Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Those who keep saying that the voice of the people is like the voice of Almighty God should not be listened to, since the unruliness of the crowd is always very close to madness.” Alcuin of York

Madness.  Having looked the word up in a variety of modern lexicons, I was intrigued by the resulting interpretive meanings that I read.  Most described madness as a state of severe mental illness.  But the Merriam-Webster’s characterization really caught my attention as it also defined madness as behavior or thinking that is very foolish, unreasonable or dangerous.

I read that description of madness and erupted out loud in laughter, which caused some of the lunchtime crowd at Rusty Bellies (where I was busy reviewing research for this article) to stare at me momentarily.  “Madness”, I said, smiling back at them.  They quickly looked away.

Why did I laugh out loud?  Because at times it seems to me that we all live in a society which is being overrun by people whose thinking is very foolish, quite unreasonable and in some cases very dangerous.  Our modern culture appears to be suffering a very bad season of madness!

Catch a news report on any given day and you will likely hear accounts of deranged bombers and crazed gunmen randomly killing the innocent, rioters and looters destroying their own communities as a form of “protest”, men and women fighting over bathroom rights, and the list just goes on and on.  All of this “madness” can be worrisome indeed.  Toss in our concerns over the latest global “hotspots”, add a pinch of general human cruelty, negativity, and, well it’s enough to drive you crazy.  At the very least, it can be difficult to remain a positive person in a world gone mad.  So what can we do to endure as beacons of optimistic light and real hope in a very pessimistic atmosphere?  Let’s talk.

To think that the specter you see before you is an illusion does not rob it of its terrors: it simply adds the further terror of madness itself — and then on top of that the horrible surmise that those of us whom the rest call mad have, all along, been the only people who see the world as it really is.”C.S. Lewis

Did you know that anxiety disorders have become one of the most common form of mental illness in the United States? Some estimates put the number of affected people over the age of 18 at more than 45 million.  One study claims that 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. is now considered depressed.

Granted, anxiety and depression can have many points of origin, including genetic predispositions, brain disorders and trauma. But, there is no denying that consistent pessimism and harmful thought patterns are major contributing factors to both.  I recently read that we experience anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts each day!  For those possessed with a negative outlook, it’s a mental journey on the dark side.

Staying calm, positive, and happy at all times may be an admirable goal, but it’s also unrealistic.  Furthermore, it is impossible to have nothing but “happy thoughts”.  However, learning to change negative thought patterns, can lower anxiety levels and help to ease some forms of depression.  Remember, our thinking not only influences the way that we feel, it also plays a major role in shaping who we are as a person.

We live in a society bloated with data yet starved for wisdom. We’re connected 24/7, yet anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness is at an all-time high. We must course-correct.”Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey

The Bible’s Older Testament Book of Proverbs makes an interesting observation,

“For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he…”  (Proverbs 23:7)

According to the sage wisdom of Scripture, we are literally the sum of all that we think.  Why?  Because what we think is also what we believe and what we truly believe is what we ultimately say and do.  And folks, you ARE what you say and do.

So let me ask you a question, what are your mental deliberations like as you duke it out with that still small voice inside?  What thoughts fill your mind every day?

  • The worries of daily life?
  • The emotional pain you are suffering at present?
  • Hurt feelings from your past that still haunt you?
  • Physical aches, pains or ailments that you suffer?
  • Your fears and uncertainties over economic circumstances?

If these are the thought patterns that predominantly populate your daily mental landscape, you suffer from, thinking stenchinitis! (Aka: Stinking Thinking)

As a Bible believing Christian, I have learned that it is unwise to dwell on all the negatives in the world – especially when I can do little to change most of them anyway.  Instead, I regularly work to realign my thought patterns by focusing my attention on the things that are above earthbound circumstances!  According to the ancient Biblical texts, everything we need comes to us from the Creator of all things (GOD) when we set our mind on what is beyond this temporary existence.  The Liberator Jesus put it this way:

32-33 “People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over so many things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:32-33 MSG)

If I am reading the words of Jesus correctly, those who know how God “works” can change negative thought patterns by immersing themselves in the reality, initiatives and provisions of the Creator of all things (God).  Anxiety is often a tell-tale symptom of a lack of faith or at least a lack of focus on the things that truly matter – i.e., things beyond this temporary existence on spaceship earth.

Once you become aware that the main business that you are here on this earth for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”J.I. Packer

In Biblical times there was a city known as Colossae.  Located 120 miles east of Ephesus in ancient Phrygia, Colossae was part of the Roman territory known as Asia Minor.  It was also the location of a vibrant Christian community to which the Newer Testament writer Paul inscribed a letter.  He told the followers of Jesus living there to…

1-4 “…Give your heart to the heavenly things, not to the passing things of this earth. For, as far as this world is concerned, you are already dead anyway, and your true life is now hidden in the anointed one. Someday, Jesus, the secret center of our lives, will show himself openly again, and you will all share in that magnificent final outcome.”  (Colossians 3:1-4)

Paul’s instruction were pretty clear; do not be attached to the “things” of this earth.  He reasoned that as followers of the Liberator Jesus, we are all “dead” to this world because our life now belongs to another world.  Right now, it is an unseen realm, but one day what is now invisible will be seen openly when the Liberator makes His return trip to the earth.  Paul went on to tell them,

8 “…dear brothers and sisters, one final thing; fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9 NLT)

Truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, good reports, virtue and praise are not the thoughts upon which modern society commonly focuses. The news media, business world, governments and sometimes even our educational institutions do not bring about this type of thought pattern. Therefore, to remain positive amidst the madness, we must sidestep this world’s agenda and see life from a heavenly perspective.  Refocusing our thinking helps to change negative thought patterns so that we can enjoy an optimistic point of view even as we pass through this “illusion” known as time here on spaceship earth.

As we rehabilitate our thought patterns and focus more attention on what the Creator has said instead of what this present world order is saying and doing, “…everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:33 MSG)    With the Divine Spirit of the Almighty actively helping us each day, we can overcome the blues; deal with bad attitudes, solve unresolved problems, settle disputes, and calm our anxiety and fear.  In other words, we can escape the madness.  Surrounded by madness?  Yes my friends, many in this world have gone crazy, but yours truly has simply decided not to go there with them.  How about you?

13 “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope.”  (Romans 15:13 PHILLIPS)

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
What really matters in life is how God sees me. He is not concerned with outward appearance; He is concerned about the state of a man’s soul.” – Billy Graham

Something just wasn’t quite right.  I could tell.  Billy (not his real name) was usually Mr. Charisma, flashing his broad toothy smile, as he yakked away with the daily lunchtime parade.  Not today.  Instead he sat quietly, staring into his glass and occasionally drumming his fingers on the counter top.

It’s been somewhat stormy as of late here on Florida’s Gulf Coast – trapping me indoors.  Now, with the return of the bright summer sunshine, I’m perched at one of my favorite inspiration points, the outside Tiki on the water at Rusty Bellies in Tarpon Springs.   The tropical morning air is thick with those familiar salty sea smells. I’m fine with that.  Thankfully, there is also a very nice leeward breeze to keep me cool as I write.

When Billy got up to use the rest room, I motioned for him to come my way.  I don’t know him that well, but we have exchanged small talk on several occasions.  As he approached the table I said, “How are you, buddy?”  His terse reply caught me off guard; “what does it matter how I am?

Normally, I’d crack a few jokes to lighten the mood and then move on.  Not today.  I said, “It matters to me Billy, what’s wrong?”  He began by telling me how upsetting life in, as he put it, a “deaf, dumb and blind” world had become.  “So many people don’t seem to get it at all”, he said, “misunderstanding is everywhere and some folks don’t even care if something is true or just a lie.”  Billy then summed up his frustrations this way, “You asked me what’s wrong so I will tell you; everything is going crazy, people are paranoid and afraid.  It’s like nothing matters – not even the truth!  What’s worse, I’m beginning not to care anymore myself.”  And with that, he walked away.

So, the world has gone crazy and nothing matters?  That’s what Billy believes.  What about you?  Have you ever felt like what you think or do doesn’t matter all that much?  And what about the truth? Does the truth matter?  And if so, have you taken a stand for the right stuff, you know, the things that truly matter most in life?  Or are you like Billy, beginning not to care anymore?

Sometimes we may actually find justification for such a mindset.  Take the farce of modern politics, for example.  Do you actually believe that all of the high-profile candidates and elected representatives are on a mission to accomplish what matters most to “John Q Public?”  Survey says; “Not really.”  With a few notable exceptions, politicians will give the impression of deep concern for what is important to the voting public only during the campaign season.  After the election, far too many contemporary political figures hardly ever seems to take into account the sentiments of the people who voted for them.  Once these disingenuous candidates gain entrance into the egocentric money driven political class, they quickly grow deaf to the voice of the citizens they are sworn to represent.  The Lords and Ladies of our modern plutocracy would like nothing better than for the serfs of the fiefdom to remember their station, respect their betters, and shut their collective mouths.  But of course, we better continue to pay their ever more oppressive taxes.

And what of the corporate behemoths in the research and pharmaceutical community?  Certainly “we the people” matter to them.  They’re all humanitarians, right?  Why else would the cost of a vital and widely used anaphylaxis treatment device called the EpiPen® cost the consumer in some cases over $400.00 a dose?  This recent headline grabbing example of how much people “matter” to the masters of the medical universe prompted social media outrage and a campaign by patients and their families to persuade Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, to reduce the price. Numerous critics noted that the actual cost of the epinephrine (the drug included in the auto-injector) is about $1.00 and the entire delivery system can be produced for about $20.00.

Shall we banter about your health insurance providers or the big banks?  They’re all about you, aren’t they?  Look, I am really not here to deliberate human corruption and greed.  The point I’d actually like to make is very simple; living in modern Sodom, it’s easy to feel like your life doesn’t matter all that much.

Now here is what distresses me; more and more honest, hardworking people have given in to that most insidious of little voices that can creep inside your human spirit and whisper the greatest destructive lie of all, “Why bother trying, you don’t matter – just give up.”

So again I ask you, do we matter at all?  Let’s talk.

I resent being taken for a ride to the place where anything goes and nothing matters. And especially where nothing matters less than clear thinking and straight talk.” – James Howard Kunstler

The Book of Psalms can be found in the Older Testament of the Bible.  Psalm 8 contains this enlightening observation:

“When I look up into the night skies and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you have made— I cannot understand how you can bother with mere puny man, to pay any attention to him!”  (Psalm 8:3-4 – TLB)

How direct.  The Psalmist wonders why the Great Architect of the universe would pay any attention at all to what he calls “puny man”.  In essence he says, “Given who you are, how or why would insignificant humanity possibly matter to you?”  The writer of another ancient book that is also found in the Bible – Ecclesiastes – phrased the question more cynically when he asked, “Does anything matter?”  Here is how he felt:  “Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Nothing has any meaning.” (Ecclesiastes 12:8 – NIRV)

So far, it sounds like those who side with the “nothing matters” crowd might have a two point advantage.  Not so fast.  Let me introduce you to an ancient sage who claimed he had received visions and predictive messages directly from the Almighty (God).  His name was Isaiah, a Judean Prophet who for over 40 years saw himself as a messenger of the Creator.  Isaiah lived during one of the most unstable political and religious periods in the history of ancient Jerusalem.

You will find the record of his adventurous life as well as his revelatory writings in the Bible’s Older Testament Book that bears his name.  Its 66 chapters deal with the Creator’s message to His disobedient creation – at that time the chosen people of ancient Israel. The Almighty had entered into a covenant arrangement with the Israelites based on very specific conditions.  However, over time they refused to live by the terms of the agreement; choosing rebellion, pride, and self-will over obedience, humility and surrender.  As spiritual insensitivity increased, ancient Israel elected to do more things their way and without Divine help.

Isaiah was a member of the aristocracy and as such he enjoyed a good relationship with the various heads of state and he had free access to the hallowed halls of the palace. However, his position in society and associations with the politically elite did not deter him from being outspoken.  In fact, he is considered one of the most politically active of all the Biblical prophets.  He is well known for his verbal attacks on the ruling classes, criticizing their corruption and the way they treated the common citizen.

A man of deep seated spiritual principles, he unequivocally believed in the supernatural power of the Almighty Creator.  Isaiah was appalled by the general lack of trust in the one true God so widespread in his time.  He unabashedly proclaimed that the whole of creation belongs to the Almighty (i.e. God owns this planet and all it contains).  He foretold of a coming day of judgement and ultimately the destruction of this world order.  His challenge to mankind was not complex: turn to God for everything in life – or else you will suffer the consequences.  He was one of the early Turn or Burn preachers.

One day Isaiah had a Divine visitation in which he saw the Glory of the otherworldly Lord of Hosts.  During this visionary encounter, the Almighty communicated with him.  The dialogue began with a question (his calling), followed by specific instructions (his mission):

Then I heard the Lord God asking, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go?”

And I said, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.”

And he said, “Yes, Go and say to this people, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.”  (Isaiah 6:8-10 – Septuagint)

Herein is revealed the true nature of spiritual blindness.  Without divine perception you can “hear” the words of truth given to humanity by the Creator Himself and yet comprehend nothing.  You can witness (see) the handiwork of the Almighty all around you and fail to understand what it means.  Without ears to hear and eyes to see your hardened heart is not able to recognize the need to seek the one who made you.  The pursuit of the God who controls all things is more important than anything else that happens here on spaceship earth.  You might say, it’s all that REALLY matters.  Find God and you discover what life is really all about.  Find what life is really all about and you will recognize that indeed you really DO matter – where it counts.

Nothing else matters much — not wealth, nor learning, nor even health — without this gift: the spiritual capacity to keep a passion for living. This is the creed of creeds, the final deposit and distillation of faith itself: that you should be able to believe in the true purpose of life.” — Unknown

When the Liberator Jesus (our creator appearing in the form of a human) was here on spaceship earth he would often tell illustrative stories called parables to the crowds who gathered to listen to him speak.  One day, at the conclusion of one such parable (Matthew 13:1-8) he told the assemblage that had gathered to listen to him speak, 9 “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

As the crowd was dispersing, His close associates asked this question, 10 “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”  Here is how he replied to that inquiry,

11 “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables, for they (the many) look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.”  (Matthew 13:11-13)

What about you?  Do your eyes really see the truth?  Can you really hear what the Spirit of our Creator is saying today?  Do you care?  If so, count yourself blessed.  Many cannot see nor hear – at least not yet, and many more refuse to even try.  Listen carefully then to these urgent words from the Bible’s Newer Testament:

12-15You 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 glamour of sin. For we continue to share in all that Jesus has done 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’.

Can you hear that?  He is speaking to you even now.  To some He is saying, “Help each other to stand firm in the faith every day, while it is still called “today”.  To others He is saying, “…if you will hear my voice, do not harden your hearts in rebellion any longer”.

Everything I have said today matters.  The question is, does anything I’ve said here matter to you? Because you see my friend, you really do matter to the only one who really matters – the God who made you.  And that’s what matters most!

Care to pray?

Father of all creation, some have heard your voice today.  Something is stirring inside of them right now.  I’m sure that they still have many questions.  There are so many mysteries yet to be understood and hurts to be healed.  Please help those with newly opened eyes and ears to place a measure of trust in you and in the message spoken to us all by the Liberator Jesus.  Help them to say, “Here I am.”  Guide them on their journey homeward, I pray.  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
We do not understand the intricate pattern of the stars in their courses, but we know that He who created them does, and that just as surely as He guides them, He is charting a safe course for us.” ― Billy Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
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
I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask for no more out of life.”  ― Henry Fielding ―

I would like to tell you an inspirational story that I heard many years ago.  The main characters are a successful, well-educated, somewhat self-centered American investment banker and a simple village fisherman.  This little story helped me to decide that it was time to slow down, reevaluate my priorities, and live my life with joy – no matter what the circumstances.  This is a tale of a life well lived.

One day a well-to-do businessman was on vacation in a small coastal Mexican village.  He was standing at the pier about mid-day when a little boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The businessman complimented the fisherman on the quality of his catch.

“How long did it take you to hook them?” The businessman asked.

“Only a little while.” The fisherman replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The businessman then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs and some extra to share with my friends.” The fisherman said.

The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman said, “I sleep late when I want too, fish a little when I need too, play with my children, take a daily siesta with my beautiful wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip some wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a very full and busy life, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “Busy life? I am a Harvard MBA”, he said, “and I could really help you”.

To which the fisherman replied, “Help me señor”?

“Yes, help you”, snapped the businessman.  “First, you should spend much more of your time fishing so that you can sell all the fish you do not need.  With the excess profits you can buy a much bigger boat. With the increased earnings from the bigger boat you could then buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the fish processors and eventually open your own cannery. You would then control the product, processing and distribution. Of course, you would eventually need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move first to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The fisherman then asked, “But señor, how long will all of this take?”

To which the businessman replied, “About 15-20 years of long hours and hard work, stress and sacrifice.”

The fisherman then asked, “But what then, señor?”

The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions of dollars.”

“Millions of dollars, señor? Then what?”  Said the fisherman.

The businessman replied, “Then you would gather up all of your money and retire!”

“Retire señor? And what would I do when I retire?” Asked the fisherman with a smile.

The business man exclaimed, “Enjoy your life, man! You will move to a small coastal fishing village where you would get to sleep late, leisurely fish for a little while each day, play with your grand-kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip fine wine and play your guitar with all your amigos.”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “But señor, I already have this life. That is what I’m doing right now.”

And that’s when the businessman’s voice grew silent.

– Author Unknown –

Over the many years since I first read this inspiring text, I have stumbled upon many variations of the story. Most versions feature a lone fisherman who lives in a tranquil little village. He owns a small boat (his business) and enjoys a simple life. In short, he personifies a life well lived.

The fisherman has a definite understanding of what it means to be content. He doesn’t see the simple life as unrewarding or insignificant. On the contrary, he explains to the success driven businessman, “I have a very full and busy life.” And he defines his view of “full and busy” like this,

“I sleep late when I want too, fish a little when I need too, play with my children, take a daily siesta with my beautiful wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip some wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a very full and busy life, señor.”

Idealism? For sure. But very instructive. You see, the fisherman’s satisfaction appears to flow from living a balanced life. He works to meet his needs but he also values his relationships and cherishes his commitment to family, friends and community.

My main job is to live with deep contentment, joy, and confidence in my everyday experience of life with God. Everything else is job number two.” ― John Ortberg

In contrast, the businessman seems wise in his own conceit. “I am a Harvard MBA”, he boasts, “I can help you”. Mr. Overdrive appears to be motivated by a desire to accumulate wealth. Ironically, the goal of his empire building mindset is to secure for some future time what the fisherman already enjoyed—a simple and relaxed life. In his blind arrogance he seems to have forgotten that God alone owns the future. It reminds me of a story in the Newer Testament that Jesus shared.

15 …Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.

16-19Then he told them this story: The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: “What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.” Then he said, “Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself – you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. I’ll take it easy and have the time of my life!”

20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barn full of goods—who gets it?’ 21 That’s what happens when you fill your barn with self and not with God. (Luke 12:15-21 MSG)

In this parable we are introduced to a rich farmer who thought he had it made. He was very successful. In his way of looking at life, it was time to kick back, relax, and have the time of his life!  Not so fast. God showed up and called the man a fool. “Tonight you die.” He said.  “And your barn full of goods—who gets it?”

You see, the present is all we really have. Just think about the people who will die unexpectedly today. In spite of all of their plans, wealth, success, etc., etc., they no longer have a future here on spaceship earth. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow – no one!

Please do not misunderstand the purpose of my discourse today. Wise planning is good. Hard work is virtuous and necessary in this lifetime. Success can be a wonderful experience. Money isn’t necessarily bad either (it’s the love of money that is at the root of evil – not the money). But, when we become so future-oriented and success driven that we lose sight of living in the moment, life begins to lose significance.  That’s what happens when your life is mostly about self-interests without attentiveness to the things that please our Creator.

It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want. I got everything I need and nothing that I don’t” – Zac Brown Band

I’m not suggesting that we should all run off to a small coastal fishing village and live slow, simple lives (although, personally, I sometimes find the thought of doing so to be very appealing). We should, however, learn to be content in the life that we have right now – even if our present state of affairs are sometimes less than desirable. One of the Newer Testament writers, Paul, put it like this,

11b-13I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. (Philippians 4:10-13 – PHILLIPS)

Did he say contentment no matter what the circumstance? Yes, he did. Good days or bad days. Highs or lows. Happy or sad. Contentment is the key to a life well lived. Our friend Paul learned this lesson well. In another Newer Testament letter he told his friend Timothy,

6-8There is a real profit, of course, but it comes only to those who live contentedly as God would have them live. We brought absolutely nothing with us when we entered the world and we can be sure we shall take absolutely nothing with us when we leave it. Surely then, as far as physical things are concerned, it is sufficient for us to keep our bodies fed and clothed.

9-10For men who set their hearts on being wealthy expose themselves to temptation. They fall into one of the world’s traps, and lay themselves open to all sorts of silly and wicked desires, which are quite capable of utterly ruining and destroying their souls. For loving money leads to all kinds of evil, and some men in the struggle to be rich have lost their faith and caused themselves untold agonies of mind.

11-12But you, the man of God, keep clear of such things. Set your heart not on riches, but on goodness, Christ-likeness, faith, love, patience and humility. Fight the worthwhile battle of the faith, keep your grip on that life eternal to which you have been called, and to which you boldly professed your loyalty before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:6-12 – PHILLIPS)

Paul understood that a wealth driven success model does not lead to contentment. It is not wrong to be rich. A desire to succeed in our endeavors and better our material position in the world is not inherently evil. But extreme caution is advised as material success often leads to greed. It is always a mistake to place our trust in the uncertainty of riches (1 Timothy 6:17).

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

So my friends, what do say we all chill out? Slow down. Smell those proverbial flowers. I don’t care how you say it – JUST DO IT!  Learn to be content with the knowledge that God knows exactly what is best for each of us and He has promised to provide whatever we need from His vast resources (Philippians 4:19).

Got it?  Excellent.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a small fishing boat to clean and later a few friends will be waiting for me in Tarpon Springs… and…

Okay, maybe not.

But, I am content!

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
It is possible to be highly educated and at the same time morally depraved.  There is, in fact, a certain kind of moral depravity that only the highly educated can attain, because it requires sophisticated skills of rationalization and self-deception.”  ― Iain W. Proven ―

Human depravity has been a subject of debate among philosophers and theologians ever since…well…ever since two of them wound up in the same room together in a conversation. In the simplest of terms, the basis of their doctrinal disagreements rest upon this question: Are people basically good or bad? Stay tuned kiddies – among these doctors of dogma, who populate philosophical ivory towers, the debate continues…

Meanwhile, on the streets of modern Sodom (where we live) with its pervasive humanistic “new age” culture, there is this generally accepted assumption that people are essentially good. Of course it is allowable to admit that “no one is perfect”. After all, it is only human to “err.” Sure, there are some really bad people who exhibit very “evil” tendencies but in spite of all the wickedness in the world, there is a “basic goodness” in every human life. In other words, evil does not penetrate to the core of the human spirit.  We are all capable of “self-improvements” and “higher planes of consciousness.”  This will lead to our greater goodness.

My theological term for these widely held beliefs is: Bovine Poopie

The Bible (perhaps the best book ever written on human nature) teaches that mankind is depraved (or corrupt) to the very core of our existence. Wickedness affects our mind, and our soul (will & emotions); even our physical body can suffer the consequences of human immorality.  By nature, every man, woman and child is predisposed to depravity.

While Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Saddam Hussein, Jeffery Dahmer, Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy, are all extreme examples of unbridled human depravity, racial and ethnic tensions, riots and looting in our streets, rape and murder in our communities, drug and alcohol addictions, sexual perverts, lying and cheating politicians, and corrupt and immoral clergy are also rooted in the human depravity problem.

Does this mean that humanity is incapable of producing good people? No, it does not. The capacity to do something virtuous and the condition of a depraved inner being (the human spirit) are two entirely different things.  Mankind is certainly capable of decent behavior, good deeds, and even outwardly upholding some portion of the “Divine Law”.  Nevertheless, we are all born with a flawed (depraved) human nature that can never meet the standard necessary to be truly pleasing to the faultless and Divine Creator of human life.  Depravity is first a spiritual problem.

The Biblical writer Paul put it this way in the Newer Testament of the Bible:

10 “As the Scriptures say, No one is good—no one in all the world is innocent. 11 No one has ever really followed God’s paths or even truly wanted to. 12 Every one has turned away; all have gone wrong. No one anywhere has kept on doing what is right; not one.” (Romans 3:10-12 – Living Bible)

Mankind has been weighed in the balance scales of a perfect God and we are all found malevolent. We are the walking dead – in trespasses and depravities (Ephesians 2:1); and our very nature predestines us to be the children of (God’s) wrath. (Ephesians 2:3). For my theologically minded friends, this is also known as the condition of spiritual death. Depravity goes part and parcel with human nature. We are all born with a “spiritual gene” that makes us bad to the bone.

I know what you’re thinking; “compared to some, I am a good person.” I understand.  You’ve never killed anyone. You consider yourself to be kind and compassionate. “Live and let live”, that’s your motto.  I believe you.  That was my mindset heretofore as well.  But, human depravity is not relative – it is absolute. Your behavior is irrelevant. Even one evil thought; one malignant intention, – acted upon or not – is proof of corruption’s seed in your very nature. 23 “Yes, all have transgressed; all have fallen short of God’s perfect ideal.” (Romans 3:23)

We lived depravity and called it truth, silencing our dreaming, and our love, discarding things holy.”  ― John Daniel Thieme

Charles H. Spurgeon was a gifted orator and prolific author. His sermons were said to hold his listeners spellbound at the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London where he was the Pastor for 38 years. He was also known for his outspoken opposition to the open-minded and matter-of-fact theological tendencies in the Church of his day. (Hello?) Here is an excerpt from one of his great discourses:

“There are some professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration; but, from my inmost heart, I loathe such speeches more and more every day that I live. Those who talk in such a boastful fashion must be constituted very differently from me. While they are congratulating themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ’s Cross, and marvel that I am saved at all, for I know that I am saved. I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all—to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all—to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all considering what a polluted debased, depraved nature I find still within my soul, notwithstanding all that divine grace has done in me.”

“In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. Some Christians never seem to find this out. I almost wish that they might not do so, for it is a painful discovery for anyone to make; but it has the beneficial effect of making us cease from trusting in ourselves, and causing us to glory only in the Lord.”  – Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)

Spurgeon did not mince words when it came to his disdain for self-centered Christianity or as he put it, “professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration.

Far from being smug, Charles marveled at the wonder of his own rescue from depravity. I like his contrasts:

  • I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all
  • I have to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all
  • I have to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all

Me too, Charles, me too. Spurgeon laments that, “In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. “Some Christians never seem”, he said “to find this out”.  My God, my God, how true.  Could we all let that sink in for a moment? From the gutter-most to the uttermost – we are all depraved.

True gospel preaching always changes the heart. It either awakens it or hardens it.” ― Chan Kilgore

For me, life has been salted with generous amounts of affirmation (sometimes admiration) and peppered with many a flattering word.  I have regularly experienced the milk of human kindness.  To be honest, I’ve really enjoyed it.  Who wouldn’t?   But the longer I live, the more necessary I find it to explore the ugliness of my own depravity. I recognize the treachery in my heart (human nature) and my propensity for mischief. The duplicity inside of me exposes not only my appetite for self-indulgence but my ability to excuse it. Openly acknowledging that I will always struggle with this sin-nature is liberating. It reminds me that I am at the mercy of my Liberator (Jesus) every day and it makes me grateful for the grace that Almighty God has shown to me.

The Newer Testament writer Paul understood this very well. He said,

12-16 I am deeply grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ (to whom I owe all that I have accomplished) for trusting me enough to appoint me his minister, despite the fact that I had previously blasphemed his name, persecuted his Church and damaged his cause. I believe he was merciful to me because what I did was done in the ignorance of a man without faith, and then he poured out his grace upon me, giving me tremendous faith in, and love for, himself. This statement is completely reliable and should be universally accepted:—“Christ Jesus entered the world to rescue sinners”. I realize that I was the worst of them all, and that because of this very fact God was particularly merciful to me. It was a kind of demonstration of the extent of Christ’s patience towards the worst of men; to serve as an example to all whom in the future should trust him for eternal life”. (1 Timothy 1:12-16 – Phillips)

How is that for transparency? Here is the author of over half of the New Testament letters admitting that he looks at himself as being among the worst of men. He attributes his reformation to the mercy, grace, faith and love of God. In essence Paul says that the Liberator Jesus entered this world to rescue bad people like him. Where does that leave us? At best, we are all bad people in need of reclamation.

Paul also observed that it is human nature to know what is right and yet still do what is wrong.

21-25 “When I come up against the Law I want to do what is good, but in practice I do evil. My conscious mind whole-heartedly endorses the Law, yet I observe an entirely different principle at work in my nature. This is in continual conflict with my conscious attitude, and makes me an unwilling prisoner to the law of sin and death. In my mind I am God’s willing servant, but in my own nature I am bound fast, as I say, to the law of sin and death. It is an agonizing situation, and who on earth can set me free from the clutches of my sinful nature? I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord”.   (Romans 7:21-25 –Phillips)

In this never ending tug of war between right and wrong within us, here’s the million dollar question: who or what on this earth can set me free from the control of my corrupt (depraved) nature?  Can Religion?  Not a chance.  A popular preacher?  Sorry.  Self-help gurus?  Please. The Government?  Yea right, I know you’re not that stupid.  Freedom at the very core level of our human nature comes only through the Liberator Jesus who said that He alone was the way, the truth, and the life.  Listen to what the Newer Testament writer Peter said,

3-4 He gives us everything we need for life and for holy living. He gives it through His great power. As we come to know Him better, we learn that He called us to share His own shining-greatness and perfect life. Through His shining-greatness and perfect life, He has given us promises. These promises are of great worth and no amount of money can buy them. Through these promises you can have God’s own life in you now that you have gotten away from the sinful things of the world which came from wrong desires of the flesh (corrupt human nature). (2 Peter 1:3-4 – NLV)

Herein rests the key: only when we share in the perfect nature of our Creator (his Spirit living within us) through our surrender to and trust in the Liberator Jesus can we experience true freedom.  This is how we escape the depravity of our fallen nature and the corruption that is at work in this world.

On his brief visit to the earth, Jesus offered liberty to all who would choose to follow him. Without that freedom, we are merely drifting toward the rocks of inevitable destruction. Jesus is still reaching out to us pathetic humans. Today he is extending a great opportunity to you. Call it a gift of hope.

Hope? That’s right. According to the scriptures, HOPE is the anchor of the human soul, fixed in the very certainty of the promises that Jesus made to all who believe in him. Promises like this one:

“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away (from the earth) to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming back again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know the road I am going to take.” (John 14-1-4)

Now, remember, that same Jesus who said that He is the way, the truth and the life, also said that He is the road (pathway) that we must follow!

Can anyone say ROAD TRIP?  Let’s get going!!!

Great God of this universe, you alone know us for who we really are. Your great love for mankind was demonstrated when you sent the Liberator Jesus to implement your plan of rescue for the lost human population of this slowly dying planet. Please help my friends who seek a better way to be drawn to the hope that you offer today – the Liberator Jesus – one way, one truth, one life. I ask this in his name. 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
If God doesn’t soon bring judgment upon America, He’ll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” – Ruth Graham 

It seems to me dear reader that, to borrow a phrase from Bob Dylan, “Times they are a changing”.  But, many of the cultural shifts may not necessarily be for the better.  Now, I’m not one of those people who whine about how much we’ve lost since “the good old days.”  No sir, every generation has faced difficulties, struggles and uncertainties.  Still, something is very different in this most disturbing hour here on Spaceship earth.  Our societies are devolving at an accelerated pace and becoming what the Biblical writers would call “a wicked and perverse generation” controlled by “a brood of vipers.”

You doubt me?  Let’s talk.

In the USA, we kill thousands of tiny preborn human beings every day with impunity; giving no regard to their right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   If you dare question this practice you are usually met by a screaming horde of feminists and assorted liberal whines that defend the practice under the ruse of “choice” and “freedom over my body.”

And what about all of this gender confusion.  Not sure if you’re a boy or a girl?  Maybe you should enroll in an anatomy class.  Frankly, young man, I do not care what sex you “identify” with today, you do not belong in a restroom with my daughter.  Transgender rights?  You can label it anything you like.  I’m sticking with the old word – perversion.  What ever happened to the societal practice of passing sound judgment upon the goodness or badness of human action and character (i.e.: moral scrutiny)?  I guess that responsibility was usurped by freaks and the lunatic fringe after we started deportation proceedings against Almighty God and began electing valueless and spineless politicians to rule our land (with a few notable exceptions, of course).

Children are murdering their parents and one another.  In some cities, law and order is despised. Racism is the new catchphrase to justify certain antisocial and criminal behaviors.  Wicked and perverse practices are now deemed acceptable while Christians are routinely abused, smeared and in some cases utterly reviled – right here in the USA.  Need I go on?

Ladies and Gentleman:  Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah.

He that becomes protector of evil shall surely become its prisoner.” ― Augustine of Hippo

Why the correlation to these extinct Biblical metropoleis? That’s a fair question. Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with unrepentant social depravity. They also represent the outcome of such societies – sudden collapse and destruction.

The Bible’s Newer Testament writer Peter once made this cogent observation:

5“And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment” – 2 Peter 2:5-9 – NLT

Referenced in this ancient text is a man called Lot. He was a righteous person living in a wicked city. The relentless depravity he experienced as a citizen of Sodom really stressed him out. I can commiserate. There are no shortages of “spiritual and social agonies” in my neck of the woods either. But truthfully, I also find it rather exciting to be alive at this moment in time. The decline and fall of a civilization doesn’t happen every day and, here we are with front row seats!

Some of my friends and colleagues get a bit irritated with me because I am not perpetually foaming at the mouth over the condition of the world. To what end? The world is what it is. I do pray for my nation regularly, but I have also read the back of the book (Bible). Depravity and the eventual decline and collapse of humanity has been predicted for thousands of years. My perpetual anxiety over the condition of the fallen human race would fix nothing. Instead, the constant irritation would just steal my joy and depress me.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr

Of course, I take the dictates of my Christian faith as serious as a heart attack. I am not ashamed to speak the truth that I have learned from the scriptures whenever possible and prudent. If you are a regular reader, you already know that. Swimming against the tide of popular culture has become for me an Olympic sport. But, like Noah, I am also quietly preparing my ark and waiting for the dreadful storm to begin.

The Liberator Jesus also made reference to the times of Noah on his visit to the earth. Here is what he said,

37“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man, comes.” – Matthew 24:37-39

As in the days of Noah, the warning signs are everywhere today but people simply refuse to believe them. The “preachers of righteousness” are routinely mocked, scorned, despised and rejected. It’s a “new awakening”.  Out with the old ways; welcome the new world order and (soon) a one world government.  Such an amazing deception as the rank and file of our society slowly succumbs to an unquestioned belief in a “new age” philosophy.  In so doing, the propaganda of an anti-Christ whose spirit has long been at work in the world continues to spread.   This too was predicted nearly 2000 years go in the ancient scriptures:

1, 3-4 “… And now, what about the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ? …For that day will not come until two things happen: first, there will be a time of great rebellion against God, and then the man of rebellion himself will come—the son of hell. He will defy every god there is and tear down every other object of adoration and worship. He will go in and sit as God in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

9-12 …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 2:1, 3-4, 9-12

I for one do not really care what happens to this planet as a whole.   This world is not my home; just passing through folks.  My true concern is for the people who are blindly wandering the decks of spaceship earth in search of the true meaning of existence.  The secular education establishment, news media, social media, entertainment industry and liberalized religions are all doing their best to sow the seeds of destruction.  I want to spend my time reaching out to this doomed and dying world with a message about God’s love and His liberating grace toward mankind.

When the Liberator Jesus first visited our earth, He made the scandalous claim that He was the emissary of God.  His mission: liberate the doomed and stranded human race.  Here is something straight from his lips that our politically correct society really hates:   

“I am the Way – yes, and the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father (GOD) except by means of me.” – John 14:6

Yikes – so much for religious diversity.  How insensitive and intolerant.  Jesus was a BIGOT!

I agree. The unvarnished message of the Christian faith is offensive and radical to a lot of people. Perhaps this is why so many of our present-day mainstream denominational churches seem to care little about spreading the real message of the Liberator Jesus.  Churchianity has replaced genuine Christianity in our culture. The power of a simple faith in the Almighty One is now diluted and in some respects made ineffectual by religious traditions.  Some postmodern churches are so busy trying to be culturally relevant that they have become evangelically impotent.

Jesus never asked me to give to an organization the kind of exclusive devotion he demands from his disciples. Over and over, Jesus calls people to himself – out of the church, the culture, the economy, and the family.”Michael Spencer

The Liberator Jesus said “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life” (John 14:6).  How much clearer does his message have to be stated?  He is THE way to God. He delivered THE absolute Truth when he visited earth embodied in human form.  He alone can give passage to THE infinite life beyond this time space continuum to those who put their trust in him.  It baffles me how such a plain and simple statement can be so misrepresented and misunderstood – especially among the supposed Christian population.

It comes down to this: do you want the freedom and the life that only the Creator of all things – your creator – (God) can give to you? Then you must decide if you believe what Jesus said. He made the bold (and to some infuriatingly intolerant) assertion that there is only one pathway to the one true God and he is that pathway.  Like it or not, Jesus alone controls the power to set you free from the grip of your corrupt nature.

Apostate Clergy, Godless governments and the countless New Age gurus are useless when it comes to freeing a doomed human spirit.  There is but one solution to escape condemnation – the Liberator Jesus and the message that He came to share.

1-2 “No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are in Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life in Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.” – Romans 8:2 – J.B. Phillips New Testament –

Here is what I know for sure, God has anchored my drifting heart to Himself through the message and the mission of the Liberator Jesus. He has shown me the way out from under the weight (vicious circle) of man-made religion and its laws.  In the message of Jesus, I have found a new “spiritual principle of life”. I know that my right standing with God results from His love for me – not my good behavior.  I am no longer a prisoner of my fallen nature.  That malevolent side of me is still lurking deep inside but the Holy Spirit (who now lives within me) has control and His power unfettered my once wicked soul.   As long as I continue to walk in harmony with that Holy Spirit within, my wicked nature is kept in check and if I stumble he picks me up and forgives me.  I can do all things because His spirit living within my human spirit empowers me.

Judgement will eventually come to our modern Sodom.  I’m not worried.  Like Lot, I plan to “flee the city” before that great and terrible day of the Lord.  How about you?

14-15 “And if no one will welcome you or even listen to what you have to say, leave that house or town, and once outside it shake off the dust of that place from your feet. Believe me, Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better in the Day of Judgment than that town.” ― Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 10:14-15)

Almighty God, I have many friends who long to know honest, untainted truth. Some have been confused, hurt and angered by the conflicting messages of organized religion. Others struggling with misconception, somehow just got lost. I understand their frustration. I too walked away from you for a season in the prodigal days of my youth.  Please help my friends to see that you are calling them to get to know you. Show them that this is not about joining a religion or embarking on a new church experience. You want a relationship with them.  Thank you for touching their lives somehow, someway. I ask these things in the name of my redeemer – the Liberator Jesus.  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
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Henry S. Haskins —

History is rife with the periodic destruction of accumulated human erudition. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, for instance, much of the Egyptian-Greco-Roman knowledge base was scattered or lost. The great archives at Alexandria were burned, pillaged and destroyed. And then, during the Middle-Ages, when Baghdad was considered a major intellectual center of the ancient world, the Mongols devastated their library. Scholars at the “House of Wisdom” (as it was called) had by then translated vast amounts of salvaged Greek and Roman scholarship into Arabic. This malicious destruction resulted in another major loss of written material. There are many more examples, of course.

Today, I find myself thinking about the profound impact that the world-wide web has had upon the storage and distribution of human knowledge. Some say that the modern information superhighway may even one day rival the great historical repositories of the past – if it survives.

When I was a growing up, a reliable source for quickly referencing trustworthy information on a wide variety of subjects was an encyclopedia. Some of my younger readers just said to themselves “encyclo…what?”

Basically, an encyclopedia was (and still is) a comprehensive collection of texts, photographs, illustrations, etc. This assemblage of knowledge was usually arranged in alphabetized printed volumes. If you wanted to research the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forrest, for example, you simply opened the “A”, “B” or “R” volume of the encyclopedia and referenced that subject. Today, of course, we have electronic versions of these classic works, including certain avant-garde varieties like Wikipedia.

With the advent of the internet and “search engines” it is now possible to explore practically any subject and read a bazillion differing viewpoints on that topic. However, I have found that many of the articles readily available online are filled with unsubstantiated rubbish. In preparing to write this composition on the subject of confidence, I decided to do a “search” of that word. The result? Contradictory information and sometimes laughable recommendations that could easily lead simple readers down the road to overwhelming confusion. The internet data base of “knowledge” seems to span the ridicules to the sublime.

So my friends, I shall now add my thoughts to this tangled electronic web of information. My subject today is CONFIDENCE.

Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. But they also have confidence and that is why they do not let these feelings stop them.” – Unknown

From a secular perspective, Confidence has been described by some as comfortable certainty. From what I have read, if we feel good about ourselves, have an appropriate level of self-esteem and believe in our own proficiencies, we are confident people. Okay. That sounds plausible.

Sometimes, confidence can be misinterpreted for arrogance and visa-versa. But, arrogance usually involves a condescending attitude toward others. Pompous, patronizing, superior, a legend in your own mind? You’re considered arrogant. Certain about the truth of what you know and who you are? That’s called Confidence.

And let’s not forget good old hubris which is typically a personality flaw found mostly in the rich and/or powerful who overestimate their individual capabilities or significance. The hubristic suffer, to some extent, a disconnection from reality; “thinking of themselves more highly than they should”. These folks are generally delusional. Hubris is also known as politician’s disease. Okay, I made that last one up.

A genuinely confident person is neither arrogant nor delusional (full of hubris). Confident people are however – decisive. They will, as the sayings go, put their money where their mouth is because, actions speak louder than words. Confidence can help us to convert our thoughts and ideas into actions in ways that far exceed the superficial of the daily grind.

You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in a minister or religion.  If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person or institution we would be standing on shifting sand.” – Francis A Schaeffer

What about spiritual confidence? Now, don’t tune me out. I am a Christian, but I am not that stereotypical Bible thumper with the bad hair and dimples. I don’t sell Jordan River water, Holy Land prayer cloths or any other “Jesus Junk” on my website and I am not asking you for any financial support. Conversely, I have studied the Bible for 35+ years and I do have a PH.D in Theology (although I am not asking you to consider that as anything special either).

In my world view, confidence hinges more upon a deep and abiding faith in someone far greater than me and the inner freedom that comes from a clear conscience than it does on just trusting in myself. What has amazed me as a follower of the Liberator Jesus is not only the profound peace that comes from knowing I am free from any form of inner guilt and shame through my acceptance of His redemptive work, but also the tremendous confidence that I have developed because of the empowering message He came to spread while visiting this lost and slowly dying planet.

Listen to this quote from the Bible’s Newer Testament,

19 “Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 And even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. 23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.” (1 John 3:19-23 – New Living Translation)

Let that first line sink in: our actions will reveal if we know the truth. I believe that means our actions do indeed speak louder than words. If we look at “truth” as being absolute – black is indeed black – than to know the truth would certainly help one find confidence. It really is that simple.

Anyone can claim “I believe”. But it will always be our actions that prove the legitimacy of such an assertion. Telling you that I can fly like a bird is meaningless if I won’t prove it by jumping off the roof.

I have so much confidence in the reality of Jesus that I feel no pressure to try to make people act or be a certain way. I’m banking everything on the fact that God actually changes people.” – Erwin McManus

I have put my absolute trust in the supremacy of the Almighty (God) who lives outside of the limitations of this (His) created world. As a result, my faith along with a clear conscience yields a confidence that sustains me in this life and it will carry me into that next dimension (with God) when my mortality has run its course. So again, real confidence is a product of a deep and abiding faith (or trust) in the Creator and a conscience that has been made free from guilt and shame.

Our conscience (which is also known as the voice of our human spirit) acts like a validation filter. It is what keeps us honest before God and with ourselves,

21 And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God.” (1 John 3:21- AMP)

It is this combination of faith and a clear conscience that produces the genuine confidence we all need. Faith says “God, I know you will keep your word to me and you will fulfill every promises you have ever made concerning me”. In a way, faith in itself is CONFIDENCE. Whenever there is an absence of genuine faith (trust in God) there is also an absence of true confidence.

Turning again to the Bible’s Newer Testament.

18-20 “Timothy my son, I give you the following charge. And may I say, before I give it to you, that it is in full accord with those prophecies made at your ordination which sent you out to battle for the right armed only with your faith and a clear conscience. Some, alas, have laid these simple weapons contemptuously aside (faith and a clear conscience) and, as far as their faith is concerned, have run their ships on the rocks. Hymenaeus and Alexander are men of this sort, and as a matter of fact I had to expel them from the Church to teach them not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:18-20 – Phillips)

The writer, Paul, was about to give instructions to a Christian Minister named Timothy. But first, he reminded him of his heritage. “You were sent out to do battle on the side of what is right armed only with a clear conscience and your faith”, he told him. Next came this warning: some who have laid aside these simple weapons (faith and a clear conscience) and done so with contempt, end up a shipwreck. Here’s the take away: our confidence in the Almighty will run aground (become a shipwreck) when we fail to listen to the voice of our own human spirit (i.e. our conscience). But, if our heart (our conscience) does not accuse us – in other words, when our conscience is clear – we are full of confidence in both our relationship with the Almighty and in our human existence as we live out each day in accordance with His plan and purpose for our lives. To put it another way; keeping your little life boat afloat requires faith and a clear conscience.

Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends.” – Alphonsus Liguori

Now, here is the best part: when you have placed your absolute trust in that Spirit entity whom we simply refer to as God, and your conscience has been wiped clean of all guilt and shame by Him, prayer is natural and simple. And remember, prayer is nothing more than talking with the one who is able to do extremely and profusely more than we could ever ask of Him or even dream possible. Listen to this:

14-15 “We have such confidence in him that we are certain that he hears every request that is made in accord with his own plan. And since we know that he invariably gives his attention to our prayers, whatever they are about, we can be quite sure that our prayers will be answered.” (1 John 5:14 – Phillips)

That excites me; we can be quite sure that our prayers will be answered as long as they line up with His plan!

Have you had a heart to heart talk with the Divine Spirit today? Have you ever? Forget religion. This is not about the Church, the Mosque, the Synagogue, the Miao, Gong, or Tan. The Liberator Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). His visitation to our planet had but one purpose, “to seek and save that which has been lost” (Luke 19:10). The Creator wants to know you. Go ahead, ask Him about it. He will answer.  He has promised to answer.  We’ve got His word on it:

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you. And I will show you great and wonderful things which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3 – NLV)

May God bless you and show you just how much he loves you.

Είθε ο Θεός να σας ευλογεί και να σας δείξει πόσο πολύ σας αγαπά .

Eíthe o Theós na sas evlogeí kai na sas deíxei póso polý sas agapá.

Que Deus abençoe você e lhe mostre  o quanto ele te ama.

Che Dio vi benedica e vi mostrerà quanto ti ama .

Que Dios los bendiga y le mostrará lo mucho que te ama.

Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous montrer combien il vous aime.

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
Between the radiant white of a clear conscience and the coal black of a conscience sullied by sin lie many shades of gray – where most of us live… Not perfect but not beyond redemption.” ― Sherry L. Hoppe

She tried to smile, but I wasn’t convinced.  “You look upset”, I said.  Alexa (not her real name) blew a puff of air from the corner of her mouth clearing a few unruly hairs from her eyes and then she said with a sigh, “Is it that obvious?” To me it was. I’ve been coming to this Florida Gulf Coast eatery for years.  I’ve spent many an hour writing at my favorite hi-top outside on the “tiki” deck overlooking the water. Alexa has attended my table regularly. In between serving food and refreshing my beverage glass, we’ve had more than a few conversations. You might say that I have gotten to know a bit about her. Today, she was not her usual self.

It turns out that Alexa had argued with her spouse the night before. I thought to myself, “nothing unusual there”; anyone who has been married more than a week has most likely gone down that road. “It was over nothing”, she said, “but…my words, my tone…I just burst out with some hurtful things and my conscience is really bothering me.” My response? I asked her what her conscience was saying. She laughed and then said, “Tell him I’m sorry.” Grinning, I inquired as to what she planned to do with that advice. She whispered, “I’m gonna listen to my heart.”

Alexa had a troubled conscience – that little voice inside that we so often banter with each day.  Her tell-tale heart kept pounding out a reminder that she was wrong.  But why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if fundamental morality was somehow programed into our human DNA? Consider this verse from the Bible’s Newer Testament writer Paul,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, 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
Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not ‘I love you’ for this or that reason, not ‘I love you if you love me.’ It’s love for no reason, love without an object.” – Ram Dass

For those old enough to remember the summer of 1967, you may recall the monumental telecast called Our World. It was the first ever live global television link. Over 400 million people in 25 countries watched the program which was broadcast live via satellite on the 25th of June. The British pop superstars known collectively as The Beatles were asked to write a song for this historical event. The result was titled, “All you need is Love”. The song had a very simple (if not repetitive) message; love is all you need. To put it another way; there is nothing you cannot do if you do it in love.

During that same summer of 1967, the hippie counterculture movement reached an apex in the United States as an estimated 100,000 people converged upon a neighborhood in San Francisco known as Haight-Ashbury. This human fondue of rock music, psychedelic drugs, unbridled creativity and uninhibited sexual and social behaviors put on an unforgettable spectacle. It had a profound effect on western societies worldwide as people began to question just about everything once defined as normal. Today, historians often refer to this societal phenomenon as the Summer of Love, and it is still considered a defining moment of the 1960s.

I think it’s safe to say that love has always been a pervasive topic among the human species. It is celebrated in the arts and entertainment, used as a social hammer and anvil and dragged through the mud of human insincerity ad nauseam. And yet, in all my life, I have never met anyone who really understood (let alone practiced) true unconditional love.

Can we talk?

Confession time: I’m really good at covetousness, lust and greed – love’s counterfeits. Occasionally, I have stumbled into a genuine expression of unadulterated love, and of course I expected a congressional medal of honor for such selfless acts. One thing I have learned about unconditional love; you will know it when you see it – it’s that rare.

You doubt me. Okay, let me ask you a question, how do you react when someone lets you down or fails to live up to your expectations? Thought so. Wish I had a dime for every time I have heard someone say, “If he/she really loved me…” This phrase is usually followed by a “condition”. Why not just say, “When you do and say what makes me happy, that will prove that you love me and then I will love you back.” Here’s the problem, I can’t seem to find that definition of love anywhere in the scriptures. What I do find is just the opposite. The Bible teaches us to take no account for how we are treated but instead to treat others the way you would like them to treat us. (Luke 6:31)  In fact, Jesus put it this way,

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 48 In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:43-48 – The Message)

Listen, there is no excuse for those who are abusive, callous, cruel, or unfaithful in relationships. Sometimes we must be confrontational for the sake of correction. But we should avoid abusive, callous or cruel language to “correct” an abusive, callous, or cruel person. That’s hypocrisy.

I converted to Christianity because I was convinced by Jesus Christ as a character, as a personality. I loved him, his wisdom, his love, his unconditional love.” – Mosab Hassan Yousef

Here is how the Newer Testament writer Paul defines real love,

 4 “Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him. All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Incredible (and embarrassing). Let’s bullet point that list of love’s characteristics. Love is:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Never jealous or envious
  • Never boastful or proud
  • Never arrogant or selfish
  • Not demanding
  • Not irritable or touchy
  • It does not hold a grudge
  • Doesn’t keep records of peoples mistakes
  • Hates injustice
  • Rejoices in the truth

Does that sound like you? Me neither. But wait, there is more. Paul said, if you love someone, you will be loyal to them no matter what the cost. You will always believe in them, always expect the best of them, and always stand your ground in defending them.

Sure, it sounds a bit idealistic. Who could possibly love like that? We can. But not without great effort. This ideal love may seem beyond your grasp, but no one will fault you for trying to attain it. Remember, everything in this life has an expiration date – except love. Love is eternal, and love never fails!

Unconditional love is dangerous. It leaves you vulnerable. That’s why some people avoid it altogether. They like to play it safe. C.S. Lewis wrote,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be made vulnerable.” ― C.S. Lewis

The Liberator Jesus once said,

9-15 “I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. You must go on living in my love. If you keep my commandments you will live in my love just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and live in his love. I have told you this so that you can share my joy, and that your happiness may be complete. This is my commandment: that you love each other as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this—that a man should lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do. I shall not call you servants any longer, for a servant does not share his master’s confidence. No, I call you friends, now, because I have told you everything that I have heard from the Father.” (John 15:13-15 – Phillips)

I almost can’t believe that the Creator of all things, The Almighty, has called me His friend. I’m flabbergasted really (knowing that I am so unworthy of this privilege). All He asks of our friendship is obedience to His truth and that I learn how to love like He does. That is a pretty tall order. I’m sure to stumble and fall on occasion. It’s okay, He will pick me up, set me straight, and I will try again. That is what unconditional love does.

Today, the Divine Spirit of the Almighty invites us to love with wild abandon. Are you up for the challenge? Then let’s get started right away. All you need is love… Love is all you need…

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