained to her in a visitation which she received from an otherworldly envoy (commonly called an Angel) prior to the pregnancy. Thus, the Creator entered this world as the man-child called Jesus.

Christmas celebrates this supernaturally orchestrated birth. Jesus lived on the earth for about 30 years before embarking on His mission – to seek out and salvage His stranded creation which had gone astray. This is why He is called the Liberator (aka Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, Rescuer, etc.) To expunge these facts from the Christian celebration of Christmas is impossible, and yet, our contemporary secular festival has become nothing more than a distant cousin to the pagan celebrations (winter solstice, Saturnalia, etc.) from which many historians believe it was first derived.

Just ask a random sampling of today’s general populace to define Christmas; you will hear words like Santa Claus, Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, Black Friday and the like. Descriptions of brightly decorated homes, holiday parties and of course the iconic Christmas tree also top the list of images that are used to paint the modern Christmas picture. But none of this imagery is to be found in the original Biblical narrative concerning the birth of the Christ child.

Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.” – Author Unknown

Angels and Shepherds, on the other hand, do have a prominent role in the Christian Christmas chronicle. Messengers from another world were sent to proclaim the arrival of the Liberator on earth. Picture if you will a group of sheep herders passing the night in an open field. Suddenly pandemonium breaks loose.

Here is the scene as described in the Biblical Book of Luke:

8-14 “There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by their side, the splendor of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror-stricken. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy which is for all the people. This very day, in David’s town, a Savior has been born for you. He is Christ, the Lord. Let this prove it to you: you will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger. And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!” – Luke 2:8-14 (Phillips)

In my mind, I see the shepherds relaxing by a warm crackling fire. The night was calm, and the sky was bright. But then, suddenly, an otherworldly entity (Angel) burst on the scene and shook up everything. In fact, the sky then filled with these strange visitors. When that happened, the shepherds freaked out. Wouldn’t you? They weren’t just unnerved; the Bible says they were, “terror-stricken!” I guess so. Notice what the Angelic being said to them, “Be not afraid.”

Talk about making a scene; the spectacle in the skies that night was not only remarkable, it also scared the living daylights out of those that witnessed the event. It was a good kind of fear, though. In the Older Testament of the Bible, King Solomon said, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” I think they all experienced the fear of God that night.

Oddly, nothing has changed really. The story of Christmas still frightens people today – but not for the same reason. These days, it is facing the reality of Jesus himself that alarms people. Just the mention of His name creates incredible anxiety in some individuals.

The Scriptures are very important to Christmas. For unto us a child was born, and we should be reminded of how Jesus’s amazing journey came to be.” – Monica Johnson

Think about how the Newer Testament writer Matthew describes Jesus:

23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

Matthew shamelessly declares that Jesus is God in human form. He refers to him as Immanuel. This is perhaps the greatest title that Scripture ascribes to this supernatural God-man. After all, He didn’t simply arise as a mere self-proclaimed religious leader or declare Himself a great prophet that was a cut above the others. Neither did he come as a social reformer. Jesus came as Immanuel – God in human flesh. Isn’t that brilliant? Almighty God arrives from another dimension (the place we simply refer to as Heaven) to live on the earth as the son of man (inside of a being he engineered)!

And what about this foretelling statement from the prophet Isaiah as recorded in the Older Testament of the Bible:

6 “For to us a Child will be born. To us a Son will be given. And the rule of the nations will be on His shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Teacher, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

Listen, the nations of this world might tolerate a cute diminutive story about a sweet little baby in a straw-filled feeding-box, but they will hardly accept titles bestowed upon him like, “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”

When as Christians we affirm these crowning designations ascribed to Jesus, we’re acknowledging that He is infinitely greater than anyone on the earth. It means we accept Him as the highest authority in life. This is why we are willing to place our absolute trust in Him. It is also why we are willing to obey His every word. And that is what alarms (and terrifies) this present world order about Jesus and His followers.

The fear of confronting the “real” Jesus is not a new phenomenon. When a group of distinguished foreigners (the Magi) from the East eventually found their way to Jerusalem looking for the young child Jesus they asked King Herod,

2 “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2:2 (NIV)

Do you know how King Herod and the religious people of that day reacted when queried by these visiting ancient astrologers?

3 “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him.” – Matthew 2:3 (NIV).

Jesus is still disturbing people today.  Let’s face it, He was no ordinary mortal. His arrival on the earth was both foretold and revealed to many in the times leading up to his extraordinary birth. He was Immanuel (God in the form of a man), and once here, it wasn’t possible to control Him! That’s why all the insults, accusations, and even death couldn’t stop Him. In fact, it was not until Jesus was ready to die that He allowed Himself to be taken and put to death. Listen to what he said,

18 “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” – John 10:18 (NLB)

Immanuel appeared on earth to follow a Divine blueprint for the reclamation of humanity. His death was part of that plan. Here is how Jesus Himself described it,

23-24 “… I must fall and die like a kernel of wheat that falls into the furrows of the earth. Unless I die I will be alone—a single seed. But my death will produce many new wheat kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” – John 12:23-24

Death was not the end of Jesus; it was the birth of a new “kingdom” whose builder and maker is the Creator himself (God). That kingdom is here now and it is irrepressible! That is why the spirit of this world (antichrist) fears Him so! Go ahead, deny him if you like, and hate him if it makes you feel good, pretend he never existed; you cannot extinguish the penetrating light of his message. The Newer Testament writer John expressed it this way,

4-5 “In him (Jesus) appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.” – John 1:4-5 (Phillips)

Remember those shepherds we talked about earlier? After the angelic messenger from another world came to them and announced the birth of Immanuel (God with us), they were scared and bewildered! So, what did those sheep herders do? Deny the reality of what they heard and saw? Run away and hide? Let their family and friends convince them that they had too much Manischewitz or Mogen David that night? Absolutely NOT!

Here’s what the New Testament writer Luke says they did,

15 “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”. – Luke 2:15 (NIV)

Incredibly enough the shepherds, in spite of being terrified and confused, searched for the truth! They went to find this “Savior” whose birth was revealed to them in their amazing visitation. Doubtful they understood that this innocent baby, born in obscurity, would one day grow up and traverse their cities and towns exposing them to the truth that would set them free!

God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God’s work to save the world.” – Adam Hamilton

Today, when the Spirit of Jesus (in transcendent form) enters a human soul, His kingdom continues to expand, one disciple at a time. The Scriptures even predict that there will come a time when, “the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” – (Habakkuk 2:14)

Before our liberator returned to the timeless dimension from which he came, He promised that in the form of a Divine Spirit, He would always be with us and that one day He would physically return again.  The Newer Testament writer John recorded these words spoken to him by Jesus in a vision. They are found in the last section of the Bible known as The Book of Revelation,

20 “See, I stand knocking at the door. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will go into his house…” – Revelation 3:20 (Phillips)

So what have we learned? The almighty Creator paid a visit to this tiny insignificant spec of a world in the vastness of a universe that he created in order to seek and to rescue a lost and stranded people. It was a salvage mission. A mission of mercy, motivated by perfect love.  You know what? I’m really glad He salvaged me. He’d also like to reclaim you.  Jesus is standing at the door of your life today.  All you have to do is open up your heart and invite Him in.  Hope you will.

Merry Christmas my friends.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.  He is also
the founder of Living faith Christian Fellowship, Inc., and the Coastal JunkieTM, LLC.
The intellectual property published above is © 2017 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal JunkieTM, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
The narrow path that ‘Uncommon’ people will take, that the Lord wants you to go down, that really is the ultimate way to go.” ― Coach Tony Dungy ―

Traveling unfamiliar roads can provide many opportunities to enjoy new sights, sounds, and experiences. However, aimless wandering is not the best approach when you have a specific destination in mind – especially if you’re running late. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting lost, or worse, not knowing where you are going in the first place. This is also true in life and in death. Let’s talk.

Thomas Clayton Wolfe, an American novelist of the early 20th century wrote:

“Something has spoken to me in the night…and told me that I shall one day die, I know not where. Saying: “[Death is] to lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.”

Wolfe believed that when one passes through the door of death they find greater knowledge, greater life, and greater love in a land that is more kind then our home and bigger than all the earth. Okay, but is this true? We’ll get back to that thought shortly.

I once knew a boy who was just about as carefree as youthful innocence permits. The world was his oyster and by sheer resolve he was determined to pry it open – a thousand times if necessary – to find his pearl of fortune, fame, and significance. Alas, the inequitable wickedness of the “world” fought back, eventually breaking his heart, leaving him cynical, and sometimes angry. And so the boy grew older and wearier with each passing season. Who was this poor mortal soul? It could be any one of us, I suppose. But once upon a long time ago, that boy was me.

We never know when it will happen; that instant when you see the world with such crystal clarity that you are left much sadder and yet wiser for the awareness you have gained. The worst part of it all, you can never go back to the innocence of not knowing what you have now learned. In the circle of life, as painful as it may be, we call these moments growing up.

When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The very first day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” ― Patrick Rothfuss

I remember when the Spirit of the Almighty first got my attention. Initially I resisted. I was a young man who looked to science and education for all the important answers. Religious fanatics parroting words that they could neither adequately explain nor truly exemplify in their own lives had always repulsed me.

“Please God, talk to someone else.” He would not leave me alone. The Divine Spirit made sure I heard things like,

36-38 “The man who tries to save his own life will lose it… What good can it do a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What can a man offer to buy back his soul once he has lost it?” (Excerpted from Mark 8:36-38 – J.B. Phillips)

“God,” I thought to myself, “just let me be.” The Almighty would broker no denial. There was something that I needed to hear, a message that spoke of a mysterious rescue mission motivated by a Creator’s divine love for his stranded people living on a doomed planet. His communique from another world was revealed by a liberator named Jesus who arrived on this planet with a mandate to salvage all who would answer His call. The dispatch warned of the ever present pervasive God haters who would continue to contest His very existence; endlessly attempted to bring a Humanistic global order to their dying Utopian dreams. But, His life-giving message also contained a comforting reassurance that the foolish arrogance of human wickedness would never topple the providence of an Almighty God.

And that my dear friends brings me back to the words of Thomas Clayton Wolfe, who spoke of death as a doorway to a much better place than life here on spaceship earth. Whether or not Mr. Wolfe new it, he had stumbled upon an absolute truth. Death is indeed an entrance. Find the right door, cross its wondrous threshold and you will pass into an even greater life; one that is full of timeless knowledge and absolute love.

Whenever I hear the modern discord of those who downplay or deny the importance of faith in God, and who claim that there are unlimited “pathways” to “enlightenment”, I think about these words spoken by the Creator Himself,

13 “There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. 14 Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 – The Voice)

Is that so hard to understand? There are just two paths before us. But, we only get to travel on one. Every human being will determine their ultimate (and eternal) destiny by the specific spiritual path they choose to follow. And remember, a failure to make a choice is still a choice.

It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.” ― Jean Nidetch

The Liberator Jesus spoke of two spiritual entrance points. One door is very large and by implication much easier to see and conceivably even more appealing. There is also a narrow door, not as conspicuous and doubtless less alluring.

You might be thinking, hey the easy way sounds pretty cool. A big attractive entry that opens up to reveal a sizable road that is very accommodating, easy to travel upon, and filled with all kinds of interesting pleasures and people – I’m down for that!

Not so fast… that is not the door Jesus tells us to choose. He said we’re to look for and go through the narrow gate. And, it was not a suggestion.

Of course there are reasons why He said to choose the narrow way. First, the magnificent entryway that opens up to reveal a road that is very large, accommodating, filled with the “in crowd” and easy to travel – leads to destruction. The big door and the big road are a BIG mistake! Remember, the narrow way is the true path to a genuine life.

Are you still skeptical? Look, you won’t find critical answers to existence’s most important questions on the abounding superhighways where the in crowd hangs out. For that matter, the numerous paths to spirituality or inner peace peddled in the vast marketplace of subjective religious conviction won’t cut it either.

Conversely, that narrow and often obscure little gate that opens to reveal a constricted and undeniably difficult road is the only one that promises a real life – now and forever. If we are to believe what the Liberator Jesus said, that doorway and that road is the only way that can bring us face to face with our maker.

Some will take issue with me for saying that there is a specific pathway to the Creator. Pack me off to diversity training camp they would. How could I be so intolerant? It’s simple really. I truly follow the teachings of Jesus. The author of my faith made the statements I have quoted. If I take issue with a portion of His message, why believe any of it? Jesus either spoke the absolute truth or He is a liar and Christianity is a charade. The truth is never subject to private interpretations. Like it or not, the Christian faith is anchored to this fundamental reality: Jesus the Appointed One is the door through which you access the road that leads to reclamation and a timeless afterlife.

6-7 “…I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father (God) apart from me…” (John 14:6 MSG)

To follow the Divine Spirit, the Supreme Being – the Almighty One – (He is known by many names), begins at the narrow gate and progresses along a narrow way. It is hard to find that slender gate and road. Many people will never manage to do it. In our modern times it’s considered fanatical or politically incorrect to say these things so emphatically. Say them I must! We don’t get to pick our own version of the Truth.

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” ― Led Zeppelin

Right now, you may have reached a fork in your road. Do nothing, and you’ll just keep drifting along the wide, broad, easy, crowded path that eventually leads to destruction, or you can choose to make a change by passing through that narrow gate (which we now know is the “Jesus” door) and begin to follow the road less traveled. The decision here is simple. No confusion. No overload and no donation required. Choose His way and gain a timeless life, filled with inner joy and peace. Or just keep rolling the dice and doing things your way. It’s your life, your decision, but I do hope you will choose wisely.

The Liberator Jesus is the gateway, and the path we follow to freedom and a sincere life. Sure, survival on spaceship earth will still be hard sometimes, but the Spirit of our Creator is always there to help us cope. Can’t think of anything else we need on this voyage mates. Time to cast off!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.  He is also
the founder of Living faith Christian Fellowship, Inc., and the Coastal JunkieTM, LLC.
The intellectual property published above is © 2017 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal JunkieTM, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.  It is the storm within which endangers him most, not the storm without.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am not a motion picture aficionado.  In fact, I cannot even recall the last time I went out to “the movies”.  I have a very nice home theater system and it provides me with all of the entertainment options that my heart desires – sans the huddled masses.  Needless to say, I have little to no interest in 99% of the rubbish produced by the Hollywood elite.

Recently though, I read that Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation of The Shining is considered the most popular Stephen King inspired film ever made. In the flick, well know actor Jack Nicholson plays a character named Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who accepts a job as the winter caretaker for some place in Colorado called the Overlook Hotel.  Torrance is aware that the previous caretaker had gone insane there and murdered his entire family.  Does that deter ol’ Jack from taking the job?  Naw.  In short order (this is a movie, remember) both Jack and his “psychically” gifted son are communing with the evil spirit manifesting at the Overlook.  And, you guessed it, things go from bad to worse.

I would like to submit my own movie script for the consideration of the motion picture moguls.  It is also a story of demonic possession, and it contains all of the wild, salacious, violent, and frightening elements that Hollywood loves. Here’s a plot synopsis: we begin with a naked man, living in a graveyard, scaring the bejesus out of the townspeople.  He is so powerful that chains cannot hold him.  Eventually, along comes the hero of our film who sets the possessed man free by exercising a legion of indwelling demons and sending them into a nearby herd of swine.  The pigs, rather than live full of demons, rush off, wildly plunging headlong into the sea where they drown.  Wow!

Fantasy?  Believe it or not, it actually happened a long time ago.  Here’s the historical account as written the Bible’s Newer Testament:

26 “So they arrived at the other side, in the Gerasene country across the lake from Galilee. 27 As he was climbing out of the boat a man from the city of Gadara came to meet him, a man who had been demon-possessed for a long time. Homeless and naked, he lived in a cemetery among the tombs. 28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell to the ground before him, screaming, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of God Most High? Please, I beg you, oh, don’t torment me!”

29 For Jesus was already commanding the demon to leave him. This demon had often taken control of the man so that even when shackled with chains he simply broke them and rushed out into the desert, completely under the demon’s power. 30 “What is your name?” Jesus asked the demon. “Legion,” they replied—for the man was filled with thousands of them!  31 They kept begging Jesus not to order them into the Bottomless Pit.

32 A herd of pigs was feeding on the mountainside nearby, and the demons pled with him to let them enter into the pigs. And Jesus said they could. 33 So they left the man and went into the pigs, and immediately the whole herd rushed down the mountainside and fell over a cliff into the lake below, where they drowned. 34 The herdsmen rushed away to the nearby city, spreading the news as they ran.

35 Soon a crowd came out to see for themselves what had happened and saw the man who had been demon-possessed sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet, clothed and sane! And the whole crowd was badly frightened. 36 Then those who had seen it happen told how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 And everyone begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone (for a deep wave of fear had swept over them). So he returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake.

38 The man who had been demon-possessed begged to go too, but Jesus said no.

39 “Go back to your family,” he told him, “and tell them what a wonderful thing God has done for you.”

So he went all through the city telling everyone about Jesus’ mighty miracle.” (Luke 8:26-39 TLB)

If you are at all familiar with this story, your attention has most likely been drawn to the more sensational (and supernatural) elements of the narrative. Nonetheless, be you a seasoned Bible scholar or first time reader of this Newer Testament account, let me ask you, have you ever considered the underlying fear factor?  Let’s talk.

Can you imagine a life with no fear?  What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?” – Max Lucado

Read that narrative again carefully.  With the exception of Jesus, everyone was dealing with some form of fear.  The good people of Gadara were certainly scared of their local bogeyman and later of the miracle man called Jesus.  The disciples were creeped out by the crazy guy, and even the demoniac – a deranged man who was known for his delight in frightening anyone who happened to wander by the tombs – showed fear in the presence of the great liberator.  Yes, fear factored deeply in the lives of the Gadarenes.

I’m beginning to wonder if our modern world is any different where fear is concerned.  Seems like just about everyone is a tad apprehensive these days.  How about you? What are you afraid of?  Terrorists?  Serial killers? Catastrophic storms?  Road rage?  Burglary?  Be honest.  I know people who fear they might fall into poverty, contract a terminal disease, or suffer violence at the hands of the felonious.

And what about the fear of man?  Pardon me, you’ve not heard of this?  By definition, the Fear of Man is an inner dread of rejection, ridicule, or disapproval.   Now that covers a lot of ground.  Is it any wonder that the great book of wisdom known as Proverbs declares,

“The fear of human opinion disables us; trusting in God protects you from that.” – (Proverbs 29:25 MSG)

The result of all these fears?  Survey says: we buy guns for protection, build walls, install alarms and cameras, move to gated communities, live in isolation or simply try to escape our worries through drugs, alcohol or excessive “entertainment”.  Those who suffer from the fear of man become incessant people pleasers.  And let’s not forget the biggest fear of all – Death.  That one terrifies the multitudes.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.  Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.” – Anne Frank

Sometimes I pass a familiar local bag lady on my excursions around town, disheveled, half-crazed looking and always talking to herself.  On this particular day, licking wounds from one of my own mental scuffles, I thought to myself, “At least I’m not her.”   After all, “She’s plain nutty.” And then it hit me; there but for the grace of God, go I.  When you stop to think about it, she wanders the streets in open turmoil talking to herself out loud.  My relentless self-dialogue is kept bottled up inside.  Are we any less tormented because we can manage to contain our fears better than her?  And therein lies the problem; we are not supposed to contain fear at all.

The Newer Testament writer Paul once wrote a letter to his young friend Timothy saying,

7 “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

The Living Bible translation of this verse reads:

“For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 TLB)

Like today, there was much to fear in those ancient times.  But Paul reminded Timothy that an enlightened child of God is given the powerful Spirit of love and sanity to replace the demonic spirit of excessive uncertainty (fear) and madness.

Another Biblical writer named John put it like this:

 18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.”  (1 John 4:18)

 So the Divine Spirit replaces our fears with His powerful love and clarity.  When we experience the “perfect love” that IS, and comes from the Almighty One, the fear factor cannot control our lives – unless, of course, we allow it to do so.

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure to it. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” -Helen Keller

We all wrestle with fear and doubt from time to time.  Honestly, I do not believe that true mental and spiritual freedom is possible as long as we run from our uncertainties or simply pretend that they do not exist.  Why not face your fears and take a good look at what troubles you.  Do it now.  When you finally see that mess before you; that frightened little inner child that has become so proficient at the game of pretense, remember this: there is an all-consuming Spirit of mercy and grace who can help.  All He asks of you is honest humility in facing who you really are.  I like what a very early follower of the Galilean Prophet wrote in a letter that eventually became the Bible’s Newer Testament book of 1st Peter:

6-7 “So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties (fears) upon him, for you are his personal concern.”  (1 Peter 5:6-7 PHILLIPS)

It is no easy task to practice genuine spiritual humility.  Placing our lives in the hands of an invisible entity (God) does not come natural to a fallen, spiritually deadened race of beings who are deceived, distracted and hopelessly stranded on a dying home world.  Do you have the courage to let the liberating Spirit of truth (Jesus) call out and name your demons?  Are you ready to replace your broken paradigms – even if that means leaving behind everything that does not conform to the “Way, Truth, and Life?”  Then take my hand friend, let’s walk on the wild side together and watch as the god of our egos – driven by our fears – is replaced with the God of compassion driven by perfect love.  What do you have to loose – except your life among the walking dead?  Today, the Creator of all things, the Divine Spark, and our Kinsman Redeemer invites you to abandon the fear factors controlling your life by fearlessly reaching out to Him.  I hope you will.

Almighty Creator, I am asking you to make the reality of your presence known to my friends today.  Help them to release their fears to you.  Let them know you are with them, so that they can find liberation in the message and mission of the man we call Jesus – the one you once sent on a rescue mission to free the captives on spaceship earth.  Amen

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
and the founder of Living faith Christian Fellowship, Inc. and the Coastal JunkieTM, LLC.
The intellectual property published above is © 2017 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
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