Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

 

I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

It’s February here on Florida’s magnificent Gulf Coast.  As is my custom when writing, I have settled in at one of my preferred inspiration points by the sea.  With an air temp in the low 80’s and an idyllic view of the shoreline, I cannot help but reflect on the timeless beauty of the natural world. From a passing boat, I faintly hear a familiar old 70’s rock tune by the renowned band Pink Floyd.  The song is called “Time.”  The lyrics, as you may have reasoned, deal with the passage of time.  This is the sliver of lyric that caught my attention:

“So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines.
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.”(1)

In my sojourn here on spaceship earth, I have witnessed the manner in which time appears to wind and bend its way through every facet our daily lives.  Time dictates when we work, play, eat, and sleep.  Some days it seems like we have all the time in the world.  On other days we feel that there will never be enough time.  We say that time flies or time is on our side, but we also claim that time stands still or is against us.  So really, what is TIME?  Hmmm?  Let’s talk.

We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time.” – Alan Watts

A nonscientific definition of time (one that doesn’t rely upon a systematic collection of evidence) might go something like this: Time measures events and their duration from the past through the present and on into the future.  Clocks, calendars, seasons, days, months and years are just some of the tools that we use for assessing the passage of time.  From our mortal perspective, time is the gauge of our life experience. We are born at point A and we die at point B. The interval in-between point A and B is our life-time.  So, it would appear that the flow of time is central to the human experience. But does this flow of time truly exist?

Albert Einstein said, “Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.”  Einstein believed that “time” simply provides us with a delineator – a way to keep everything from happening at once.  He proposed that existence is singular (i.e., it is always “now”).  In the theories of Albert Einstein, the past, present and future all exist in parallel and any distinction between them is nothing more than a convincing illusion; a construct which allows us a degree of comprehension into what might otherwise be unfathomable.

Can this actually be the truth?  Is time just an intricate illusion?  A movie recorded and played back by the human brain?  Who knows?  The philosophers, religious practitioners, scientists and physicists have been debating that question for centuries.  Let me tell what I know for sure: here on spaceship earth, NOW is all we have – illusion or not.  Now IS the time.

God knows when the end of time as we perceive it will come, not some fanatic… The world will end someday, but the end of the world and the end of time are two different things.” ― Dolly Parton

For thousands of years prognosticators have attempted to foretell the end of the world (and thus the cessation of time as we know it). Aside from numerous past civilizations with their copious chronicles and codices on this subject, the Bible contains a plethora of inspired writings and prophecies that also refer to the end of time. Should we take any of them seriously?

The God-man Jesus, who visited the earth nearly 2000 years ago, most certainly did. He often spoke of the time of the end. Here is just one example,

21-22   “There is going to be a time of trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God’s chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.” – Matthew 24:21-22

This text and dozens of similar biblical declarations warn of increasingly cataclysmic global events that will occur over time and intensify exponentially prior to a supernatural (unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature) intervention in our mortal affairs. When will this intrusion occur?  I don’t know. No human being does. Anyone who claims with certainty to possess the knowledge of when the world (as we know it) will come to an end is either a liar or greatly deceived. Pay them no mind. When the Jesus walked the earth, he made it crystal clear: no one would ever know the exact time of His return to this planet. Here is what he said:

34 Then at last this age will come to its close. 35   “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words remain forever. 36 But no one knows the date and hour when the end will be – not even the angels. No, nor even God’s Son. Only the Father knows. 37-38The world will be at ease – banquets and parties and weddings – just as it was in Noah’s time before the sudden coming of the Flood; 39people wouldn’t believe what was going to happen until the Flood actually arrived and took them all away. So shall my coming (His return) be. Matthew 24:34-39 TLB

So, we cannot know with certainty at what moment our perception of time will end. But we can recognize when that day is drawing near. The ancient scriptures are peppered with clues. For instance, the biblical texts predict an increase in false liberators (people claiming to be our Savior or Knight in shining armor), an intensification of regional conflicts and one eventual final devastating world war. Famines, pandemics, droughts, wildfires and other natural disasters will steadily increase. These are all signs of the approaching end of time. Again, here is what Jesus had to say:

5  For many will come claiming to be the Savior and will lead many astray. 6  When you hear of wars beginning, this does not signal my return; these must come, but the end is not yet. 7  The nations and kingdoms of the earth will rise against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many places. 8  But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. Matthew 24:5-8

It would be a mistake to interpret every earthquake, tsunami, tornado, and the numerous civil flare-ups occurring at any given moment as a sign that the end of time is here. These events merely foreshadow the final curtain. They are like the growing discomfort and final labor pains that precede a child birth.

What if time doesn’t exist and what we refer to as past and future have no reality except in our own mental constructs? The idea of time is a convention of thought and language, a social agreement; in truth we only have this moment.” – Author Unknown

Something else to consider. As we get closer to the end of the world there will be an unmistakable increase in spiritual, moral and social deception and degradation. The Newer Testament writer Paul warned of this nearly two millennia ago:

1-5  But you must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centered, greedy for money, full of big words. They will be proud and contemptuous, without any regard for what their parents taught them. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, purity and normal human affections. They will be men of unscrupulous speech and have no control of themselves. They will be passionate and unprincipled, treacherous, self-willed and conceited, loving all the time what gives them pleasure instead of loving God. They will maintain a facade of “religion”, but their conduct will deny its validity. You must keep clear of people like this. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

So here we are, living on a floating orb in the vastness of space, timeless beings restrained by the illusion of time, and yet witnessing what might possibly be the beginning of the end of all we know as real. That sounds a bit alarming, if not crazy. No worries. I have learned a thing or two about the ways of the Divine Spirit whom we call God. The Creator of all things specializes in new beginnings. The end of time will simply bring about the elimination of all that is wrong (evil). With the return of the God-man called Jesus to the earth, a new age of untainted leadership over humanity will commence, and everything will become as right as rain.

For now though, I would recommend a bit of self-examination. Are you prepared for the end of time as we know it and the sudden return of the Creator to earth which He made? The God-man Jesus was rather blunt in saying that only those who have followed the truth which he came to reveal will find their redemption. If I have interpreted His words correctly, He said: If you know my ways, you know THE way.  Politically correct?  Tolerant?  Not really.  But truth seldom is these days.  Jesus put it this way when he was questioned by a skeptic (doubter):

…Thomas said to him, “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father (GOD) except through me. 7If you have really known me, you will know who my Father is.  From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

And, here is what the scripture has to say to all who might be sitting on the fence right now:

7 If you hear His voice today, 8 do not let your hearts become hard as your ancestors did when they turned against me. 10 For this reason, I was angry with the people of that day. And I said to them, ‘They always think wrong thoughts. They have never understood what I have tried to do for them.’ 12Beware then of your own hearts, dear brothers, lest you find that your heart too is evil and unbelieving and leading you away from the living God. 13  Speak to each other about these things every day while there is still time so that none of you will become hardened against God, being blinded by the glamor of sin. 15 For now is the time. Never forget the warning, “Today if you hear God’s voice speaking to you, do not harden your hearts against him …” (Hebrews 3:7-8, 10, 12-13, 15)

Today is all we have.  NOW is the time to open your heart to the truth that can bring you genuine freedom and life.

Well mates, time for me to shove off.  I’ll leave you with a prayer:

God of all creation, before there was time you knew me by my name; you numbered all of my days and considered all of my ways. Before there was time you promised redemption was mine; this was always your plan for mankind and a liberator you sent to find all who were stranded in time. My hope is built on every promise made by my Liberator Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.

 

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2019 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

(1) Pink Floyd. Dark Side of the Moon. Harvest Records, 1973

Time is sort of a 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 believed that existence is singular. For him it was always “now” with no real separation between the past and the future. He once wrote. “Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.”  In the mind of 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 in North America (2018) 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 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 again, “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 ancient 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 a 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, even if that means swimming against the cultural tide.

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

Today is New Year’s Eve.  All over the world people are celebrating the passage of time. A new year is about to begin.  In the words of the great Victorian Poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson,

“Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light: The old year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.”

What will you do with this new year?  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 in the coming year.  Our Creator has something unique for every one of us.  Find ways to be of service to others 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)

Second, remember with whom we are at war. Here on Spaceship Earth, our battles are most often against spiritual enemies (not our fellow passengers). Forget about society’s methods of confronting evil. God is a spirit entity with boundless resources from whom we draw our strength and wisdom. The good fight of faith requires that we know our foes and respond appropriately. Listen to this from the Biblical writer Paul,

For 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.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Yea, I know, that seems pretty radical. But, the rebel Jesus was considered radical too. So were all of his early disciples. If you truly want to follow the message and the mission of Jesus, you’ll be joining a spiritually radical bunch. We’re not just playing church, we’re out to change the fundamental nature of mankind by the power that works within us.

Well, good or bad, right or wrong, real or not – time’s up. Another year has come and gone. The Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran once said, “Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.” You know what I say? NOW is your time. What are you going to do with it?  Hmm?

Me, I’m weighing anchor mates.  It’s time to 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 © 2019 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
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

History is beset with acts of violence committed by depraved, disturbed and hateful human beings. According to the Genesis account of creation, God brought forth humanity on the earth, mankind fell, and it wasn’t long before a hate fueled murder occurred on the outskirts of Eden. So it began, and hatred continues to plague humanity to this very day. I have read many explanations as to why we have reached a new crescendo of hatred. The fickle finger of blame is blowing in the wind like a weather-vane. To me it is really rather simple: wherever you find a culture that is driven by an “us” versus “them” mentality, you will also find disharmony and all other kinds of evil (James 3:16). Beware the toxic evil spirit of hate. It is a powerful motivator. Spawned in fear, if left to grow unfettered, it will first consume you and in the end it will destroy you.

The 1983 Sci-Fi film Star Wars Episode VI: Return of The Jedi, features 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? True enough, 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 increasingly 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.

Think about it: Does hate resolve problems? Tell me the last time hatred brought about a solution 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 liberator known by his human name “Jesus”. I believe in His mission and His message. 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. It helps me to differentiate right from wrong, and to make wise choices. When I encounter anything that clearly opposes my system of 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 revised, 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 scriptural texts. 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 blindly accept my way “or else” has not once 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 consequences.

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 resisted – even 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 circus, Okay? Please, don’t hate nor reject the Almighty, or me, because of them. 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.

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

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! Listen to 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, a popular Bible teacher and a rabid Coastal Junkie®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.

But if you bite and devour one another in partisan strife, be careful that you and your whole fellowship are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:15

I’ve got that iconic Beatles tune, A Day In The Life, stuck in my head. It was booming from someone’s boat as I strolled the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida this morning. The old Lennon/McCartney composition got me thinking about our daily headlines. My mind filled with a thousand distressing soundbites ending in one pervasive thought: we’re living in really dangerous times. Now before you break out in a chorus of “Golly, Ya think…” or “Really Sherlock…,” hear me out.

I am generally an optimistic person; a glass half full, we can do all things kind of guy. But, I am also a pragmatist who does not hide inside a bubble of denial or wishful thinking. My Christian worldview continually shapes my outlook on life. So, when the daily headlines start to sound like excerpts from the prophetic texts of scripture, I can’t help but take notice. “I read the news today… oh boy.”

It seems pretty clear to me that if certain cultural trends and vitriolic political rancor continue unabated, days of great distress will surly come upon us all. Perhaps the marvelous man from Galilee said it best, 25 “Every nation divided into groups that fight each other is going to be destroyed. Every city or family divided into groups that fight each other will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25 NLV)

“The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and yet one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time.” ― Abraham Lincoln

On June 16, 1858 the Springfield, Illinois, Republican State Convention chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate. That evening, Lincoln delivered an address to the more than 1000 delegates which (borrowing from the words of Jesus) he entitled, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Mr. Lincoln was warned by friends to whom he read the finished address ahead of time that it was too radical and politically incorrect for the occasion. Nevertheless, Lincoln deliver the speech as written; arguing that the expression, (a house divided against itself), “…is a truth of all human experience…”, and that his intention was to use something familiar to his audience in order to “rouse them to the peril of the times.” [1] The threat of his time, of course, was slavery and the looming danger of a civil war. Mr. Lincoln warned the delegates that day,

“… A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Lincoln lost his run for the Senate that year, but two years later, Nov 6th 1860, he would go on to be elected the 16th President of the United States. On Dec. 20 of that same year, South Carolina seceded from the Union; and on April 12, 1861, the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter. In a nation divided against itself, the Civil War had begun. In the end, the Unionists prevailed, order was restored, and for the time being the nation was saved from utter ruin.

Fast forward 150 years or so and what do we observe? The United States is anything but united. From my perspective, we live in a nation that is not only sharply divided, but continues to fundamentally dilute her national character. It’s getting harder and harder to find unaffected leaders who will defend the righteous principles that inspired our Constitution and enabled the USA to become a one-time envy of the world. Now-a-days, many of our marginally informed, blasé and increasingly lethargic population are eager to trade their liberty, privacy and sovereignty for a promise of freebie prosperity and temporary security. In essence, like biblical Esau who foolishly squandered his heritage for a mere bowl of soup, they unwittingly sell their precious birthright of freedom to satisfy short term desires. (Genesis 25:29–34)

“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. George Washington

What about modern religion – Christianity in particular? Is it just me, or do we live in a time where so many of “the faithful” have redefined their traditional values for the sake of maintaining a cultural relevance? Sociological trends have spawned a new “all-inclusive” spiritual movement full of concessions to agnosticism. Today’s religious agnostics can be hard to spot. They often embrace spiritual principles and scriptural values because it helps them to comprehend some aspects of the human condition while still maintaining that any absolute truth is either subjective, unknown, or unknowable. Let’s just call this movement what it is:  The First Church of the Ambiguous.

Then, of course, there are the multitudes who have either lost their faith altogether or never had any belief in a Creator to begin with. Today our society (secular and sacred) has become so fragmented by opinions and viewpoints that we now truly live in a “nation divided into groups that fight each other.” God help us.

One of the great Biblical authors was a man called Paul. He was born around 1 AD in Tarsus, an ancient city in Asia Minor. Paul was a very well educated man, and a passionate religious Jew who came to recognize that Jesus was the long awaited Liberator (Messiah), sent to the earth for the benefit and reclamation of mankind. A collection of his letters account for almost half the written content of the Newer Testament (13 books) and they are a major source of Christian Theology.

In one of those letters, written to his young protégé named Timothy, whom at the time was the overseer of a community of believers in the ancient Greek city known as Ephesus, Paul wrote these cautionary words,

1 “You should know this, Timothy, in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT)

Paul certainly does not mince words in describing how mankind would evolve down a long path of degradation. The way he defines the characteristics of human beings, particularly as we draw closer to the end of the age of man, is unnerving. Like it or not, Paul hit the nail on the head. Just look around. Could we be living in a period of the prophetically predicted, difficult times? An era when “faith in God” to some is little more than outward appearance, and to others utterly meaningless? I am beginning to believe that we are.

“I also believe that without his (God’s) concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a bye word down to future age.” ― Benjamin Franklin

There are contemporary writers and commentators who refer to the discord and social turmoil playing out before our eyes as a war between Political Parties. Others are calling it an ideological conflict between the viewpoints of Progressives, Socialists, and Conservatives. Some even say it is a struggle to defend our Democratic Constitutional Republic from those who wish to fundamentally transform society into a one world system – a.k.a. The New World Order. Listen, you can label the chaos whatever you like. My question is this: what is the underlying cause of it all? Could all of the societal dysfunction really be a spiritual problem? Are we witnessing a free-for-all between light and darkness? If so, what is the proper Christian response?

The political process is inherently dirty, tragically broken and miles away from the teachings of Jesus. Should we have an educated opinion? Yes. Should we care about our country? Of course. Should we vote? Absolutely. But as men and women of faith, we are not to simply choose sides and then engage in endless partisan arguments that only engender strife. (2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9) It’s time for the children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5) to truly understand what the Newer Testament writer Paul meant when he reminded the believers who lived in ancient Ephesus:

“…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.” (Ephesians 6:12 Phillips)

Did you hear that? Our fight is a spiritual war waged in the realms of the unseen. Engaging in endless conflicts with our fellow passengers here on spaceship earth will only destroy our productivity, and diminish our effectiveness. If we are busy attacking one another, we can’t fight the real enemy.

The admonition of the scripture is to steer clear of people who live to make trouble and start fights (Romans 16:17). As I have already said, Christians most certainly should take a stand and speak out whenever necessary, but in doing so we must not become quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:24). It’s called living in harmony with all mankind. (Romans 12:16, Hebrews 12:14)

“You have to expect spiritual warfare whenever you stand up for righteousness or call attention to basic values. It’s just a matter of light battling the darkness. But the light wins every time. You can’t throw enough darkness on light to put it out. ― Thomas Kinkade

This world will continue to grow more and more dangerous. People will go right on rejecting one another, their Creator, and his redemptive plan. In fact, the Almighty will eventually expedite their ultimate delusional state. Say what? Absolutely. Here is what the scriptures have to say on that subject,

5-12 “I expect you remember now how I talked about this when I was with you. You will probably also remember how I used to talk about a “restraining power” which would operate until the time should come for the emergence of this evil man (known as anti-christ). Evil is already insidiously at work but its activities are restricted until what I have called the “restraining power” (of God) is removed. When that happens the lawless man will be plainly seen—though the truth of the Lord Jesus spells his doom, and the radiance of the coming of the Lord Jesus will be his utter destruction. The lawless man is produced by the spirit of evil and armed with all the force, wonders and signs that falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world he will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil’s delusion, so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their play-fellow. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 – J.B. PHILLIPS)

The Lawless Man? Evil Spirits? Falsified signs and wonders? Deluded by evil? Yes, and a whole lot more. It’s going to get really bad here on spaceship earth. But we’ll save that discussion for another day.

No matter what the future holds, I’m not worried. I believe the teachings of scripture. The Liberator Jesus once said, “Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light” (John 12:36). One day, (if our natural death does not occur first), the “restraining power of God will be removed”, and the children of light will be taken from the earth to escaping the wrath that is to come. Either way – we win! How about you?

Peace out.

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

[1] Herndon, op. cit., p. 325

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

 

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.
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