Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

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
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.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
Throughout your life, people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, because in the end, hate in your heart will consume you.” ― Will Smith

In the 1983 Sci-Fi film Star Wars Episode VI: Return of The Jedi, there is a scene in which the evil Emperor Palpatine attempts to persuade young Luke Skywalker to join The Dark Side.  Emperor “evil personified” speaks these oft’ quoted words:  “Good, good, let the hate flow through you.”

In the fantasy world of Star Wars, hate as well as other darker emotions (fear, anger, and aggression) allows one to tap into the “power of the dark side”.

Mere make-believe you say?  Perhaps, but only a fool would deny the profound dark side that grips our world today.  The insidious spread of malevolence which regularly disrupts the peaceful fabric of our social order is seemingly rooted and grounded in HATRED.  Maybe the late Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s observation in his 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” was correct.  He wrote:

“And in despair I bowed my head; ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said; for hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear of some horrendous act spurred on by hate.  The vitriol of hatred can divide friends, family, a nation and the world. Hate destroys.  People who are filled with hatred look upon life through a jaundice eye of extreme disdain. Fueled by this odium, they often passionately spew discord – even hostility – that is forged in the narrow-minded fires of resentment, distrust, bigotry, and contempt.

Hate is widespread in our modern culture. Racial, ethnic, homophobic, religious and social class hatred is everywhere. You name it and someone, somewhere probably HATES it with a passion.

I’m no saint (far from it), but I can honestly say that I have never – even in anger – said with passion, I hate you to anyone. Sadly, I’ve been on the receiving end of those three terrible words more than I care to remember. The wounds heal with time, but they leave little telltale scars.

Every now and then I laugh when stepping out of the shower (no, not from seeing myself in a mirror).  My eyes catch a glimpse of a very weird little tattoo forever engraved on my glorious sun kissed body. It’s ever there to mock me, a permanent reminder of a brief youthful impulse. Thankfully, I had it positioned where the sun doesn’t shine. My “body art” means nothing to me now, nevertheless I will always bear its mark. Hate is a lot like my tattoo. The wicked ink of hatred forever scars the human soul.

Why all the hate anyway? Does hate resolve problems? Tell me the last time hatred brought about unity or positive change? Have you ever met a truly “happy hater”?  I don’t think so.

This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Frequent readers already know that I’m a follower of the great teacher and redeemer known by the human name “Jesus”. I believe in His message and His mission.  My faith is much more than a mere “religion” – it is my way of life.  Some people have a real problem with that – even to the point of hatred. How bizarre, considering that in most cases, we’ve never spoken nor met. But they have already formed an opinion based upon their biased ideas about Christianity (or religion in general).

My worldview is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic which influences and shapes my character.  When I encounter anything that clearly opposes these values – I choose to reject it.  It’s not open for debate. Genuine “truth” is neither erasable nor amendable.  You will never convince me that some of the clear instructions of Jesus, for instance, need to be modified or repealed.  Contrary to the opinions of pop culture, the ancient scriptures do not need to be “updated”, they need to be revisited.

Genuine Biblical Christianity is defined by a system of well-worn spiritual and moral beliefs, rooted and grounded in the Newer Testament writings.  Believers hold these “truths” to be absolute (i.e. set in stone). They are a filter through which we scrutinize this present-day world system. I dissect the philosophies and traditions of its various peoples, organizations, religions and (especially) governments by the principles and precepts found in the sacred writings of contained in the Bible. This does not make me better than or superior to anyone, but neither does it make me a hate filled narrow-minded intolerant bigot.

I have never burned the Koran. I’m not a homophobic crusader.  You will never find me yelling horrible things at frightened young women going into abortion clinics, and I have never stood on a street corner holding placards that condemn every passing motorist to an eternity in hell because of their sinfulness. Forcing others to accept my way “or else” has never even entered my mind.  In fact, it never entered Jesus’ mind either.  He merely spoke the truth and warned of the penalties associated with its rejection.  I’ve made my choices in life; you must make yours, and we’ll each live with the interminable consequences.

Truthfully, there will be times when I cannot accept a political, moral, or lifestyle position simply because you think I should. Being true to my heartfelt convictions is not the same as intolerance or hatred. Even the “Lex terrae” (Law of the Land), if it is contrary to the clear teachings of scripture, may need to be defied if that law ever put me in direct disobedience to the higher laws of our Creator.

Listen, I am really sorry for all of the misinformed zealots, and assorted religious wackos you may have encountered over the years. I’ve run into a few of them myself. If ignorance is bliss, some have truly reached “nirvana.”  It saddens me when I see so-called “followers of Jesus” attack and insult the very people whom they are called to love.  I readily concede that any supposed Christian who lives as a self-righteous, prideful and hate-filled bully is a blight on the fruit of genuine truth.  I can’t do anything about them or your unfortunate experiences with them.  It’s not my monkey, not my circus, Okay?  Please, don’t hate nor reject the Almighty One, or me, because of them.

You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people that you do.” ― Anne Lamotte

Historically, organized Religion (including Christianity) has always been a bit of a mess.  That’s what happens when flawed and inadequate humans attempt to communicate a message of Divine origin.

I have spent most of my adult life learning about and sharing the way, the truth and the life of the Liberator Jesus. It has been quite an adventure for me.  Mind blowing really.  I’ve discovered that when this other worldly being emerged here on spaceship earth, He claimed to have been sent to mankind from the designer of all things (GOD).  He said that he took on human form to communicate with people in a relevant and understandable way.  As a prophet and teacher, He familiarized mankind with the source of their existence. His message was rooted in perfect love – not tolerance, as there is a huge difference. Jesus was not politically correct, and He often offended more people than I ever will. He was despised and rejected by the mainstream during His time on earth, but he readily identified with those who faced rejection, sorrow and grief. Finally, He was put to death at the hands of a vengeful and hate filled people.   Incredibly, the grave could not hold him.  His well-documented resurrection vindicated everything He taught. This humble man of sorrows overcame the hatred of ignorant humanity, and his Spirit continues to offer forgiveness and acceptance to all who answer the call.  But that is what unpretentious love always does, right?

Look, I may not agree with nor be able to accept your way of life or your viewpoints.  You can reject me and everything I believe too. We may even oppose one another outright in the marketplace of ideas. I will still choose to love you as a human being and that love comes without conditions.

Maybe you’re just not sure what to believe in these senseless days.  Here’s something from the Newer Testament writings of Paul that I would really like to share with you:

12-15 “You should therefore be most careful, my brothers, that there should not be in any of you that wickedness of heart which refuses to trust, and deserts the cause of the living God. Help each other to stand firm in the faith every day, while it is still called “today”, and beware that none of you becomes deaf and blind to God through the delusive glamor of sin. For we continue to share in all that Christ has for us so long as we steadily maintain until the end the trust with which we began. These words are still being said for our ears to hear: ‘Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’.” – Hebrews 3:12-15 – J.B. Phillips New Testament

Our Creator is in conflict with all forms of depravity and wickedness. Thankfully, the Almighty can separate sin from the sinner. Some say it this way; God hates the sin but loves the sinner. I like to say; God loves us even when we do things that He doesn’t like at all. Either way, one fact will never change; when we admit our faults to this great God, He is faithful and unbiased in forgiving our shortcomings and failures.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr

But do keep this in mind, the perfect love and flawless justice of the Almighty One will one day compel Him to keep his word and banish the impenitent portion of mankind into perdition – not because of what you have done (sin), but because you would not accept what He has done through this man called Jesus.  “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”

Wherever you are on this crazy rock floating in the infinity of space, He’s there with you right now to throw you a rescue line. Don’t ask me to explain how or why. Who cares! He is with you now. All you have to do is trust Him. Go ahead, speak to Him. He can take it from here. He doesn’t need my help to open your heart and change your life for the better. He never did.  I’m simply one of His diplomats.

Oh, one more thing, Longfellow closed his 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” with these words:

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Hatred is evil and like all wickedness, it will eventually fail. Love will triumph over hate.  Did you hear me? LOVE RULES!  Remember this,

16b-18 God is love, and the man whose life is lived in love does, in fact, live in God, and God does, in fact, live in him. So our love for him grows more and more, filling us with complete confidence for the day when he shall judge all men—for we realize that our life in this world is actually his life lived in us. Love contains no fear—indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.” (1 John 4:16-18 – Phillips)

Almighty Creator, I ask that you would help those who have read my words to reach out to you. May their eyes be opened so they too can see Jesus who came to our earth, taking human form to show us the way home again. Forgive them as they acknowledge they are no more than an outlaw who desperately needs your favor and forgiveness. As they open their heart to you, let them find the peace and joy that comes to those who are born again in spirit and set free from all hate by the truth. I ask this in Jesus name. 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.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com

 

Mankind, by the perverse depravity of their nature, regards that which they have most desired as of no value the moment it is possessed, and torment themselves with fruitless wishes for that which is beyond their reach.” – Francois Fenelon

Charles Dickens was a 19th century author who has been acknowledged by critics and scholars alike as a literary genius. Some even regard him as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.  Did you know that he had very little formal education?  It’s true.  He left school at age 15 and began working as a clerk in a solicitor’s office after his father was thrown into a debtors’ prison.   Remarkably, Charles would go on to write 15 novels, hundreds of short stories, non-fiction articles, and letters.  His immortal tale of ghosts and redemption know as A Christmas Carol, first appeared in in 1843, and remains a perennial holiday favorite to this day.   Moreover, A Tale of Two Cities, written in 1859, and from which I shall now quote, is perhaps his best-known work of historical fiction:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity (unbelief), it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Dickens was writing about the disturbing state of affairs which existed in 18th century England, and France.  If you even pay nominal attention to the crumbling state of affairs in our modern social order, then maybe you’ll appreciate the pertinence of his words almost two and a half centuries later.

Since this is not an English Lit class, nor am I a literary scholar, let me simply summarize the observations of Dickens like this: it was a time of contradictions – wisdom and foolishness, faith and disbelief, light and darkness, hope and despair.  Welcome to the timeless human dilemma – the more things change, the more they remain the same.  Take for instance the tyranny of discontent.

On a recent flight from Hartford, Connecticut to Tampa Bay, Florida, I patiently listened as the man seated next to me spoke of his very successful life.  William, (not his real name) seemed to have everything.  He talked about his beautiful home in an upscale neighborhood, complete with a 12 seat man cave/home theater, wine cellar, custom designer swimming pool, professional tennis courts and an outdoor entertainment area with a fully equipped kitchen.  Bill showed me a picture of his lovely wife, said she was beautiful inside and out.  He had a daughter whom he described as amazing, talented and attractive.  Bill played golf, owned a boat and dined at the finest restaurants.  Yes indeed, he was a genuine gentleman of leisure.  I said. “Bill, you sure seem like a man who is abundantly blessed, and very content”.  The silent pregnant pause that followed was deafening.  “That’s what’s missing in my life you know”, he said, “I am restless and never content for very long.”  How sad.

Bill is not unique when it comes to discontent.  Rich, poor, young, old, male and female – countless people feel that there is something missing from their lives. As a result, they are frustrated and dissatisfied.

Call it the funk.  Call it the blues, Call it anything you like.  Getting stuck in a “rut” of discontent is anything but fun.  And yet, we’ve all been there.  Sometimes, life can actually seem just a wee bit boring, even become stale, and monotonous.  You know, the same old dull routines.  That’s normal.  But what happens when you are never satisfied?  Let’s talk.

Real contentment must come from within. You and I cannot change or control the world around us, but we can change and control the world within us.” – Warren Wiersbe

I can’t remember exactly when it happened to me.  Actually, it wasn’t a singular epiphany at all.  Over many years I gradually came to realize that my periods of discontent were actually a series of personal wakeup calls.  We all get them you know, and more often than you think.  But far too many of us just choose to keep hitting the snooze button when they come, or worse – we ignore the wakeup calls completely.  Sooner or later you will either have to confront the root cause of chronic dissatisfaction, perhaps even change some things in your life or you’ll continue to exist within the disturbing realm of discontent.

Once, I lived in my own deluded world where debt, duty and a desk ruled my life.  Searching for inner contentment, I switched careers a number of times; worked for myself, and even went to work for “God” (professionally speaking).  Over time, life became stable, predictable, and comfortable enough.  But something wasn’t quite right.  Deep down inside, I was still a malcontent.  After years of hitting the snooze button, and blaming everyone and everything around me for my restlessness, it dawned on me: I wasn’t really grasping what I was put here on spaceship earth to do.  I had a “God smack” moment – and I didn’t like it at all.  But it did lead me to one great realization: only the Creator Himself can fill the spiritual void inside of me.  Until I let Him invade my life, contentment would never last for very long.  Guess what?  I let Him in.

Now here’s the dichotomy: before I could move beyond my discontent, I had to absorb what it really meant to be contented.  I’ve yet to grasp it perfectly, but I keep pressing on toward that mark.  I learned how to do this from a man named Saul who, like me, was a devotee of the liberator Jesus.  Heard of him?  You can read all about his life in the Bible’s Newer Testament Book of ACTS.

Saul was a Jew, born in the Roman city of Tarsus somewhere between 5 BC and 10 AD.  After quite a dramatic supernatural encounter with the Creator (the Spirit of the resurrected Jesus) he became known as “the Apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), It was then that he began to use his Roman name, Paul.

Before his “conversion”, Saul was a fiercely religious zealot known for his relentless persecution of the early Christian movement. He was passionate for his Jewish faith to the point of becoming a religious terrorist.  Saul believed that he was doing the will of the Lord by killing innocent people. Here is how the Bible describes it:

3 “Paul was like a wild man, going everywhere to devastate the believers, even entering private homes and dragging out men and women alike and jailing them.” (Acts 8:3 TLB)

That all changed when Saul got his “wakeup call”.  You can read the full account in the Newer Testament Book of Acts 9:1-22.  It turned his life upside down.  He would spend the rest of his days on spaceship earth as the Apostle Paul, proclaiming a message of hope and redemption throughout the Roman world.  He often claimed to have received his message by supernatural visitations.  Through tremendous hardship and suffering he remained steadfast and unmovable in his faith until they finally put him to death.  But how did he stay so hopeful and full of joy?  Glad you asked.  What he learned and what he helped me to comprehend is revolutionary.  You ready for it?

11I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to get along with little and how to live when I have much. I have learned the secret of being happy at all times. If I am full of food and have all I need, I am happy. If I am hungry and need more, I am happy. 13 I can do all things because God gives me the strength.”  (Philippians 4:11-13 NLV)

Yes indeed, Paul had learned the true meaning of contentment.  In the Almighty, he found inner strength and a deep satisfaction no matter what circumstances he faced each day.

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

Look, there is a reason why you so often grow discontent and it has less to do with your fleeting circumstances then you may realize. There is a better way of life calling to you. Deep inside you know this to be true.  Your ego, wants you to keep “playing it safe” or believing you are actually “controlling” things. But we all know stability, safety, and control are just man-made delusions.  Our lives could be gone in an instant, in spite of our best laid strategies.  The Newer Testament writer James put it this way:

14 “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”  (James 4:14 NLT)

So, you are a malcontent?  Bit of a spiritual Sleepwalker?  Me too. Maybe it’s time to stop hitting the snooze bar.  WAKEUP CALL!  It’s time you let our Creator fill that emptiness inside of you.  Are you ready to let Him in?  Hey, could I ask you to at least think about what Paul wrote to a friend of his named Timothy?

“But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. For we have brought nothing into the world, so [it is clear that] we cannot take anything out of it, either. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 AMP)

Contentment.  Getting there can be a real struggle.  But it’s worth it.  I’m just now beginning to really find that out.  Oh Happy Days!

Ciao.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2017 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved. For additional information write to:
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