Posts Tagged ‘Faithfulness’

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C. S. Lewis –

Florida is known around the world for its balmy weather. Floridians enjoy 11,000 miles of rivers, streams & waterways. We have 1800 miles of coastline with over 1200 miles of sandy beaches. There are roughly 4500 islands measuring 10 acres or more scattered around the peninsula.  Florida boasts 760 species of wildlife that exist nowhere else in the world (if you ask me, most are creepy bugs). The Florida Panther is our state animal. We have countless Amphibians, Alligators, Crocodiles, Turtles, Sting Rays, Dolphins, Black Bears, Snakes, Manatees, Deer, scores of fresh and salt water fish, and a myriad of unusual bird species – including the largest population of Bald Eagles in the Continental United States. Our state bird is the mosquito. Okay, that’s not true. Ironically, with all of the exotic wildlife in Florida, our official State bird is actually – wait for it – the Mockingbird. I kid you not, the Mockingbird. Yes friends, Florida selected the common Northern Mockingbird as a state symbol. (Incidentally the mocker is the bird of choice for five different states: Texas, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee).

Northern Mockingbirds have extraordinary vocal abilities. They can learn as many as 200 distinct songs over their lifetime, including those of any other bird as well as the sounds of many insects and amphibians. A mocker’s song is an echo of the sounds that surround them. These talented little virtuosos can sing for hours and never repeat the same thing twice. In fact, they are such skilled mimics; they have been known to imitate washing machines, car alarms and sirens. They do this so well, that you would not know you were listening to a bird.

I wonder how many people live a mockingbird life; echoing the cultural noise that surrounds them by repeating beliefs, attitudes and ideas that they know little to nothing about.   Mockingbird people often lack originality, vision and revelation. They become just another someone saying something about something that someone said something about.

I suppose we’ve all played the mockingbird role at one time or another. I have. But I’m in rehab now. It’s sort of like AA – Hi, my name is Joe and I am a recovering mockingbird. But this is where our comparison to the innocent little songbird will have to end, because human mockers can be far more treacherous than a perfunctory little bird. Let’s talk about mockery.

By definition a mocker:

  • Treats people with ridicule or contempt
  • Is scornful or arrogant
  • Causes others to appear irrelevant,ineffectual, or intolerable

As a Christian, my worldview is rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic. When I encounter anything that opposes the teachings of the scriptures, then I reject it. Christians who scrutinize the beliefs and teachings of any individual, organization or social structures (including governments) are not necessarily narrow-minded bigots. We are simply being true to our heartfelt convictions and thus obedient to the will of our creator (GOD).

Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone – except God. – Billy Graham

Today people of deep religious faith, who believe in traditional family values and once generally accepted normative social behaviors, are regularly treated with ridicule and contempt (mocked). It seems like our social order has devolved into a quasi-free-for-all. It reminds me of a passage in the biblical Book of Judges,

25“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:25 – Amplified Bible

This verse refers to a period in the history of the nation of Israel that began sometime after the death of Joshua and ended around the beginning of the reign of King Saul. When Joshua and his governance team were in power, the nation enjoyed relative decency and order. But after his death, times changed and there gradually came chaos. No distinct leadership existed in Israel during the era of the multiple Judges. And, there was no God in the land.

“Is he saying that nobody believed in God anymore?” No, I am not saying that all the people had renounced their faith and become impious boasters, agnostics and atheists. It was actually worse than that. The people simply paid lip service to the creator (GOD). They were mock believers. Their worship was meaningless as they followed the ridged formalities of empty religion. The scriptures describe their condition perfectly,

13 “The Lord said, “These people show respect to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Their worship of me is worth nothing. They teach rules that men have made.” – Isaiah 29:13 – New Life Version

Does any of this sound familiar? Right now, in our lifetime, many people are also paying lip service to the creator (GOD). This is an age where the darkened hearts of the spiritually blind habitually recite hollow prayers and follow the ridged formalities of empty organized religion. And paganism is everywhere.

I’ve only paid lip service to a spiritual life.” – Sting

What about those who are in positions of power? It seems to me that much of the world is suffering from an acute shortage of genuine leadership because there is no God in the land. When our heads of state are wise in their own arrogance (and not full of the reverential fear of the Almighty), you have the potential for wicked leadership. With the blind leading the blind, the likelihood for a disaster is increasing rapidly. The scriptures put it concisely,

1-5 “… in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God (mocking), disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will be hardheaded and never give in to others; they will be constant liars and troublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at (mock) those who try to be good. They will betray their friends; they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.” – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 – Living Bible

That’s quite an indictment. The bible is less than enthusiastic in describing the character of humans as the end of the age draws near. Just remember, if you want to discern spiritual pretense, look behind the facades of religion and you’ll most likely find patterns of behavior that negate its validity. The warning is clear; do not be deceived by the songs of the mockingbirds.

To mock God is to pretend to love and serve him when we do not; to act in a false manner, to be insincere and hypocritical in our professions, pretending to obey him, love, serve, and worship him, when we do not. Anything that amounts to insincerity is mockery”  – Charles G. Finney

Mockers and scoffers are often the outspoken freethinkers. When it comes to the Christian faith, they ridicule, discredit, misrepresent and oppose believers and the teachings of the scriptures. This brand of skeptic and scoffer has been around since the foundation of Christianity and they will be here until the final trumpet sounds. Not merely content to disagree, they look for ways to make the beliefs of millions appear irrelevant, incompetent, or intolerable. The Newer Testament writer Peter warned about them,

“First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will come scoffers (mockers) who will do every wrong they can think of and laugh at the truth. This will be their line of argument: “So Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? He’ll never come! Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly as it was since the first day of creation.” – 2 Peter 3:3-4

Maybe it’s just me, but I think every family has at least one of these mockers. You can do and say just about any crazy thing you like in their presence – except tell the truth from a scriptural perspective.

To be fair, not all who fit the biblical description of a mocker are loud and obnoxious. Some quietly scoff or laugh under their breath, while others politely dismiss faith in God with self-deceiving defenses like “that’s not my thing” or “God is not for everyone”. But since the Almighty himself has set the rules for the redemption of mankind, to dismiss Him is to mock him. It really doesn’t matter how polite, nice or kindhearted you are. God makes the rules, not us. If you want His help, His blessings and all of His many benefits, then you will have to learn to come to God on His terms.

Noah walked with God; he didn’t only preach righteousness, he acted it. He went through water and didn’t melt. He breasted the current of the popular opinion of his day, scorning alike the hatred and ridicule of the scoffers who mocked at the thought of there being but one way of salvation.” – Charles Studd

As the man called Jesus, God took on the form of a human being and lived among us. No one has ever seen God. Yet when Jesus visited our world, He made him known to all who have eyes to see. Jesus left no room for debate. He said unequivocally,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 – New Living Translation

Mockers will continue to heap contempt upon those who maintain that there is but one revealed way of salvation. Christians are to pay them no mind. Remain faithful and obedient to the Word of Truth. Continue to declare His certainty to all who will listen and “All things will work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Just one more thing, to all who would be mockers, consider this verse from the scriptures,

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those that live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. – Gal 6:7-8 – New Living Translation

Part of God’s nature is perfect justice. Plant a seed and you will reap a crop. Your actions have consequences. What you do will come back to you. It can hurt deeply to be ridiculed, mocked and scorned – out loud or in secret. But as children of the creator of all things (GOD) we will get over it. We will also continue to love and pray for the scornful. Because this one thing we know for certain, God cannot be mocked. He sees it all.  And one day He will have the final say – whether you believe it or not.

God, please let the blinders fall away so that some may find revelation at this moment and turn from their darkness to your marvelous light. Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back.” – Tommy Lasorda –

I can remember back to a time when the word loyalty really meant something.  People seemed more “connected” in those days.  That’s ironic because we had no cell phones, social media, or email.  In fact, all we had were land line telephones.  Most people did not even have an answering machine to take a message.  When we were not at home, oh well, they would call back later.  So how can I say that people were more connected at a time when there were less ways to connect? That’s simple, we actually related to each other.  Life was full of human interaction.  The term face time didn’t exist.  Why?  We didn’t need it.  That’s how we lived – up close and personal.  Connecting to the individuals in our various social circles was an intimate experience.  Today, more and more people prefer indirect forms of personal interaction through various proxy devices (smart phones, PC’s, etc.). Now don’t get your knickers in a swivet, I am not anti-technology – quite the opposite.  You name the device and I most likely own it.  My concerns lie in the relationship disconnect that many social media addicts manifest.  You doubt me?  Next time you are in a restaurant or other public place, make note of all the people texting instead of interacting.  (Does anyone have plans to stare at their phone some place exciting this weekend?)

I remind myself that I’m always more satisfied by human interaction than by a digital connection.” – Maulik Pancholy

Back in the Jurassic period of my youth, we had an honest sense of community.  People really looked out for one another and spent more time with each other.  We cared about the well-being of our neighbors.  Loyalty was the glue that held us all together.  Sure, we had the treacherous, the selfish and the miserable too.  And, there were those who simply did not deserve our loyalty at all.  But they were more the expectation – not the rule.  For the most part, loyalty was as common as a head cold when I was growing up. I can remember my mom shopping at Vinney’s corner market even when the big grocery store opened just two blocks away.  Ol’ Vinney charged higher prices and he didn’t have the wide assortment of merchandise like the new supermarket, but we shopped at Vinney’s out of loyalty.  After all, he was our friend and neighbor.  We went to school with his children and saw his family in church on Sunday.  Vinney was part of the fabric of our community – part of the give and take. So was old Mr. Frank.  He owned the big printing company in town.  Employed over 35 people.  Generally his business did very well, but of course, there were lean times.  Occasionally, new work orders would dry up for a season.  That’s just how the business cycle works.  One year, close to the Christmas holiday, Frank ran into a serious cash flow problem.  After considering all of his options, he sold some extra equipment to a smaller competitor and got a bridge loan from the local bank.  He put the money into the payroll first.  You see, Frank figured that his loyal employees were the reason that he and his family enjoyed a pretty good life.  Now it was his turn to demonstrate loyalty to all of them.  Every one of his employees had a good Christmas that year and from my perspective, God blessed old Mr. Frank with an abundance of work in the years to come.

Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to humans.” – John Grogan

So what happened to loyalty?  How did we end up in a world riddled with cold indifference?  I’ll start with the short answer – covetousness, lust and greed.  Loyalty and unselfishness gradually gave way to unfaithfulness and self-interest. Just look around.  Friendships are fleeting.  Okay, some relationships do last a lifetime, but many do not.  Have you ever been hurt by the disloyalty of someone you thought was your friend?  What about modern marriage?  These are the days of the prenuptial agreement.  Let’s sit down and spell out exactly how the marriage will be dissolved before we tie the knot.  What a joke.  Whatever happened to the notion of unconditional love?  And what about employer/employee loyalty? You may be the company hotshot today, but two weeks from now you’re just number 3 of the next 5 people being shown the door.  So much for company allegiance and job security.

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is silent understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” – Ann Landers

Loyalty is sometimes defined as a feeling of strong support for someone or something.  It is what compels us to remain faithful to our commitments and obligations.  My favorite description of loyalty is found in the Bible,

17 A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. (Proverbs 17:17 – Living Bible)

Loyalty is resilient.  In good times and bad, in sickness and in health, you can count on the faithfulness of a true friend.  God weighs the integrity of our hearts by the loyalty (love) we give to one another. In the words of the liberator Jesus as recorded in the Bible’s Newer Testament,

12 “This is my commandment: that you love each other as I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than this—that a man should lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do.”  (John 15:12-14 Living Bible)

Jesus also said this to his followers,

35 Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  (John 13:35 – Living Bible)

That kind of friendship (love) takes dedication.  Unconditional love is measured by how we act – not just the way we feel.  Loyalty is love in action – like the captain who goes down with his ship, the solider who takes a bullet for someone else or the Redeemer who died to free mankind. One more thing.  Loyalty is not limited to our earthly relationships.  God desires our loyalty as well.  Do you believe in God?  Have you asked for His help?  The New Testament writer James made this interesting observation,

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”  (James 1:5-7 – New Living Translation)

 No, God is not mean or controlling.  But He is precise.  If you want His help, His blessings and all of His benefits, then you will have to learn to come to God on His terms.  God does not respond to doubt, unbelief or divided loyalty.  James continued,

“Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and so, they are unstable in everything they do.”  (James 1:8 – New Living Translation)

Life is all about choices.  You can’t have it both ways.  It’s one thing to say, “I believe in God”, but that means very little if you live like you don’t.  You will never know the inner peace and joy that He can give if you continue to follow the ways of this doomed world system. His terms are simple enough.

28 “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28 – New Living Translation)

In the fullness of time the Creator stepped out from eternity into the fabric of our reality to rescue a lost people stranded on a doomed planet. He came as the man called Jesus and told of how the Almighty one offers us freedom, peace and joy. His politically incorrect and intolerant message declaring that there was only one way to God (and that He was the way) made some people mad. So they killed him. But that was all part of His plan and he walked out of the grave alive 3 days later. Hundreds saw him in the weeks that followed. And then one day, he said goodbye to his closest friends, promised He would return again, and before their eyes, He left the planet. His followers remain fiercely loyal; spreading a simple message of hope, love and redemption.  Jesus offers true liberty to all that hear his voice. He just might be calling your name again today.  He is forever loyal – even when we are not.  Why don’t you answer this time? You’ve got nothing to lose and you’ll gain freedom and life – now and forever.

Jesus, please help my friends today.  Show them your power to liberate and redeem their wandering souls. Great is your faithfulness (loyalty) to us.  May we be as faithful now (loyal) to you.  Amen.

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