Posts Tagged ‘Political’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul certainly does not mince words in describing how mankind would evolve down a long path of degradation. The way he defines the characteristics of human beings, particularly as we draw closer to the end of the age of man, is unnerving. Like it or not, Paul nailed it. Just look around.

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

Now, let me ask you two questions. First, could we be living in a period of prophetically predicted, difficult times? An era when “faith in God” to some is little more than outward appearance, and to others utterly meaningless? I am beginning to believe that we are. Let me elaborate.

There are contemporary writers and commentators who refer to the discord and social turmoil playing out before our eyes as a war between Political Parties. Others call it an ideological conflict between the viewpoints of Progressives, Socialists, and Conservatives. Some even say it is a struggle to defend our Democratic Constitutional Republic from those who wish to fundamentally transform society into a one world system – a.k.a. The New World Order.

I get it. Name the outward spectacle whatever you like, here’s my next question: what is the underlying cause of it all? Could this really be a spiritual problem? A free-for-all between light and darkness? And if so, what is the proper Christian response?

As men and women of faith, are we to choose sides and then engage in endless partisan arguments that only engender strife? (2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9) The political process is inherently dirty, tragically broken and miles away from the teachings of Jesus. Should we have an educated opinion? Yes. Should we care about our country? Of course. Should we vote? Absolutely. But it’s time we who are called the children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5) truly characterize what the Newer Testament writer Paul reminded the believers who lived in ancient Ephesus:

“…our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.” (Ephesians 6:12 Phillips)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace out.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie®, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com

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

There is nothing in the world as easy in giving as an opinion; consequently, in general, there are few things so utterly valueless. ― Charles William Day

It’s a beautiful morning. The Gulf waters are placid at the moment. This will most likely change later on today as the developing sea breezes herald the arrival of our prevalent afternoon thunderstorms. But for now, the pelicans are feasting on an abundant fish buffet, and the dolphins are entertaining the tourists who visit the docks while on holiday. Me? Just enjoying another “Floriday at the office” in this wonderful paradise that I call home. What’s that? Calling it a paradise is just my “opinion.” One man’s paradise could be another man’s hell. Well, if you’re not particularly fond of palm trees, beaches, exotic wild life, an abundance of tasty sea food, and fresh locally grown produce most of the year, I suppose that is true. The heat? Yes, it does get hot in the summer. But some love it hot – like me. So, yes, in my humble opinion, I indeed live in a sub-tropic paradise.

Speaking of opinions, have you noticed that just about everyone has an opinion about almost everything imaginable these days? Most share them quite freely and often with great passion. It seems to me that mankind is very… well, opinionated. Of course, that’s just my opinion (tee-hee).

According to the Genesis account of the origins of our species, the Creator brought forth mankind upon the earth and established some basic rules that were to be obeyed. Shortly thereafter man screwed up and when confronted offered his own opinion on what had occurred. It was the female named Eve’s opinion that the tempter Serpent was to blame for her indiscretion. The man Adam had a strong opinion as to who should be held accountable – he blamed “the woman” that the Creator had put in his life. But in the end, the great Architect paid no attention to either of their inapt opinions (or excuses, depending on how you want to look at it). He just stuck to the facts. They disobeyed a Divine directive and now they would suffer the consequences – opinions or excuses notwithstanding.

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” ― Harlan Ellison

Some may argue that everyone is “entitled” to their personal opinion, but I say, not so fast. That assertion has actually been referred to by many philosophers and truth-seekers as a logical fallacy. Proclaiming ones right to an opinion is often used as an excuse to support a position that is factually indefensible. Claiming a “right” to your opinion does not necessarily entitle you to speak out on a matter of which you have little knowledge or relevant expertise. In fact, that would make you opinionated which by definition means “to form (an opinion) prior to actual knowledge or experience.” Let me put it another way, a truly valid opinion is always defensible by facts (proofs, evidence). Like the fictional detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, in the old Dragnet television series would often say, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”

There are, of course, those for whom facts and truth are a troublesome annoyance. Take former Indiana Congressman Earl Landgrebe for instance. In 1974 he famously uttered these words during the Watergate hearings, “Don’t confuse me with facts: I’ve got a closed mind.” Ah, spoken like a quintessential politician (with a few rare exceptions, of course). And no, he was not a Socialist nor a liberal Democrat, he was actually a Republican. Sorry, just those pesky facts again.

You would think that living in the age of information and social media might just help to put an end to the rampant dispersing of misinformation and half-truths. Think again. It has actually exacerbated the problem. I can remember a time when our ideas were forged in the fires of realistic knowledge. We took our time, weighed the evidence, and pondered the many facets of a challenge or an argument before forming an opinion. Today, not so much. In this the so called “sound bite generation”, positions and decisions are often based upon short, sharp morsels of information and flashy “memes” spread via social media. Quite often the “information” isn’t even factual, thus the term “false news.”

Your opinion is your opinion, your perception is your perception–do not confuse them with “facts” or “truth”. Wars have been fought and millions have been killed because of the inability of men to understand the idea that EVERYBODY has a different viewpoint. ― John Moore

I can’t help but wonder if some people even know what a “fact” is anymore. Do you? I didn’t ask what you think a fact is. That would actually be your opinion. With all due respect, I am not really interested in your opinion right now. My question to you is, “what is a fact?” And by the way, the answer is not subjective. It doesn’t matter how you interpret a “fact”, deal with a “fact”, or if you disagree with a “fact”. A FACT is a fact. End of discussion. Sorry relativists and ye coddled masses, one man’s fact cannot be another man’s fiction.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “fact” is defined this way:

  • something that truly exists or happens
  • something that has actual existence
  • a true piece of information

A fact can be checked and backed up with evidence. For instance, on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. In a surprise victory, the Republican ticket of businessman Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence defeated the Democrat ticket of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, despite losing the plurality of the popular vote. Trump took office as the 45th President, and Pence as the 48th Vice President, on January 20, 2017. It doesn’t matter if you like this fact or not. It doesn’t matter if you dispute this fact. It doesn’t matter if you rejected this fact. It doesn’t even matter if you refuse to accept the fact that Donald Trump IS the President. Why? Because it is FACT. It happened. And you can do nothing to change this circumstance. It is a cold hard fact. We can do a “fact check” by looking at the numerous records which document and validate this particular event. That is why substantiated facts are usually considered to be reliable and therefore are often used in conjunction with research and study.

All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in fact, logic and argument than others.” ― Douglas Adams

Sometimes an opinion can have validity and therefore carry great weight. For example, when a judge or court of law renders an opinion that is based upon the principles of law in reaching a case decision. Physicians may also refer to a diagnosis as an opinion. In this instance, the medical expert offers a formal statement of judgment or advice based upon substantiable knowledge and experience. These “informed” opinions are vastly different from the everyday, run of the mill, opines usually based on a personal belief or blind indoctrination. Random opinions are seldom grounded in evidence that can be checked. In my experience, many of the avant-garde opinions that barrage us on any given day are frequently worthless. Why? Because, again, these random opinions are simply a viewpoint or judgment formed about something that rests on insufficient grounds (proofs) to produce legitimacy. In other words, you haven’t “shown me the facts”. I like what the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone may be entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own set of facts.”

Now here’s the problem: we live in an increasingly opinion energized social order where Just about everyone seems to have strong feelings on just about everything, and of course, their position is ALWAYS right. Frequently, when the highly opinionated person does not want to address a legitimate challenge to their point of view they simply hide behind the well-worn cliché, “Let’s agree to disagree.” Sometimes this can be a legitimate response, but more often than not it seems to be just a convenient cop-out.

From Corporate Boardrooms to the spineless Halls of Government – it’s all about opinions. It has gotten so out of control that our society is now run less by the facts and more by endless and often unreliable opinion polls regurgitated ad nausium by a driveling news media. God forbid we just simply do what is right. Don’t confuse us with the facts; let’s just get everyone’s opinion before we make up our minds on how we should proceed. Truth? Right and wrong? That is just too… messy.

To be fair, some writers and commentators will mix fact with personal opinion, and at times it can be difficult to tell whether an article is based on truth that can be checked (facts) or someone’s point of view (opinion). So, read and listen wisely. Do your own homework. Just because somebody claims that something is factual – doesn’t mean it is true.

The proud wish God would agree with them. They are not interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s. ― Ezra Taft Benson

One more thing. I often talk about my faith in God and how the Scriptures are among the most accurate of all the ancient texts – religious or secular. Is that just me being opinionated, is it my factually informed opinion?

Let’s see: There are now in excess of 25,000 archaeological findings that validate various scriptural texts. There are well over 20,000 manuscripts and partial transcripts that corroborate scriptural accuracy. There are also many extra-biblical writings that confirm the extraordinary life and times of the man known as Jesus. And remarkably, every prophecy recorded in the scriptures – except for those pertaining to future end time events – have been accurately fulfilled. I could continue laying out one fact after another, but that is not my purpose here today.

Some say that the claims of scripture are nothing more than fanciful opinion. But given the substantiable evidence available, I think not. The Bible records within its pages things which truly exist and events which have occurred. It contains truth that can be checked and backed up with proof. The Bible contains factual and reliable information – not just conjecture and opinion. It contains the 10 commandments – not the 10 suggestions. To categorically reject the Bible’s teachings requires a measure of intellectual dishonesty, let alone spiritual blindness. And again, that is not simply my random belief. Given the evidences, this is my factually well informed opinion.

And on that note, it is now – in fact – time for me to bid thee farewell.

You know, this is a really great essay! (Ha-ha-ha… that, by the way, is just my not so humble opinion.)

14-17 “Yet you must go on steadily in all those things that you have learned and which you know are true. Remember from what sort of people your knowledge has come, and how from early childhood your mind has been familiar with the Holy Scriptures, which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Jesus Christ. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie®, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
These bickerings of opposite parties, and their mutual reproaches their declamations, their sing-song, their triumphs and defiance, their dismal prophecies, are all delusion” – John Adams –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved. For more information write to:
INSIGHT TODAY, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656. facebook.com/inspopoint
If all the printers in all the world were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” – Benjamin Franklin –

Florida in July is…, well… it is hot.  Okay, at times it is really hot.  Thankfully, I like the heat.  Plus, Florida is nearly perfect in the fall, winter and early spring when it can seem like everyone else is trying to visit us here in “Paradise” to escape ice, snow, howling winds, freezing rain and bitter cold temperatures somewhere else.  Today, I am at one of my favorite writing spots – Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill in Tarpon Springs.  Seated outdoors at a table perched dockside on the Anclote River, I am revising and updating an article from a few years ago, so I get to review the United States Bill of Rights.

What’s that?

Yes, I am reading the United States Bill of Rights.

You think that must be a bit boring?

Not really.  I’ll admit it’s not Ian Fleming, but neither is it uninteresting.

If more Americans knew what their Constitution actually said, there is a strong possibility that we would not be living at present under the tyrannical overreach of a profoundly corrupt Federal Government, replete with an inept Executive Branch, an activist Supreme Court, and a Congress that as of late is about as useful as a sunroof on a submarine. Of course, you do have to actually know how to read and speak English to understand the constitution. But that is another subject altogether.

What’s that?

You find my opinions offensive?

Good. That was my objective – to offend you.  Now, let’s talk about freedom from offense.

I’ve never really been one to try to be politically correct. I just feel truth is truth, and sometimes I probably offend some people.” – Franklin Graham

It seems like just about everyone is offended by someone or something these days. Even when you speak innocently, it often gets taken out of context and the next thing you know, somebody is at your throat because you offended them. Well, now it’s my turn. I am offended by all of the people who think they have some kind of right to be protected from being offended.

Recently, I read a great quote from Stephen Fry, the English comedian, writer and actor. Mr. Fry said,

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more than a whine. Or they say, ‘I find that offensive.’ The statement has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so what.”

I could not agree more. You are offended? I am too, at times – so what!

The United States of America is a Republic (that’s right, we are NOT a democracy – look it up).  A republic and a democracy are identical in every aspect except one. In a republic each individual citizen is sovereign (autonomous, self-governing). In a democracy the sovereignty is shared by the collective population where the governance often shifts to a small number of social elites.  Major difference.

The Republic of the United States was framed by a document known as the Constitution.  This amazing document has a brilliant little section of amendments called The Bill of Rights.  At the very top of the list, in amendment numero uno, you will find the guaranteed right to freedom of speech. Perhaps you have never been properly instructed in regard to the meaning of free speech (which would not surprise me given the state of modern education in the USA).  Please allow me to school you in a bit of Political Science.

The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. The House of Representatives originally approved 17 amendments. The Senate considered the 17 and approved just 12 in August of 1789. Next, the 12 were sent to the States for their approval (aka ratification). Only 10 made the cut. On December 15, 1791, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution were dually ratified and adopted. These 10 Amendments became known collectively as “The Bill of Rights” and they limit the powers of the Federal Government.  I said they are meant to LIMIT the powers of the FEDERAL Government!

The first amendment is quite interesting. It says,

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

First of all, some of our Founders wanted to make it absolutely clear – the government must stay out of religion. No State or Federal government entity may establish a religion of preference in the United States of America. But, nowhere is it stated or implied that religion had no place in the government. The Founders were very clear on this subject.  Their intent was to guarantee the freedom OF religion and not the freedom FROM religion. We the people have a constitutionally protected right to express our religious beliefs publicly or in private at any time – including in the halls of government buildings and in or on any public property for that matter. We the people will ultimately determine – by our participation in and our support of – what philosophies (i.e. religion, values, morals, etc.) will prevail and dominate in the land of the free.  It should come as no surprise that this fundamental freedom was at the top of the list.

Next up in amendment one comes the freedom of speech.  We the people also have a constitutionally protected right to express our point of view (i.e. speak our mind) even if others find our speech to be offensive. You may not like what some people say, and you may not agree with what they say, but you have no right to stop them from saying it – even when it offends you.

I live in America. I have the right to publish whatever I want. And it’s equaled by another right just as powerful: the right not to read it. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to offend people.” – Brad Thor

So what about this supposed right to “Freedom from Offense”? Where is that one in the Bill of Rights? (Que the Crickets…).

Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution – including the supplementary Bill of Rights – will you find a promise of protection from anything that you might find offensive. The Constitution was written to assure freedom for everyone – not just you! Freedom of speech is not restricted when the words might offend someone. Sure, it would be nice if we all took into consideration the feelings of others before we spoke, but it is not a requirement.

This nation is filled with idiots of every possible description – including me. You may not like them and you may want to silence them. Too bad. If they infuriate you, change the channel, leave the room, express your opposition to the things that they have to say, boycott the movies they make, the businesses they operate, or the events they promote. That is your right. You do not have the right to silence them – period.  Likewise, they do not have the right to silence you.

“Oh my, but all the ‘hate speech’. We must not allow it anymore. We must have new laws to stop all the hate.  People should not be allowed to ridicule or insult other people.”

That’s liberal twaddle. Labeling everything you do not like or agree with as hate speech is just another social progressive code word for control. A method of intimidation meant to suppress your right to have and express a unique opinion – even if it turns out that your point of view is extremely stupid and offensive.  In the United States of America, be ye saint or sinner, believer or heathen, agnostic, atheist, social activist, etc., you have a constitutionally protected right to speak what you believe.

Freedom of speech means freedom for those who you despise, and freedom to express the most despicable views. It also means that the government cannot pick and choose which expressions to authorize and which to prevent.” – Alan Dershowitz

Now before you run out with new boldness to offend everyone you don’t agree with, listen carefully. If you are a practicing Christian (or even just a decent and courteous human being), it is your responsibility to be as loving and non-offensive as possible. Here is part of the philosophy by which I try to govern my own life as it is written in the New Testament book of Romans:

16 “Work happily together. Don’t try to act big. Don’t try to get into the good graces of important people, but enjoy the company of ordinary folks. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through. 18 Don’t quarrel with anyone but be at peace with everyone, just as much as is possible.” (Romans 12:16-18 – TLB)

Christians are encouraged to live in harmony and to take a genuine interest in all people. It really saddens me when I meet a follower of Jesus who lives in perpetual anger at the world and everyone in it.  Sharing the message of Christianity does not require you to pick a fight with everybody who opposes what you have to say. Chill out man.  It’s okay to hate wickedness, but it’s not okay to hate the offenders. Jesus said, blessed are the peacemakers.

But remember, Christians believe in absolute truths. Good and evil, right and wrong, Heaven and Hell. It’s God’s way or burst!  Many people are offended by this absolute view of truth simply because it is not relative. (Relativism refers to the view that beliefs cannot be absolutely true or valid but instead are relative to situations and perspectives.)  Relative interpretations change nothing. If someone says, “I believe there is no God,” that does not affect the existence of God. It only demonstrates that he or she is spiritually blind and ignorant.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, Jesus didn’t do it the world’s way. He came here and offended the whole world. He came here and did everything the wrong way.”  ― Eric Ludy

Whenever Jesus spoke with people, He was more concerned with communicating the absolute truth than with their feelings.  One time, some of His followers told Him that many of the religious leaders were highly offended by his message.  (Matthew 15:12).   Did Jesus apologies?  Nope.   He shrugged it off by saying,

13-14 “Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.”  (Matthew 15:13-14)

Jesus continued to speak His view of reality, even when it offended people.  He even offended his own followers on occasion (John 6:61-65).  Careful scrutiny of the Newer Testament Scriptures reveal that the truth acts as a two edged sword.  It will either bring freedom and life to those who hear it or become a stumbling block and a rock of offensiveness to them. (Hebrews 4:12, 1 Peter 2:8).  If you are committed to the “Christian Lifestyle” and you are not shy about speaking Biblical truth, without a doubt, people will be offended!  Jesus may be meek and lowly of heart (Matt. 11:29), but listen to what He said about His mission on spaceship earth:

34-36 “Never think I have come to bring peace upon the earth. No, I have not come to bring peace but a sword! For I have come to set a man against his own father, a daughter against her own mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be those who live in his own house. (Matthew 10:34-36).

We are to be peace makers whenever possible, but sometimes our message will be very divisive. Absolute truth makes people angry. This is why Christians are so often accused of being “narrow minded.”  Genuine Christianity is rooted and grounded in love. The Newer Testament writer Paul describes Christian love like this,

“This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.  5-6 Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men whenever truth prevails.  7-8a Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Phillips)

Everything we do or say as a Christian should be infused with this kind of love.  But make no mistake, when it is essential to take a stand, we must do so without hesitation and sometimes without regard for a person’s delicate “sensibilities”.  It is okay to speak out from a Christian worldview whenever necessary on any subject no matter how controversial or politically incorrect our position may be. In the end, we only have one entity in this entire universe to please. Down here on spaceship earth, we call him the Almighty God. His opinion of us is the only judgement that actually matters. Remember that.

Sooner or later we’ll all have to face our Creator, even those whom the Bible refers to as “fools” because they refuse to believe in His existence. At that time we will receive what we deserve as the end result of our actions here on spaceship earth, either good or bad. Those who have placed their absolute trust in the Liberator Jesus will not be remanded to the blackness of an eternal night but remain free in the light of His everlasting love. The Liberator Jesus alone is the one whom God sent to the earth to rescue the stranded human race.  End of story.  If that offends you… well… read the first amendment.  I can assure you, I am not being belligerent.  My words flow from a heart filled with concern for the lost, misguided and confused passengers traveling here on spaceship earth.  I mean you no offense.

Many years ago (in the early 1980’s), I heard a song written by Philip Sandifer. It changed my life. Here is an excerpt from the lyrics:

And when the time arrives
to leave behind our earthly lives
and go before the God
that calls our souls to be
will you answer Lord I knew you well
I walked your way
I lived a life that caused another man to see

Now you can spend your time
turning tricks for all mankind
and you can base your life on meaningless reward
but a wiser man is he who knows himself eternally

and sees his value not in life but in his Lord

For when it’s all been said
and when it’s all been done – He’ll ask me:
did you go my way child?
Did you know my son?
And when it’s all been said
and when it’s all been done – He’ll ask me
did you find your way within my son? (1)

When this life is over, our Creator and Liberator will ask but one question, “did you do it my way, did you know and follow the one I sent to your planet?”  I know how I will answer those questions. And, I won’t need to plead the 5th Amendment.  How about you?

Thank you God for your willingness to forgive us our foolishness and set aside the judgement we deserve because of your great mercy and grace.  I pray my friends will all find their way within the one you sent in human form to set our spirits free.  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, Florida 34656
  • (1) © Phillip Sandifer (www.phillipsandifer.com)
I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament.”  Benjamin Rush (at the signing of the Declaration of Independence)

Is the United States of America still “one nation under God”?  Was it ever?  It makes some people happy to think that we are, at present, a society of God-fearing men and women.  Of course, that assumption can also make some people very angry as well.   And let’s not forget the millions who could simply care less.  Clearly, the Pledge of Allegiance declares the USA to be “one nation under God”.  But detractors are quick to point out that the words “under God” were not even incorporated into the Pledge until June 14, 1954.  And what about U.S currency?  Isn’t it boldly inscribed with the words: IN GOD WE TRUST?  So, we must be a Godly nation, right?  Wrong.  Empty declarations do not a reality make – regardless of the national sentiment at the time these mottoes were first introduced.

Think about it, do you actually believe that the Almighty Creator is impressed by insincere slogans that have little to no significance for the citizens of modern Sodom?  For that matter, what about the multiplied thousands of people who vainly recite meaningless spiritual platitudes without any genuine knowledge of or faith in the God to whom they purportedly offer prayers?  The Divine entity that we call God is not some good luck charm, or extraterrestrial talisman invoked when blessings are desired.

Not wishing to be accused of intolerant, dogmatic, judgmental religious bigotry, I prefer to let the scriptures speak for themselves on a subject of this gravity. Here is what Jesus – that great religious reformer, liberator and the founder of what many call the Christian faith had to say:

3“And why do your behaviors violate the direct commandments of God? You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce, for they follow man-made ideas and not the instructions that come from God.’”
(Matthew 15:3, 7-9)

Hmm.  People who honor God with only “lip service.”   Jesus called them a farce (a sham).

The last time I checked, the sacred Biblical texts still proclaim that the Ancient of Days (God) is the originator of all things here on spaceship earth.  He is said to have planted the human species on this planet and engineered man in His own image. His blueprint made us a self-replicating and adaptive species with limited free moral agency. Man is the creature (that which was made). God is the creator (the one who designed us).  Foolish mortals are forever trying to remake the Creator into the image of the creature, or they simply disregard His existence altogether.

So, I ask the question again, is the USA “one nation under God?”  Millions would like to believe that it is, and they site the many religious men and women living among the population.    But when you consider how far askew modern America has shifted from the sure foundation of a dependence upon Divine providence, I’m afraid the answer to that question is NO.

“We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”  – Samuel Adams, 1776 (at the signing of the Declaration of Independence)

Some will insist that the USA was unequivocally established as a Christian nation.  Sorry, that statement is simply not true.  Even though many of the founding fathers of the United States were men of deep religious convictions, some were not. To say that the founders were of unanimous resolve on establishing a strictly “Christian” nation would be a distortion of the known facts.  A few of them even sharply criticized structured Christianity as a repulsive distortion of the intentions of Jesus himself.  In a letter dated April 11, 1823 Thomas Jefferson wrote the following to John Adams:

“The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy, absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.”1 

Jefferson was not a fan of organized religion. He even branded a belief in the virgin birth of Jesus and the doctrine of the trinity as “fables” in his writings.  However, he wrote with great admiration about the teachings of Jesus Himself. In a letter to Benjamin Rush dated April 1, 1803 he remarked:

“To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.”2

Whatever personal interpretation of the Scriptures Thomas Jefferson held dear, we know that he at least acknowledged the existence of our Creator. Jefferson wrote these now immortal words in The Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

There is no disputing that the Bible played an important and significant role in the shaping of the American dream. Our Founders possessed strong moral and spiritual convictions which helped them to form the fundamentals of this nation. With the inspiration of the scriptures and Divine foresight; they forged a constitutional framework by which we were to be governed.

For my own part, I sincerely esteem it [the Constitution] a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.”  – Alexander Hamilton (1787 after the Constitutional Convention)

In spite of their differences, our nation’s designers seemed to understand that without the blessing of Almighty God, this republic would not survive. Some of them even believed that the very laws upon which our society functions could only be understood and obeyed by a “moral and religious” people. On October 11th, 1798, John Adams wrote:

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 3

While it may be true that this great nation was not established on an exacting structure of religious doctrine or dogma, it was formed by men who were deeply and profoundly influenced by religious belief – particularly the Christian faith.

If you doubt this statement, consider the denominational affiliations of the 55 core delegates to the Constitutional Convention,

28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists (Benjamin Franklin being one of them) 4

We may never know with absolute certainty just how sincere any particular individual founder was in the practice of their faith. But that really doesn’t matter. Even if we were to conclude that the majority of them were only minimal Christians at best, their lifetime exposure to the fundamental religious and moral teachings of the Bible had a profound influence on them as they framed the documents that would ultimately structure the laws of the land.  The United States of America was born in godliness and reverence for the Divine Creator.  But times have changed dramatically and this once free and righteous nation has gradually become home to a wicked and perverse generation.

Today the fading echoes of America’s Christian heritage are engraved in the stones of her national monuments and written on the pages of her carefully preserved historical documents.  They serve to remind us of just how far we have strayed – a testimony well maintained as a witness against us.

The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them[society and government] if faith in these [biblical] teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”President Calvin Coolidge, 1923

The Liberator Jesus faced a similar national crisis when he visited the earth. The details are recorded in the New Testament book of Luke,

41-44And as he came still nearer to the city, he caught sight of it and wept over it, saying, “Ah, if you only knew, even at this eleventh hour, on what your peace depends—but you cannot see it. The time is coming when your enemies will encircle you with ramparts, surrounding you and hemming you in on every side. And they will hurl you and all your children to the ground—yes, they will not leave you one stone standing upon another—all because you did not know when God Himself was visiting you!”  (Luke 19:41-44 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

How profoundly sad. The Creator visits His own creation, and the spiritually blinded people reject Him and His message.  But, He expected that.  The good news is, whenever someone did accept His message, Jesus invited them to follow Him.  “I am the Way”, He told them, “the road back to the God who made you”.  He is still doing that today – but for how much longer?

I am certainly proud to be an American. But at times I am not proud of America. I am prouder still to be called a follower of the Liberator Jesus.  Like him, I weep for the lost and foolish people wandering the decks of spaceship earth in darkness at this eleventh hour, unable or unwilling to grasp what we all really need.

Recorded in the 2nd chapter of the New Testament book of acts is a powerful and persuasive speech given by Peter, one of the first followers of Jesus.  In a way, he too was a founder – a pioneer of this sect of Judaism that would go on to become Christianity. His audience at the time was a cross-section of the Nation of Israel. Here is what he told them:

36 “Now therefore the whole nation of Israel must know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this Jesus, whom you crucified, God has declared to be both Lord and Christ.” 37 When they heard this they were cut to the quick, and they cried to Peter and the other apostles, “Men and fellow-Jews, what shall we do now?” 38-39 Peter told them, “You must repent and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this great promise is for you and your children—yes, and for all who are far away, for as many as the Lord our God shall call to himself!40 Peter said much more than this as he gave his testimony and implored them, saying, “Save yourselves from this perverted generation!  (Acts 2:36-40 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Perhaps it is time for you to dig in and learn about the true mission of Jesus and the message he brought to the earth. This will require of you both an open mind and teachable spirit.  Genuine faith comes when we have heard the truth.  Are you willing to listening?  After all, they say that only fools reject that of which he/she has no real knowledge or understanding.   Why not start by looking at the message Jesus and ask God to make it real in your life by the power of His Spirit?  Our Creator is still gathering rogues like us to follow His “road” to a new and better home world.  Hope to see you on the other side.

Almighty God, we really need you. Forgive us for the fools we have been. Accept us just as we are. Set us free and begin the remolding process that will transform us into the men and women you truly want us to be. In the name of the Liberator Jesus we pray. 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, Florida 34656

1 412-3. Recipient’s copy at the Library of Congress. The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827

2 Lipscomb, Andrew A. and Albert E. Bergh, eds. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, 1903-04. 20 vols.

3 The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States; With A Life of the Author Notes and Illustrations of his Grandson Charles Francis Adams. Vol. IX, Books For Libraries Press, Freeport, New York, (First Published 1850-1856, Reprinted 1969), 228-29.

4 John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), p. 43.

Throughout your lifetime, people will make you mad,  They will disrespect you and treat you badly. Let God deal with the things people do, because in the end, hate in your heart will consume you.” ― Will Smith

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

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

Mere make-believe?  Perhaps, but only a fool would deny the profound dark side that grips our world today.  The insidious spread of the malevolent which regularly disrupts the peaceful fabric of the social order has now become rooted and grounded in HATRED.  Maybe Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was right.  In his 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” he wrote:

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

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

Hate is widespread in our modern culture. Racial, ethnic, homophobic, religious and social class hatred is everywhere. Many people even hate politicians…well, let’s skip that one. You name it and someone, somewhere probably HATES it with a passion.

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

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

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

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

If you are a regular reader, you already know that I’m a disciple of the ancient Nazarene known as Jesus. I believe in His message and His mission.  My faith is much more than a “religion” – it is my way of life.

Some people have a real problem with that – even to the point of hatred. How bizarre. They don’t even know me.  In most cases, we’ve never spoken nor met. But they have already formed an opinion based upon their biased ideas about Christianity (or religion in general).

My worldview is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic which influences and shapes my character.  When I encounter anything that clearly opposes the teachings of scripture – I choose to reject it.  It’s not open for debate. I do not believe in an erasable or amendable Bible. You will never convince me that some of the teachings of Jesus, for instance, need to be modified or repealed.  Contrary to the opinions of pop culture, the ancient scriptures do not need to be “updated”, they need to be revisited.

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

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

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

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

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

Historically, organized “Christianity” (the Church) has always been a bit of a mess.  That’s what happens when inadequate humans attempt to communicate a message they believe has been entrusted to them by a perfect redeemer and a faultless creator.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But remember, His perfect love together with his flawless justice will one day compel Him to banish the impenitent portion of mankind into an everlasting darkness – not because of what we have done (sin) but because we would not accept what He has done through this man called Jesus.  “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”

Wherever you are on this crazy planet, He’s there with you right now to throw you a rescue line. Don’t ask me to explain how or why. Who cares? He is with you now. All you have to do is trust Him. Go ahead, speak to Him. He can take it from here. He doesn’t need my help to change your life for the better. He never did.  I’m just a diplomat.

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

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

Hatred is evil and like all wickedness, it will eventually fail. Love will triumph over hate.  Remember, God is love.

Almighty Creator, I ask that you would help those who have read my words to reach out to you. May their eyes be opened so they too can see Jesus who came to our earth, taking human form to show us the way home again. Forgive them as they acknowledge they are no more than an outlaw who desperately needs your favor and forgiveness. As they open their heart to you, let them find the peace and joy that comes to those who are born again in spirit and set free from all hate. I ask this in Jesus 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

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The Devil pulls the strings which make us dance; we find delight in the most loathsome things; some furtherance of Hell each new day brings, and yet we feel no horror in that rank advance.” ― Charles Baudelaire

It’s been dubbed the ‘ostrich problem’ by a British research team – disregarding reality in order to sidestep unpleasant situations.  The expression ‘ostrich problem’, is apparently a reference to the urban myth that an ostrich, when surrounded by danger, will bury its head in the sand.  The notion is that the supposedly dumb bird believes that if it doesn’t see the problem then the problem will go away.  According to this study, people often ignore what is going on around them to avoid the “negative feelings” associated with confronting the truth – in other words, they either ignore or reject the facts.  Evidently, denial can also be therapeutic.  I guess for some folks, ignorance really is bliss.

Meanwhile, here in modern Sodom and Gomorrah, the decline and fall of decency and rudimentary moral behaviors continues unabated.  Everyday a new “evil” is declared to be “good”.  What was once shunned by polite society is now not only embraced and promoted, it is also being forced upon those who continue to recognize it as sinful or inappropriate.

The 8th-century BC prophet Isaiah ben Amoz, penned a warning aimed at his own malevolent culture:

18 Woe to those who drag their sins behind them like a bullock on a rope. 19 They even mock the Holy One (God) and dare the Lord to punish them. “Hurry up and punish us, O Lord,” they say. “We want to see what you can do!” 20 They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter21 Woe to those who are wise and shrewd in their own eyes!”  (Isaiah 5:18-21 – TLB)

This ancient text got me wondering; is there a word that can help us to grasp the mechanism that drives a cultural breakdown?  Sin comes to my mind.  But for so many post-moderns, sin is “so yesterday”.  Okay, let me offer you a new “old” word.  Maybe we can hash tag it.  Make it “so today.”  Here it is: Decadence.

By living a life “against nature,” the deviant or pervert becomes a hero or heroine in decadent fiction.” ― Asti Hustvedt

Are you at all familiar with the term decadence?  The word literally means to descend from a higher order to a lower level in quality, character, or vitality.  A decadent person is sometimes also referred to as a degenerate – one who is in spiritual, intellectual, or especially moral decline.  Social decadence is a process; a slow and sometimes barely perceived deterioration in the moral fiber of a culture. Like hidden decay, the rot can often go unnoticed for a very long time; eventually reaching a point where the damage produced is well beyond mending.

Here in the United States of Sodom, concepts like honesty, decency, honor and ethics have already lost much of their significance in these post-modern times. It appears that our culture operates in such a state of delusion that people believe society is actually moving forward in a progressive triumph when in truth it is crumbling at its very foundations.  Have you heard this Proverb?

“When the righteous (honest and upright) are in (positions of) authority and become great, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.  (Proverbs 29:2 – AMP)

Groan… sigh… groan…

I’m fairly certain you are familiar with the idiom “it’s my lot in life.” That is actually a Biblical reference.  In the Older Testament book of Genesis, Lot parts ways with Abraham to seek his own future and he “pitched his tents toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). Unfortunately for him, he also parts ways with what God had planned.  This places Lot on the wrong life path.  Consequently, his days are filled with much trouble and sorrow. And that my friends is the origin of the idiom, “it’s my lot in life.”

Sometimes, I cannot help but notice the growing number of people who wish to focus the blame for their lot in life on someone or something other than themselves.  Whatever happened to individual responsibility; the understanding that we are each accountable for our own actions and outcomes?   There was a time when attainment came from hard work and perseverance. People once took delight in getting an honest education, acquiring useful skills and learning self-sufficiency. Today these qualities are being replaced by a dependence on various forms of public assistance as the proletariat population continues to become ever more reliant on various forms of “tax payer” handouts to earn a living.

Promises of freedom through economic equality (socialism), and a quasi-fascist approach to governance (quite often championed by our modern liberal reformists) are regularly advanced through a highly sophisticated deception perpetrated upon an under-informed population.  As a result, moral and religious beliefs are routinely attacked, and the once cherished traditions of faith, virtuous family values and a genuine sense of community are quietly being eradicated.  Modern progressives call this “fundamentally transforming society”.  I call it the new Babylon.

Some would argue that we are simply discovering alternative ways to look at community. In this current Cultural Revolution, our society is progressing for the furtherance of the collective through diversity.  But others see a new way of life emerging where the people are being methodically stripped of any remaining self-determination. Weighed down by our post-modern confused logic and inconsistent (or non-existent) morality, we are losing sight of the higher purpose in and for our human existence.

The mother tongue of politicians is that of ancient Babylon: a language designed to severely limit discourse within a tower of praise to elitism, a language carried on breath’s reeking of the fecal matter from their paymasters” ― Dean Cavanagh

The United States of America was once firmly rooted in a Judeo-Christian certainty. Our traditional way of life (born of a faith in the providence of a Divine Creator) was central to our well-being as individuals and as a nation. It was a shared moral code which allowed our founding fathers to find common ground and mutual cooperation. The “great experiment” called the USA cannot survive the death of the very system of belief that brought it into being. When we lose touch with the Divine order of our Creator, the culture will most certainly decay precipitously.

Nearly 2000 years ago, a man named Saul of Tarsus (who later become known as Paul, an Apostle of the Liberator Jesus) waxed eloquent as he predictively saw the future,

18-23 But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to reverence him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figures you can buy at any roadside stand.

24-25 So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us.”  (Romans 1:21-25 – MSG)

The morality and justice of God set against the wickedness of mankind is nothing new. The Creator will eventually put a stop to all of this abject stupidity. He alone can and will impartially judge mankind. Our days are numbered here on spaceship earth.  In the meantime, we who know the one true Spirit will indeed cling to our cherished traditions of faith, virtuous family values and a genuine sense of community as best as we can.

The Newer Testament writer Paul also once wrote a word of instruction to his friend and fellow believer, Pastor Timothy,

2“Everything that you have heard me preach in public you should in turn entrust to reliable men (and women), who will be able to pass it on to others.”  (2 Timothy 2:2 – PHILLIPS)

That is an assignment we can all embrace!  Fighting “Caesar” is not the answer.  Obsessive preoccupation with the tomfoolery of partisan politics will only stress you out.  Right and truth are neither Republican nor Democrat.  Governments may turn oppressive, but it’s always the TRUTH that sets you free.  That is why I follow the Liberator Jesus, He said, “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life” (John 14:6).

Let me share these additional thoughts from the pen of the Newer Testament writer Paul as originally written to the Christians living in the ancient city of Philippi,

8-9 “Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of Almighty God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will always be with you.”  (Philippians 4:9 – PHILLIPS)

There are many righteous, pure and beautiful things still crying out for our attention here on space ship earth.  Never ignore the dangers of this present darkness and “bury your head in the sand.”  But likewise, never let the sands of adversity entomb your faith and destroy your effectiveness.  The Newer Testament writer Matthew quoted the Liberator Jesus as saying,

5-8 “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the (spiritually) dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”  (Matthew 10:7-10 – MSG)

Look out mates, there may be many squalls ahead.  But come hell or high water, we can be ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within us.  Never give up on hope, it is the anchor of your soul.

Let’s pray.

Father of all life, we your people on spaceship earth, called by your name, are humbling ourselves today, calling out to you, seeking your presence, and turning away from the wickedness that has become so pervasive in our nations.  We respectfully call your attention to the promise recorded in the older covenant book of 2 Chronicles, 14 “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”  We put you in remembrance of your word today.  And we ask you to watch over us, protect us and if it is not already too late, to heal our land.  Thank you Sovereign Creator.  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
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…” ~ William Shakespeare ~

If the world is nothing more than a magnificent theatrical performance, then we the inhabitants of spaceship earth are merely the actors on its stage. How intriguing. That means we’re all hypocrites – at least in the classic sense of that word.

Did you know that the English term hypocrisy comes from the ancient Greek word ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which means play-acting? And the word hypocrite, from the Greek word ὑποκρίτης (hypokritēs), was a technical term for a stage actor.

Yes ladies and gentlemen – I am a hypocrite. And before you get all sanctimonious on me – so are you. We are all hypocrites who regularly engage in some form of hypocrisy. (Que the crickets)

The definition and usage of the words hypocrite and hypocrisy has evolved over time. Today’s hypocrite can be defined as a person who simply does not practice what they preach. Have you ever criticized someone or attempted to give them some of your sage “advise” only to have them respond People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, or the equally popular, Listen to the pot calling the kettle black? Their response was a polite way of calling you a hypocrite! It’s happened to me a time or two. So, I now respond with the favored apology of hypocrites, Do as I say, not as I do!

Still not convinced of your hypocrisy? Let’s visit child-rearing for a moment. When I was boy, my friend Billy and I would sneak a smoke under the stairwell at the old So & So church in the North End of my home town. One day we got caught. Billy’s mom gave us a good scolding. She said that we were NEVER to smoke again. Evan as an adolescent, I remember thinking, “Yea right”. Was I just being a punk? No comment. But, you see, Billy’s mom smoked like a chimney. A parent who smokes, drinks excessively or curses like the proverbial drill sergeant and then expects their children to act differently is… well… a wee bit hypocritical. How can we expect our children and grandchildren to take us seriously when our actions cancel out our words? I know, Do as I say, not as I do!

I consider myself a fairly ethical individual while I do have a lot of dichotomies within me. We’re all victims of our own hypocrisy at times.” ~ T. J. Miller

Okay, enough about you and me. Let’s turn our attention to politics. I believe in values – moral and spiritual. So when a candidate runs for office on a platform of “family values” while secretly carrying on an extramarital affair, is it any wonder that people question their integrity? Perhaps more and more of the electorate are growing tired of the scandals and deceits perpetrated by politicians full of deliberate hypocrisy and double standards: one for themselves, and one for the little folk.

Today our national faith in the political system continues to hover at all-time lows. Sure, it’s impossible for any human being to be up-front at all times. But when your actions consistently contradict what you say, that is hypocritical, and it undermines credibility. Is it any wonder why so few trust what the “politicians” say? I think Ronald Reagan was right, the most terrifying words in the English language today are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

What about religious hypocrisy? We’ve all seen the stereotypical flamboyant TV preachers with bad hairstyles hawking baby wipes dipped in the Jordan River for just a small donation to “their ministry”. The money scandals, the moral failures; some would argue that many of them have done little to further the true cause of Jesus Christ. Listen, religion – like the rest of life – is full of hypocrisy. It is unfortunate that so many hypocrites can be found in both pew and pulpit. But does that justify anyone turning away from the Creator of all things and the Liberator he sent to the earth? If we have a bad meal in a restaurant, do we blame the food and stop eating? A nasty experience in a church should never be used as an excuse to turn your back on God.

Many have quarreled about religion but they have never actually practiced it.” ~ Ben Franklin (1706-1790)

In Christendom, hypocrisy is usually manifest in one of two ways: asserting a belief in the precepts of the Almighty and then acting in a way that is contrary to that declaration, or condescending toward others in spite of our own weaknesses.

In the Older Testament, the prophet Isaiah blasted hypocrisy with this declaration:

13 And so the Lord says, “Since these people say they are mine but they do not obey me, and since their worship amounts to mere words learned by rote, 14 therefore I will take awesome vengeance on these hypocrites and make their wisest counselors as fools.” (Isaiah 29:13-14 TLB)

The Liberator Jesus actually quoted from the writings of Isaiah when heaping his disdain upon the “religious leadership” of his day. He said,

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, ‘These people say they honor me, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is worthless, for they teach their man-made laws instead of those from God’.” (Matthew 15:7-9 TLB)

Jesus also took exception to the holier-than-thou attitude which the religious elite displayed:

27-28 “You hypocritical scribes and Pharisees! You are like white-washed tombs, which look fine on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of rottenness. For you appear like good men on the outside—but inside you are a mass of pretense and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 PHILLIPS)

It is obvious that Jesus had a low tolerance for religious hypocrisy among those who claimed to be the “leaders” of religion in that day. But, he also addressed judgmental hypocrites in the Sermon on the Mount:

 And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own? Should you say, ‘Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye,’ when you can’t even see because of the board in your own? You hypocrite! First get rid of the board. Then you can see to help your brother.” (Matthew 7:3-5 TLB)

Do not misunderstand the intent of Jesus. He is not discounting perceptiveness in the identification of right and wrong; instead, He is warning us not to think so highly of our own goodness that we condescend toward others in self-righteousness. In other words, correct your own shortcomings before you go after the flaws in someone else.

Nothing so needs reforming like other people’s habits.” ~Mark Twain

Now, take a deep breath and read this from the Newer Testament book of Romans,

1-4 “If you feel inclined to set yourself up as a judge of those who sin, let me assure you, whoever you are, that you are in no position to do so. For at whatever point you condemn others you automatically condemn yourself, since you, the judge, commit the same sins. God’s judgment, we know, is utterly impartial in its action against such evil-doers. What makes you think that you who so readily judge the sins of others, can consider yourself beyond the judgment of God? Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God’s generosity and patient mercy towards you as weakness on his part? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4)

Ouch. To put it succinctly, who among us is truly qualified to pass judgment on anyone?  It should be noted that hypocrisy is not the same thing as taking a stand against wickedness. For example, it is not hypocrisy to proclaim that adultery, murder or drunkenness is wrong, unless you are a murderess drunk that sleeps around —that would be hypocrisy.

Don’t judge others simply because they sin differently than you.” ~Author Unknown

It is no secret that I am an ordained Christian minister. But like everyone else here on spaceship earth, I still mess up. Some days my life is like a rodeo – a wild ride which ends with me landing flat on my…, you know. Thankfully, I am not asking anyone to follow me. I don’t need your vote and I’m not selling anything. My only motive here is to share with you what I have learned about absolute TRUTH from the pages of the ancient scriptures. And even when I am struggling to be a living example of these realities in my own life, it doesn’t change the truth of what the scriptures teach. The Spirit of the Creator is still speaking. Listen for His voice and pay no attention to the hypocrisy or the hypocrites.

These are my closing thoughts which come from the pen of the Newer Testament writer John,

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

19-21 “Yes, we love him because he first loved us. If a man says, “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar (hypocrite). For if he does not love the brother who is before his eyes how can he love the one beyond his sight (God)? And in any case it is his explicit command that the one who loves God must love his brother too.” (1 John 4:16-21 Phillips)

And now, this is my prayer,

1”Bend down and hear my cry, O Lord, and answer me, for I am deep in trouble. Protect me from death, for I try to follow all your laws. Save me, for I am serving you and trusting you. Be merciful, O Lord, for I am looking up to you in constant hope. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I worship only you. O Lord, you are so good and kind, so ready to forgive, so full of mercy for all who ask your aid. Listen closely to my prayer, O God. Hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever trouble strikes and you will help me.(Psalm 86:1-6)

Remember, your religion is what you do when the sermon is over.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
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