Posts Tagged ‘End Times’

These bickerings of opposite parties, and their mutual reproaches their declamations, their sing-song, their triumphs and defiance, their dismal prophecies, are all delusion” – John Adams –

Everyone has told a lie.  On that point I hope we can all agree.  “Not me brother, I have never told a lie.”  Oh Really?  Guess what, you just did.  And we all heard it!  Truth is, we live in an age of lies.  They saturate our culture.  From Madison to Pennsylvania Avenues and right on down good old Main Street USA, liars abound.

In Oliver Goldsmith’s 1771 play, She Stoops to Conquer, the popular and flamboyant character Tony Lumpkin quips, “Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no fibs.”  The inference of this declaration could easily be interpreted like this, “if you question me, my answer might not always be honest – so, don’t question me.”  In other words, we are most likely to “fib” when it is more expedient than telling the truth.

The late Donald James Wheal (1931-2008) made this rather pithy observation: “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous to them and its speaker a raving lunatic.”

Well now, that just about describes the days in which we live.  Lies have become so commonplace that people often perceive those who are attempting to expose what is false by simply telling the truth as hate mongers, bigots, intolerant or just plain crazy.  Nowhere have lies become more prevalent than in the world of politics.  Surely you must have heard this bit of overused humor, “How do you know when a politician is lying?  Their lips are moving!”  Wahahahahaha… But, I digress.

The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it” — George Orwell

The Bible speaks often about deceitfulness.  The Newer Testament book of Ephesians says that people should, 25“Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are all part of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves.” (Ephesians 4:25)  That’s good advice.  No matter the rational, a lie is always intended to either mislead or protect – usually a bit of both.

Moving beyond the simple lies we often tell to one another; there is a “lying spirit” at work in the world.  I am not talking about ghosts, ghouls, zombies, the occult or little green men here.  Mankind’s obsession with that expression of the dark side is just another part of the grand delusion.  The essence of all that is evil in this world is known to Christians as “the spirit of antichrist”.  According to one of the biblical writers, that spirit has been at work in this world for a long time.  Keep in mind that this missive, from which I will now quote, was probably written in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus on the coast of Ionia (in present-day Turkey) roughly 2000 years ago:

1-3 “Don’t trust every spirit, dear friends of mine, but test them to discover whether they come from God or not. For the world is full of false prophets. You can test them in this simple way: every spirit that acknowledges the fact that Jesus Christ actually became man, comes from God, but the spirit which denies this fact does not come from God. The latter comes from the antichrist, which you were warned would come and which is already (working) in the world.”  (1 John 4:1-3 – Phillips)

The spirit of antichrist occupies the very nature of humanity gone astray.  It is this pervasive ambiguous malevolence that hinders the spiritually oblivious from receiving the truth. (Read 1 Corinthians 2:12-14) That spirit of antichrist (aka: the spirit of the world) has so blinded the passengers of spaceship earth that the majority of mankind simply drifts along on the streams of this world’s philosophies, while unconsciously obeying its unseen influences. (Read Ephesians 2:2)  The spirit that is at work in this world does not lead people to pursue the truth, it merely gives them a false impression that they are all doing just fine.  As a result, much of humanity is traveling through space-time without the benefit of a true spiritual or moral compass.  Unable to discern truth from what is false, mankind is easily manipulated by hypocritical liars whose consciences are so scorched that many of them are now incapable of ethical functioning.  The New Testament writer, Timothy, put it this way:

1-3 “The Spirit (of God) makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the (true) faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth.”  (1 Timothy 4:1-3 MSG)

The Nations of the world are in great trouble today.  Many believe that some have moved beyond the Point of a Safe Return and must now face the inevitable – the Creator’s anger.  Just because the Sovereign Almighty (the Master Spirit of Truth) has chosen a prolonged period of outward silence does not mean He will remain inactive forever.  Remember this Biblical warning: 31 “The very worst thing that can happen to a man is to fall into the hands of the living God!”  (Hebrews 10:31)  The Creator will hold all mankind accountable to Himself.  He won’t overlook a single detail, believe me.

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so well established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.” — Blaise Pascal

The Bible’s Old Testament offers many great examples that should serve as a warning to all of us.  Here are but a few:

14 “Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found.  Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.”  (Isaiah 59:14-15 – NLT) 

1 “…The Lord has brought charges against you, saying: There is no faithfulness, no kindness, and no knowledge of God in your land.  You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery.  There is violence everywhere—one murder after another.  That is why your land is in mourning, and everyone is wasting away.  Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea are disappearing.”  (Hosea 4:1-3 – NLT)

The Almighty One never changes.  Yesterday, today and forever, He remains the same.  It matters not how long ago our Creator made his declarations; the Spirit of Truth has warned us exactly what will happen whenever humanity actively and openly forsake His ways (it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t end well).

It’s hard to accept the truth when the lies you’re being told are exactly what you want to hear.” – Unknown

We are most likely living in the latter days; an age of increasing lawlessness where a strong delusion has empowered people to follow the dictates of their own deceitful heart.  I need to be frank here.  The person who will become known as The Antichrist (the human incarnation of the antichrist spirit) is not beyond your understanding.  He will appear on the earth like any other man, except he will have some extraordinary powers that come from the dark side of the unseen dimensions.  Here is what the Bible says about his eventual arrival on the bridge of spaceship earth:

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

Yes my friends, these are the times of strong delusion.  People are abandoning the foundations of truth to embrace a universal lie.  Thankfully, I am neither anxious about the future nor deceived by the delusions of today.  I have placed my absolute trust in the message brought to the earth by Jesus the Anointed One.  The same Spirit that was dwelling in Him while he visited the earth also lives in me.  The Creator is now my spiritual guide.  He steers me in the right direction, provides for my every need, protects me from my enemies and is my refuge in these troubled times.

You and I can neither revise human history nor alter God ordained future events.  We can however change the course of our own lives and perhaps even influence the trajectory of a few fellow passengers here on spaceship earth.  Get to know the real Jesus.  He will chart the course to bring you safely home again.  Are you ready?  Warp factor one… Engage….

Almighty God, speak to those with ears to hear.  Open their eyes to see beyond the strong delusion.  Let them recognize your voice today – the voice of truth.  Let them see the real Jesus.  Thank you Heavenly Father.  Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved. For more information write to:
INSIGHT TODAY, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr. ―

Ahoy Mates!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul had more words of wisdom for young Timothy,

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

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

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

Listen now to what Paul went on to tell Timothy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now if you’ll excuse me, my grouper and romaine salad awaits.  Thank you God for those who have heard your voice today; May they all have ears to hear and eyes to see.  And, thank you for my food.  Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
e world The Apocalypse (end of times) speaks powerfully of trouble ahead with storm warnings that carry a booming jolt of truth. The warning is clear: prepare to meet thy God…” ~ Billy Graham ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
Hello! Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?”  Gilmour, Waters

It’s sunny and hot on the Gulf coast of Florida, oh, but that sea breeze is so refreshing. I am sitting outdoors at a favored lunch spot (Mama’s Greek Cuisine in Tarpon Springs, Florida). From my perch along the railing on the back deck, I can watch the endless parade of sightseers and locals alike making their way along Dodecanese Boulevard and spilling onto Athens Street. Today’s lunch crowd seems to be mostly locals (it’s that time of year). Lots of smiling faces and when you add in the nonstop festive music to the island atmosphere, the effect is just short of intoxicating.

After a delicious bowl of avgolemeno soup, a traditional Greek Salad (sans lettuce) and some homemade crusty bread (but no ouzo!), I am sufficiently fortified to put my thoughts into words.

The life and times of one John Heywood (1497 – 1580) recently caught my attention. Heywood was a fairly well known English playwright, poet and composer. He married into a very politically incorrect family for his generation and he was not at all timid about letting his social and religious views be known. Heywood supported the Church of Rome (Catholicism) during the politically unstable years of King Henry VIII’s reign, when the monarchy split from Papal authority and formed the Church of England. His wife, the former Elizabeth Rastell, was a niece of the famous Sir Thomas More who was executed for his religious beliefs which were at odds with King Henry’s new government approved church. Heywood was himself eventually forced to flee England as a result of the oppressive Acts of Uniformity.

So, why my interest in John Heywood who lived over 500 years ago? Because, among his assorted literary works we find that he penned this oft’ quoted maxim:

“There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.”

How profound is the blindness of those who will not see. God would always have us show His mercy to the truly blind – those who for whatever reason cannot see. But what of the deluded who choose to ignore what they already know? They have eyes to understand what is right, but they shut them tightly against the truth. Let’s talk about the Comfortably Numb.

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.” ― Blaise Pascal

As I was waiting for my lunch to be served, I could hear the conversation of a rather smart looking couple seated at the table to my left. They appeared to be in their late twenties to early thirties, dressed in casual business attire. To the best of my recollection, this is what I overheard:

Him: “What do ya think about all the madness going on in this country and around the world?”

Her: “It’s like, crazy! But, what can you do about it? Besides, I have my own problems to think about.”

Him: “Yea, that’s why I don’t listen to the news that much. It’s way too depressing. As long as it doesn’t affect me, not going to let it ruin my life.”

The conversation quickly shifted to their weekend plans and something about a going to a concert.

I was somewhat surprised at how succinctly they could dismiss the sum total of today’s global madness. This world is nothing short of a remarkable and overwhelming mess, and if these two lunchtime patrons are any indication, an increasing number of people simply view the collective insanity as “somebody else’s problems.”

Of course, it would not be healthy to turn into a full time pessimist. I think we all know someone who is so obsessed with endless thoughts of doom, gloom and destruction that they are a drag to be around. But still, I see a swelling number of people growing indifferent toward wicked and deplorable occurrences in our society. Headline shock is giving way to social apathy. It’s easier to turn blind eyes to all of the depravity than to open them wide and face the truth. As long as we are relatively happy, healthy and have a few bucks in our pocket, let’s all just become comfortably numb. Or, is that uncomfortably numb? Not sure.

By default, most of us have taken the dare to simply survive. Exist. Get through. For the most part, we live numb to life – we’ve grown weary and apathetic and jaded… and wounded.” ― Ann Voskamp

And what of the faith community who claim to believe in God and know his ways?

Not long ago I was invited to speak at a Sunday morning church service. I rose early to be sure I would arrive on time. As it turned out, I was the first person to show up – 10 minutes prior to the designated start time. The parking lot had only one other vehicle beside my own. No worries, a Pastor met me at the door.

“You’re early” he said, “Service will start in a few minutes.”

I’m early? Okay. I was escorted into the church hall and invited to make myself at home. Sitting in the empty room I thought, “This congregation must rush the doors in wild abandon moments before the service begins.” I sat awaiting the stampede. Well, the teeming masses never did make it. The musicians and singers eventually arrived. As the service began (20 minutes late), there were more people on the platform then in the seats. In time the room did fill quite a bit, with the last stragglers stumbling in about 35 minutes late. Most people seemed to listen as I spoke. A few thanked me on the way out. The building emptied so quickly the fire inspector would have been proud. But this is not unusual. I have just described the normal pattern in most churches today. Welcome to postmodern casual Christianity. Come as you are whenever you like.

Don’t get mad at me because I tell you the truth (Galatians 4:16). I’m not being harsh or judgmental. I have been guilty of indifference now and then myself. It’s just so easy to become comfortably numb.

Little by little, over the centuries, compromise, conformity and even heathenish practices have corrupted “The Way” introduced to mankind by the Liberator Jesus. The humble simplicity of faith in God has slowly given way to human theories, pagan traditions and the doctrines of mere men. Cloaked in a form of righteousness, but void of any true and divine power, a severely weakened and impotent Christian church has emerged to dominate the mainstream landscape of modern times. The postmodern church is fast becoming the perfect place for the comfortably numb with an atmosphere that is ripe and ready for that great leader, the man of all things nasty – Antichrist – to debut.

This would be the first step in apostasy; men first forget the true, and then adore the false.” ― C.H. Spurgeon

The Newer Testament biblical writer Paul, in his letter to the Christian community living in ancient Thessaloniki warned about the future days of the comfortably numb; a time when people would lose their faith in God. Here is what he told them,

 3”Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day [the return of the Liberator Jesus] will not come unless the apostasy comes first [the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist].” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Apostasy means to fall away from the truth. An apostate is someone who was once enlightened by the Creator of all things – the Divine Spirit (God). Apostasy is actually a rebellion against God because it is a rebellion against his revealed truth. The comfortably numb are drifting dangerously close to that slippery slope of abandonment or neglect.

The Older Testament Prophet Jeremiah tried to shake the comfortably numb of his generation. He spoke some very significant and timeless words to the people. Here is what he said,

21 ‘Hear this, O foolish people without understanding, who have eyes but do not see and who have ears but do not hear. 22 Do you not fear me?’ says the Lord… 23But these people have a strong-will and a heart that has turned against me. They have turned aside and gone away.” (Jeremiah 5:21-23)

Once, when the Liberator Jesus was here on the earth, his followers asked him, “Why do you talk to the people in parables (stories, allegories)?” He responded by telling them that they (his followers) were receptive to the insight (truth) that he came to share. Whenever someone has an open spirit, the insight (truth) and understanding can flow freely. Jesus spoke in parables as a way to create readiness, and receptiveness to the truth. But of those who will not see he said,

13 “This is why I speak to them in picture-stories; because they go through life with their eyes open, but see nothing, and with their ears open, but understand nothing of what they hear. They are the living fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them’. (Matthew 13:13-15)

Whether you’ve been asleep in the light or blinded by the darkness, the result is nearly the same – you are living the delusion of the comfortably numb. It’s time to break the apathy and flee the apostasy. Open your eyes. Clean out your ears. Pay attention. The days are growing short – but, there is still time. You can change your direction. One last thought from the pages of the good book,

12 My friends watch out! Don’t let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. 13 You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called “today.” If you don’t, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn. 14 We were sure about Christ when we first became his people. So let’s hold tightly to our faith until the end. 15 The Scriptures say, “If you hear his voice today, don’t be stubborn like those who rebelled.” (Hebrews 3:12-15)

The Liberator Jesus is calling you. Take the time to listen. He’ll do the rest. Ask him anything, but above all, ask for his help. Right now – Just do it!

Forgive me God for allowing the worries of this world, the false glamour of materialism and all of my foolish ambitions to creep in and choke the life out of what you really want me to be. Today, I am yours once again. I surrender my flawed desires in favor of you perfect will for my life. Jesus, please help me. I want to trust you. I want to believe in you. Please show me the way and teach me your ways. Lead me to the next step. Amen

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 42:5 –

It’s hard to maintain a positive outlook in such a negative world. Doom, gloom, death and destruction are served up piping hot 24-7 by the modern-day soothsayers (news media). Consume that fodder all the time and you may sink deep into manic depression.

I was reminded by a good friend recently that in spite of all the darkness and desperation here in modern Sodom and Gomorrah, this is still a world filled with much beauty and wonder. You know, he is right. This world is chock-full of marvelous things that we can all enjoy.

Sure, the spiritual, social and personal depravity of mankind is a present reality that is often difficult to escape. But, as a Christian, I can shine the light of truth into the black abyss of human depravity without allowing that darkness to consume my joy and happiness in the process.

Allow me to share a bit of history with you. Over a century ago, the luxury steamship RMS Titanic met a calamitous end in the North Atlantic after sideswiping an iceberg. The collision slashed a 300-foot gash far below the ship’s waterline, and from that moment forward the good Titanic was doomed. No amount of human intervention could alter the now determined outcome. Upon assessing the damage, the crew of the Titanic abandoned all hope of making repairs in an effort to save the ship. The focus turned to saving as many lives as possible. The mighty Titanic, once considered unsinkable, would now plunge two miles to the bottom of the dark cold depths of the briny deep. Of the estimated 2,208 passengers and crew on board, roughly 1496 people perished in the disaster. Only 712 people were saved. How were their lives spared? They were rescued.

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because of this correlation: we too are all passengers on a marvelous ship floating upon a celestial sea. Like the Titanic, spaceship earth is also doomed. The fate of this planet was determined long ago. In fact, the final moments of world history are described in the ancient texts of the scriptures:

8 “But don’t forget this, dear friends, a day or a thousand years from now is like tomorrow to the Lord. He isn’t really being slow about his promised return, even though it sometimes seems that way. But he is waiting, for the good reason that he is not willing that any should perish, and he is giving more time for sinners to repent. 10 The day of the Lord is surely coming, as unexpectedly as a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the heavenly bodies will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be burned up.  11 And so since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives we should be living! 12 You should look forward to that day and hurry it along—the day when God will set the heavens on fire, and the heavenly bodies will melt and disappear in flames.” (2 Peter 3:8-12 – Living Bible)

Talk about massive global warming. This world is going out in flames. Rather than try to change the inevitable, the Bible actually says we humans should look forward to that day and hurry it along! It amuses me to no end as I pass my time here in Sodom to watch the blind masses being whipped up into a frenzy over climate change. It’s going to get warm alright. Really warm. If you believe the Bible, the whole planet is going to catch fire!

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – Charles Spurgeon

Never the less, our modern day Babylonians – ever rebellious toward a dependence upon a supreme God – continue to spread the religion of humanism as they build a tower to the sky. Their futile attempts to rewrite the laws of society and nature in hope of saving the planet and humanity will ultimately fail miserably. Like their distant Babylonian cousins of the past, they cannot succeed. It’s simply not the Great Architect’s plan for the planet earth. This world was damned in the distant past and mankind can do nothing to change the final outcome. As detailed in the ancient texts of scripture, much of the human race and the spaceship we call earth will perish one day in a cosmic meltdown.

Knowing all of this should not depress men and women of faith. These are exciting days in which we live. There is plenty for us to do. It’s time to man the lifeboats! Remember what the liberator Jesus said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned. (Mark 16:15-16) It’s called the great commission. We are to help facilitate the rescue of as many as the Almighty has called to himself before it is too late. Listen to the words of the Newer Testament writer Peter once again,

38-39 “You must repent and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this great promise is for you and your children—yes, and for all who are far away, for as many as the Lord our God shall call to himself!” (Acts 2:39 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Do you know why I am so glad to be a Christian? Okay, there isn’t a single answer to that question. But among the many reasons is this one: I know how all of the chaos and depravity will end. My future is secured. I have escaped from the world’s contaminations through knowing the Liberator Jesus. This freedom allows me to really enjoy my life. Sure, I have bad days. I have cried many tears and had my share of sorrows and even questioned God’s wisdom a time or two (imagine that). But I am learning to look beyond the momentary difficulties in life. The Newer Testament writer Paul said,

15-18 “We wish you could see how all this is working out for your benefit, and how the more grace God gives, the more thanksgiving will redound to his glory. This is the reason why we never collapse. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Today, I am happy. Tomorrow? Who knows? But every day – happy or sad – I am filled with joy. And the joy that my God gives to me supplies the strength to see beyond this present gloom. The world is indeed a very dark and dangerous place. But at this moment, sitting by the Gulf of Mexico in Tarpon Springs, Florida, I have the joy of writing these words to encourage you. I love the smells here by the shore, and the cry of the gulls. The gentleness of the breeze, the smallness of the boats bobbing along atop the majestic grandeur of the mighty seas. And suddenly, my soul breaks out in song,

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art!”*

Remember: Negative world – Positive you! Greater is he that is in us than he that is in this world! Now, take a deep breath and enjoy your life!

Almighty God, before there was time, before the particles of matter were arranged to form the heavens and coalesce into the stars and the planets – there was you. We know so little. There is nothing you do not know. That is why I have placed my absolute trust in you. I pray that my friends will also find the joy and freedom that comes from trusting in the Liberator Jesus, sent to earth by you to seek out and save that which had been lost. I thank you for watching over us today. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

* HOW GREAT THOU ART © 1949 and 1953 by the Stuart Hine Trust. All rights in the USA its territories and possessions, except print rights, administered by EMICMG Publishing. USA print rights administered by Hope Publishing Company. All other North, Central and South American rights administered by Manna Music Inc. Rest of the world rights administered by Kingsway Communications Ltd.