Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

There is a movement bubbling up today that goes beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living, there is coming a generation that stops complaining about the church that it sees and becomes the church that it dreams of.” – Shane Claiborne

Religion’s not your thing?  You say that attending a Church service is passé, or irrelevant?  Tell me your story.

“I tried that church thing. Bunch of hypocrites mixed in with losers and assorted other misfits who can’t (or won’t) have any real fun. Who needs the drama? Bible thumpers really annoy me anyway. Hanging with the “sinners” is way more fun. I’m basically a happy person. I guess I believe in a higher power; you know, the man upstairs. Just not sure what or who that is. I’ll live my life the way I like and do good things whenever I can. But religion, what’s the point…?  I really don’t get why people even go to church.”

Okay, I catch your drift, and I really do understand how you feel.  But, to my way of thinking, you are just one of a multitude of “happy agnostics” for whom God is… well… whatever God is.

However, you’ve asked a fair question, “Why do people go to church?”  What compels the Sunday-go-to-meeting folks to return week after week to the place where the so-called faithful gather?  Is it just:

  • Tradition?
  • Guilt?
  • Duty?
  • Fear?
  • Emptiness?
  • All of the above?

Yes, for many those are some of the main reasons.  Week after week people all over the world respectfully go through the motions prescribed by their religion more out of blind tradition than genuine devotion.  That’s the problem with vision-less religion in general.

How do you define religion?  Is it just a set of philosophies which help you to understand the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe? Is it something that you follow with blind ritualistic devotion?  Is it an acceptable moral code for governing the conduct of human affairs? And if so, does that make “church” an assembly of persons who share a common adherence to a particular set of doctrines and practices which help to manage their lives on earth?  Or is religion the hunt for the truth?

What’s that?

“Listen man, religion is all about the higher power dude. Something is out there see and I believe in it, you know. I’m good with that. And life is, you know, being alive.  Religion to me means living like a good person should. And “truth”, that’s whatever works for you at the moment… My truth can be totally different from your truth, and yet they are both still the truth, right?  Anyway, who cares about all this stuff?”

Well for one, I care.  And, no, I do not believe that everyone can have their own private interpretation of “Truth.” Some things are absolute.  To me, knowing the absolute truth is very important.  I suspect that I am not alone in this conviction.  No sane person would deliberately believe in a lie.  Would you?

For some, truth is living in harmony with perceived fact or moral conviction.  But, is that just the product of a cultural consensus?  Is truth subjective or objective; relative or absolute?  Tell me, what is truth?

“You will NEVER know the truth until “The Truth” becomes your life and your life becomes His. Truth requires absolute, total surrender to the Son of God. It is an exchange of life in the most intimate way in the universe. It is a marriage of souls. It is a bond that sets free. It is a paradox. And when you enter this paradox, you will be free indeed AND you will then also know True LOVE.” – Gary Amirault

Have you ever heard of Pontius Pilate? He was in charge of the Roman province of Judaea from 26 -36 AD.  Pilate is perhaps best remembered for his role in the trial and crucifixion of a man called Jesus.  Here is the Biblical account:

33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him. 34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”   37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” 38“What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. (John 18:30-38)

At first, Pilate finds no reason why Jesus should be sentenced to death. He even tried to persuade the crowd to let him go. However, being a quintessential politician, he soon caves to the madness of an unruly special interest group (the angry mob). But, not before attempting to avoid personal responsibility for sentencing Jesus to death by ceremonially washing his hands of the whole matter.

Let’s not miss the significant statements Jesus made regarding the truth when he was being interrogated by Pilate. He said, “I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth” and “All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

Pilate’s well-known response to Jesus still reverberates in the hearts of mankind to this day. He said, “What is Truth?” When it comes to that question, you may be more like Pontius Pilate than you care to admit.

As a Christian, I accept something as truth only if it is consistent with my understanding of the thoughts and ways of the Supernatural being whom I believe to be the designer of all things. The scriptures teach us that His thoughts and ways are on a much higher level than ours.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.   (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)

Oh the foolishness of mere mortals to think they will ever be fully aware of what the architect of all things knows. God alone delineates truth because He is the truth. The Creator is the basis of all we perceive as reality.

In order for one to discover Divine Truth, one must be willing and able to go beyond the religious dogma that divides, rather than unites, humanity.” ― Jason E. Marshall

When Jesus spoke to the one whom he referred to as our “heavenly father” (God), He asked that His disciples would be made a distinct and separate class of people on the earth.  How?  He asked the Divine Spirit to open our minds to THE truth.  This is what he said to his followers shortly before leaving the earth:

13-19”… I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing so my people can experience my joy completed in them.  I gave them your word; the godless world hates them because of it.  …They didn’t join the world’s ways, just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.  I’m not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. Make them holy – consecrated – with the truth; your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I’m consecrating myself for their sake so they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission. (John 17:16-19 MSG)

Truth as it is revealed to us by the Creator of all things is what sets us apart from the spiritually blind inhabitants of earth.  When you are in tune with the one true God of the universe, you are, in fact, the genuine “illuminate” – the enlightened ones.

Jesus also said,

“You will know the truth and the truth will free you”. (John 8:32)

What’s that?

“What do you mean set me free?  I’m already free. I am the master of my own fate and the captain of my soul. I don’t need that God crutch. That’s a bunch of religious BS. I don’t believe it.”

That’s fine.  Suit yourself.  But would you at least hear me out?

According to the Liberator Jesus, Truth is what unshackles mankind from:

  • The bondage of empty religious traditions
  • The prison of endless guilt & fear
  • The pain of loneliness and rejection
  • And the robotic cycle of spiritual obligations void of joy and significance

When this man called Jesus of Nazareth visited planet earth, He claimed to be on a mission to teach us the actual meaning and purpose of life itself. The crux of His message was very clear and simple:

  • You are lost – I AM the way.
  • You are deceived – I AM the truth.
  • You are the walking dead – I AM the genuine life you need.

Isn’t that what we all want – a way to the truth and genuine life – not mere physical existence?  This Jesus made a very bold declaration:

23-24 “The difference between us,” Jesus said to them, “is that you come from below and I am from above. You belong to this world but I do not. That is why I said you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am who I am, you will die in your sins.”

25-26 Then they said, “Who are you?” “I am what I have told you I was from the beginning,” replied Jesus. “There is much in you that I could speak about and condemn. But he who sent me is true and I am only speaking to this world what I myself have heard from him.”  (John 8:23-26 – PHILLIPS)

Wow.  Jesus claimed to have come from another world.  He spoke of our need to listen to what he was sent to the earth to tell us.  Jesus promised to reveal a definite purpose for our natural terrestrial life and then to guide us into a time without end (eternity) when this temporary physical existence is over.  That’s not religion, philosophy, or dogma – that is the truth.

Many churches of all persuasions are hiring research agencies to poll neighborhoods, asking what kind of church they prefer. Then the local churches design themselves to fit the desires of the people. True faith in God is being replaced by trendy religion that serves the selfishness of man.”Billy Graham

So then, why do people go to church?   Thought I forgot, didn’t you. Yes, we’re back to our original question once again.  Why do I assemble with other people who believe like I do on a regular basis?  Certainly, for me, it’s not out of duty or obligation. It’s not “go to church or die.”  Been there, done that.  If you must have “reasons”, church is a place:

  • To celebrate life beyond mere existence
  • To encourage and to be encouraged
  • To see reality unfold more clearly
  • To grow in genuine wisdom and knowledge and understanding
  • To learn how to serve the purpose of our Creator by becoming an instrument for His use in this lost and rapidly decaying world order

Perhaps the most compelling reason for why I still choose to assemble with a group of like-minded people can be found in this passage from the very Book of Truth that forms and feeds my faith in God:

25 Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord’s return to earth is coming nearer. (Hebrews 10:25)

He’s on the way back to the earth.  Soon we shall behold Him – face to face. Until then, I’ll spend my time in comradery with those of like faith and remain occupied in the work that I’ve been called to do.  Hopefully, I am investing my “gifts” wisely. That way, when my day of reckoning arrives, I’ll have something of eternal value to show for my life.  What about you?  Hmmmmm?

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2018 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie®, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy.  But being a genuine Christian, now that’s a tough call.  Actually, that’s called rebellion.” ― Alice Cooper ―

I am a bit of a rebel.  Some say it’s in my genes. Actually, I can be rebellious in dress trousers too (groan…).  Nonconformity just comes natural to me. Mama says that I just never was a very good jack-in-the-box.

Perhaps I should define my use of the term rebel, lest you think that I am some sort of nefarious reprobate.  By simple definition a Rebel is someone who resists or defies authority or convention. Since I tend to obey the laws of the land, you will rarely, if ever, find me in open defiance of duly constituted authority.  I often disagree with the policies and practices of government, but I’m not a law breaker.  I am, however, an iconoclast – a freethinker who often questions the status quo (convention). That would make me an intellectual and spiritual rebel.

I’m in good company. Take Martin Luther as an example. This rebellious reformer from the 1500’s got in the face of some pretty powerful people. He took on the religious establishment of his time. And, they didn’t like it; called him a dissident. But in reality, he was a rebel with a noble cause.

History is replete with its illustrious and infamous rogues and rebels. Names like: Alexander the Great, Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Herod, Nero, Cleopatra, William the Conqueror, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and of course the Biblical rebels like Abraham, Moses, Peter, James, John and Saul (Paul) of Tarsus.  Perhaps you’ve heard of a few?

Saint and sinner alike can be found on the list. Visionaries, revolutionaries, and creative thinkers mixed with tyrants, maniacs, scoundrels and scallywags. They all have one thing in common, somewhere along the way they defied convention, broke the rules, or took a leap of faith, and in the end made a difference that rocked their world – some for the better, and some for the worse.  That’s what rogues and rebels do.

I’ve always been independent-minded, a bit of an eccentric and a nonconformist for sure. Friends and family gave me the nickname “Maverick” decades ago.   You see, I ask lots of questions and at times discard the default patterns of modern society in favor of my deeply held values.   I even question God on occasion.  Not in an arrogant, disrespectful or unbelieving way.  That would be pointless.  I think one of the Older Testament writers put it best when he wrote,

Does a clay pot dare argue with its maker, a pot that is like all the others?  Does the clay ask the potter what he is doing?  Does the pot complain that its maker has no skill?”  (Isaiah 45:9 GNT)

Get it?  The creature doesn’t tell the Creator He got it wrong.  So, I simply accept the Master Potter’s invitations to be inquisitive. Here is one case in point found in the ancient scriptures,

2-3 “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3 MSG)

That’s what I do. I query the Almighty Creator (God), calling on Him to reveal His knowledge to me so that I may understand the meaning and purpose of my life.  It’s a tall order, but He is all-knowing, and each day brings new insight.

A creature revolting against a creator is really revolting against the source of his own powers–including even his power to revolt. It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower.” ― C.S. Lewis

When the Liberator Jesus visited this planet, He was quite a rebel Himself. His words were considered subversive as he wandered about challenging the religious authorities and their practices. It’s not a great stretch to say that He bucked the status quo. Here’s just one example,

12-17 “Jesus, accompanied by his mother, his brothers and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there a few days. The Jewish Passover was approaching and Jesus made the journey up to Jerusalem. In the Temple he discovered cattle and sheep dealers and pigeon-sellers, as well as money-changers sitting at their tables. So he made a rough whip out of rope and drove the whole lot of them, sheep and cattle as well, out of the Temple. He sent the coins of the money-changers flying and turned their tables upside down. Then he said to the pigeon-dealers, “Take those things out of here. Don’t you dare turn my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:15-17 Phillips)

Wow, beating up on people with a rope and throwing their stuff all over the place. Really?  Jesus was a Holy Rebel indeed.  Imagine if he were here today and behaved as the writer John describes.  The powers that be would undoubtedly accuse Him of having an impulse control issue. Most likely Intermittent Explosive Disorder which psychologists define as episodes of aggressive outbursts resulting in either destruction of property or physical assaults on others. Ship him right off to therapy, they would.  Rightfully so, under our laws, you just don’t do things like that.   Those were different times for sure and He was unique among mankind.

Listen to what happened when the religious establishment in ancient Jerusalem wanted to know who gave him the right to act the way he did:

 1-2 “One day he was teaching the people in the Temple, proclaiming the Message. The high priests, religion scholars, and leaders confronted him and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”

3-4 Jesus answered, “First, let me ask you a question: About the baptism of John—who authorized it, heaven or humans?”

5-7 They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know.

Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.”  (Luke 20:1-8 MSG)

Is it any wonder that they hated him? Jesus was so real, genuine, and germane to everyday life. That’s why the common people loved Him. He was brutally honest and yet tender, loving and filled with compassion. This radical revolutionary from our home world was on a mission from God. He often broke the rules of organized religion and yet he represented true justice mixed with grace. In His life on earth, Jesus lived as a radical and they put him to death as a rebel.

Today, Jesus would be considered a rebel, if not a terrorist, and definitely a threat to the establishment and the status quo ~ as he most certainly was 2000 years ago.” ― Allen L Roland, PhD

Religious jealousy and hatred toward the message the Liberator Jesus brought to mankind eventually turned to false accusation and indefensible murder.  Jesus was irrationally sentenced to death.  As he hung on the executioners cross, mankind’s brokenness reached deep within His Divine spirit. Creation was now inside the dying bosom of her creator. Gasping out his final human breaths the Liberator cries,

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)

In the closing moments of his mortal incarnate life, the Rebel Jesus identified with the forsaken human race.  Here was the Elohim – the Creator and Judge of the universe – experiencing the wrath of Divine justice toward this lost and doomed world. For a few horrific moments, He experienced the revulsion of a total disconnect from the source of pure life so that we would no longer have to live in a perpetual state of spiritual separation from our Maker.

And then, placing His spirit into the hands of an otherworldly Father, the physical Jesus died. In that solemn, sacred, blessed moment, the darkest hour of human existence was corrected as He cried, “It is finished.”  (John 19:30) The Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai, an accounting term that means “paid in full.” When Jesus uttered those words, “It is finished”, He was declaring the debt owed by mankind was expunged completely and forever.

Ladies and Gentleman; let me introduce you to the Order of the Holy Rebels (aka: genuine Christianity).  We are the followers of that marvelous incarnate Liberator who once came to the earth from a place known to us only as Heaven.  They called Him the Rebel Jesus.  To many He was nothing but a rogue, to be despised and rejected.  Only a few would welcome and receive His message.   That’s sad, because according to the ancient scriptures, 12 “…to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God.  All they needed to do is to trust him to liberate them.”  (John 1:12 TLB)

Care to join our rebellion?

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

 

If you ask me what the single most important key to longevity is, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension…”
– George Burns

It is real, it is out there, and it could kill you!  It is waiting…watching… and you might be its next victim.  Let’s just say that it has your number.

Do I have your attention yet?  Wondering, “What is he talking about?”  Isn’t that painfully obvious by now?  I’m talking about – it!  

Now, let’s define it:

  • Something, nothing, the mountains, the molehills, – anything and everything – that leads to WORRY.

And you really need to get over it!

Are you the anxious, tense or uneasy type?  Tend to go over and over and over the same mostly negative scenarios in your mind?  Find yourself stuck on the what-if merry-go-round?

  • What if I lose my job?
  • What if I get a fatal disease?
  • What if my dog gets hit by a car?
  • What if I run out of money before I die?
  • What if I have a heart attack or a stroke?
  • What if terrorists blow up the mall while I’m shopping?

Here’s my personal favorite,

  • What if I don’t live up to everyone’s expectations?

That last one tells me that you are more concerned with the stuff people expect of you than with your own joy, peace and fulfillment in this life.  Yes, the carousel just keeps spinning… what if this…, what if that…, what if the other thing?  OMG what IF…!  Ahhhhhhhhhh!

What if you just chill for a few moments and hear me out; because, if you resonate at all with what I have said so far, you may be worrying your life away.  In the process you could also be deeply wounding your human spirit, distressing your mental health, and taxing your physical well-being (aka: worried sick).  I recently read a medical study that claimed, “Worriers are more likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, fatigue, miscellaneous aches, pains, and numerous other maladies.”   Yikes.  I’m not a medical expert, but my powers of observation have shown me that worrywarts are often pretty miserable people.

“Oh, but Dr. Cerreta, you just don’t understand.  I have to worry.  There’s just so much going on.  Things are out of control.  And besides, if I show enough ‘concern’ (a sometimes code word for worry) about it, I just might stop it from happening.

Oh really?  So how’s that been working out for you?  No matter how much you worry, fret and fuss, you cannot “foolproof” your little world.  But, you are right about one thing: life often seems very out of control – more precisely – out of your control.

Look, bad stuff happens.  It doesn’t matter who you are.   Happy people, sad people, good people, bad people, rich people, poor people – even really hardworking, honest, God fearing people; we all experience challenging and deeply painful moments.  Worry cannot resolve nor prevent a single one of them.

If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry about it.  Worry never fixes anything.”
– Mary Hemingway

Thomas S. Kepler (1897-1963) was a respected biblical scholar, prodigious author and professor of New Testament studies at Oberlin College.  Kepler also wrote a weekly syndicated newspaper column on religious issues. Some of you may already be aware of a story he once published about a woman who came to the realization that worry was ruining her life. According to Kepler, she began to keep track of what was distressing her.   Evidently Mr. Kepler did a rudimentary statistical analysis of her notes and this is what he found:

  • 40% of the things she worried about never happened.
  • 30% of the things she worried about already happened (i.e. – it’s the past, get over it).
  • 12% of the things she worried about were the expectations, opinions and criticisms of others.
  • 10% of the things she worried about were unnecessary health concerns, which actually made her health worse through prolonged anxiety.
  • 8% of the things she worried about were “reasonable concerns,” since life does have some real challenges to overcome.

So, if just 8% of her fears were actually reasonable, how legitimate are your “worries?”  I’d say there is a high degree of probability that you’re wasting a significant amount of time and energy fretting about things that are best left alone. No wonder you’re so worn-out. Apprehension is zapping your life energy. And for what benefit? As already stated, habitual and needless worry does not solve problems. And, even so called “reasonable concerns” are not an excuse for high anxiety. Most likely, your circumstances are not as ominous as you perceive them to be.

When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he too had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
― Winston Churchill

One of the most prolific contributors to the Bible’s New Testament was a pious man of faith named Paul.  He was highly educated, and for a time greatly respected as a spiritual leader among first century Jews.  Paul came to recognize that a man known at that time simply as Jesus was in reality a supernatural human fusion – Divinity incarnate in human form.  The “birth” of Jesus fulfilled prophecies of a long awaited liberator who would come to the earth and deliver humanity from spiritual blindness and iniquity through a plan of redemption.   Paul’s writings total at least 13 of the 27 books that comprise the New Testament. In addition to the theological teachings found in his epistles, he often included specific instructions for the various faith communities to which he wrote. One such letter was addressed to the early Christians living in ancient Philippi (a leading city of the district of Macedonia and an ancient Roman colony – Acts 16:12). Listen to these words of instruction,

6“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.  (Philippians 4:6)

Let’s break that down.

  • Don’t worry about anything.
  • Talk to God about everything.
  • Let God know your concerns (what you need).
  • Thank God for His solutions.

Sounds simple, right? Not so much.  Every word we just read is the absolute Truth, but it takes faith (trust) in a Divine power (God) that you cannot see and patient endurance to live it.  There is a Payoff. If we incorporate this way of thinking into our lifestyle, Paul said,

“…you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

The peace of God will calm you down and bring a supernatural rest to your soul (mind, will and emotions) when you put your absolute trust in Jesus, the liberator of spaceship earth.

Now, check out these additional words of wisdom from the Bible,

4-5”If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself alone. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 TLB)

Got it? If you really trust in God, there is no defensible reason to worry. Remember, Jesus came to this planet to introduce us to a personal and relevant unseen “father” (God) – not a religion. You can talk to your other worldly father (God) directly about your concerns and ask Him to help you.

When you finally decide that you will put God above everything else in your life and learn to consult Him first in every decision that you make; He will empower you to succeed at this thing called living.  I didn’t say that you will never fail.  Life is often full of setbacks and even some outright flops.  Continue to acknowledge God first, and ‘He will direct your steps.’ (Proverbs 3:6)  Do this over a lifetime and He will crown your efforts with the recompenses of eternity.

If the Creator of the universe is on your side ‘whom or what shall you fear?’ To be worried sick about anything shows a lack of trust and as such is an insult to God.”
― Unknown

Worrying accounts for hours and hours of invaluable time that you will never get back. Can all the energy you’ve wasted so far on anxiety heal your body, change your grades in school, improve your job performance, resolve a budget shortfall or protect you from identity theft? Has stressing out ever solved anything?   If you are at least willing to be honest with yourself, the answer is NO.

One more thought from the New Testament.  Jesus was talking with some of his followers one day and he said to them,

30 “…You have so little faith! 31 Do not worry. Do not keep saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘What will we wear?’ 32 The people who do not really know God are looking for all these things. Your Father in heaven knows you need them. 33 First of all… Be right with Him. All these other things will be given to you also.” (Matthew 6:30b-33)

Why not give up all of your worries and fears by surrendering these so called “concerns” to God? He cares about you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is also a fantastic listener. In fact, He is listening right now. Go ahead, talk to Him… Trust Him… Cast all of your cares upon Him… And please, stop worrying yourself to death!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2017 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved. For additional information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656. facebook.com/inspopoint
We do not understand the intricate pattern of the stars in their courses, but we know that He who created them does, and that just as surely as He guides them, He is charting a safe course for us.” ― Billy Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
I often think about, ‘How do we return to a simpler way of living? Is there some way that we can start to think of each other as human beings again, instead of worshiping money, instead of worshiping electronics, instead of worshiping getting ahead just for me?” – Giancarlo Esposito

Henry Ford, was an industrialist, and founder of the Ford Motor Company. He is perhaps best known for his refinement of the assembly line technique of mass production. Ford helped to revolutionize transportation by making the automobile more affordable to the masses. In 1909, he decided to reduce the number of model choices his company offered the motoring public. In his autobiography, My Life and Work, Mr. Ford wrote:

“…I announced one morning, without any previous warning, that in the future we were going to build only one model, that the model was going to be the “Model T,” and that the chassis would be exactly the same for all cars. I cannot say that any one agreed with me.” (1)

Ford was looking to simplify his business. He would now offer only one model available in four different body styles: a town car, a roadster, a coupe, and a landaulet. Ford also remarked:

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” (1)

I love it! Mr. Ford liked to keep it simple so he narrowed the choices. Let’s talk about choices and the simple life.

When people have too many choices, they make bad choices.” – Thom Browne

Have you visited a new car showroom lately? It can take hours just to pick a color, let alone choose from all of the available options. I’ve seen families spend weeks trying to decide what style and model of car to buy. It has become such an ordeal that some people may soon need counseling to get through the experience.

What about choosing a telephone? When I was growing up we got to pick from one model – The Western Electric 500 series. It was available in a few styles; the two most prominent were the table top and the wall mounted versions. This nifty little rotary dial gadget reigned supreme in the homes of North America from 1950 through 1984Western-Electric-500-Vintage-Rotary-Telephone-Black-1971

With the introduction of touch-tone service, the trusty old 500 series was refit with a push-button keypad. First a 10 button model was introduced in 1963 followed by the 12 button model we know today in 1968. And get this, you didn’t own it! That’s right. You rented the phone for a monthly fee. Even worse – everyone in the household used the same phone and it was attached to the wall by a wire! Oh the pain, the pain of it all.

Today, choosing a phone can be more nerve racking than a broken front tooth the day before your wedding. Right now, there are no less than 103 different cell phone brands available. Collectively, they offer multiplied thousands of models.

Let’s not forget all the monthly “plans” and the associated need to decide which one is right for you. Will you choose the family and friends plan, or maybe the neighbor and coworker package, or perhaps the friends, Romans and countrymen plan? (Okay, they don’t have that last one).

Fear not, when you finally settle on the combination of data, text messaging and who you can call, when you can call and how many minutes you can talk – surprise – that plan will be phased out.

I did the best I could, and in some arenas, my best was not good enough. I’ve made some bad choices.” – Amy Grant

Have you ever sat down and tried to choose a family vacation destination or even just a place for the whole family to dine out? In my household we must approach this task delicately – and unarmed – or we’d all be on death row by now. There are too many “options”, making a group consensus nearly impossible.

Everywhere you turn – decisions that involve multiple choices await you.  Like grocery stores. Forget about it, there are dozens of selections for just about any single item you want to buy.

What about appliance centers? I want a refrigerator. Who knew they made hundreds of different models? They’ve got ones that practically grow and process the food.

Look at all the furniture outlets. No wonder they have a going out of business sale every two weeks, there are not enough people alive on earth to purchase all that stuff. I saw a man sleeping on one of the sofas at the local mega-décor store. I believe he collapsed from exhaustion just trying to see everything.

And, let’s not bring up clothing. Some people are ready to convert the garage into a walk-in closet and that’s just for their shoes. It already takes them over an hour to pick out a shirt. Soon they will be unable to make that choice as well. Probably join a nudist colony – hey, no clothing decisions there.

I now understand why so many people are walking around malls and other shopping centers murmuring in a semi coherent state. They can’t decide on anything. Better to just keep wandering, texting and hoping for the best.

Okay, I’ll cut the drama now. There is a point here. Choice overload is very real.

Alvin Toffler, the writer, futurist and former associate editor of Fortune magazine wrote, “Over-choice takes place when the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of a buyer’s decision-making process.” (2) To put that in simple terms – when you have too much to choose from you can become confused and overwhelmed to the point that you cannot make a decision at all. And often, you don’t. Or, you make poor choices.

For years we’ve heard the clarion calls of culture declare “more is better” or “he who dies with the most toys wins!” Bunkum!

Unfortunately, some of our poor choices are irreversible, but many are not. Often, we can change course and get back on the right track.” – James E. Faust

The man from Galilee had it right nearly 2000 years ago,

15 Then Jesus said to them all, “Watch yourselves! Keep from wanting all kinds of things you should not have. A man’s life is not made up of things, even if he has many riches.” (Luke 12:15 NLV)

36 “And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? 37 For is anything worth more than his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37 TLB)

What is your peace of mind (soul) worth? Will you continue to sacrifice your soul for the latest cell phone, more money, a newer car, boat, or house? To lead a better life, we need to rediscover the simple life. The pressure to accumulate what you really do not need or to climb to new heights where you really do not belong can kill you. No, I take that back, if you are empty inside, you are already dead.

When Jesus visited our planet, people were busy doing all the same things people do today – buying, selling, accumulating, lying, cheating, stealing, and pretending there is no God. Politicians were duping the public and raping the treasury. Need I continue? Jesus walked onto the stage of humanity and in the midst of all the noise and confusion he issued an invitation,

28 “Come to me, all of you who work and have heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Follow my teachings and learn from me. I am gentle and do not have pride. You will have rest for your souls. 30 For My way of carrying a load is easy and my load is not heavy.” (Matthew 11:28-3 NLV)

The choice here is simple. No confusion. No overload. Choose his way and gain a timeless life, filled with inner joy and peace. Or just keep doing things your way. It’s your life, your decision, but I do hope you choose wisely.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got my toes in the water and my… well, you know the rest. Life is good today.

My Father in Heaven, please help my friends to find rest. Show them how to slow down and how to avoid the overload of too many choices. To shed the weight they carry and find forgiveness and a new life in Jesus. Thank you my God. Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
  • (1) From My Life and Work by Henry Ford, Samuel Crowther, Copyright, 1912 by Doubleday, Page & Company. Pages 71, 72
  • (2) From Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1971
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi (born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, India) was an activist and religious contemplative. He began his involvement in social activism in the early 1900’s as an Indian immigrant in South Africa. In the years following World War I, he went on to become the primary leader of India’s struggle to gain liberation from Great Britain. Gandhi is perhaps best remembered as the father of nonviolent passive resistance. Employing peaceful civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.

Mahatma (which means “great soul”) was a Hindu. He greatly admired some of the teachings of Jesus. In fact, some historical narratives affirm that the Sermon on the Mount shaped his whole philosophy of life. But Gandhi was not a Christian. A true follower of the Christ is much more than someone who simply regards Jesus as a “great teacher” or a “wise prophet”.

Some writers tell of a missionary named E. Stanley Jones who asked Mr. Gandhi why he so often quoted the words of Jesus and yet appeared to so adamantly reject becoming his follower. Gandhi allegedly replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It is just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ”.

Really. You claim to love Jesus but you do not follow Him because Christians are so unlike Him? (Where have I heard that before?)       

Honestly, missionary Jones messed up. He should have seized that moment and said,

Mr. Gandhi, I agree with you. Christians are often a mess. Many are hypocrites. Sometimes they even act like the devil. But sir, no one has asked you to follow the Christians. My question to you again is, why are you not a follower of Jesus?

The great commission does not say go into all the world and make Christians out of everybody? Listen to what Jesus actually said,

19”Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 New Life Version)

Followers? That’s what it says. Of whom? JESUS, of course. Certainly not you or the brand name of the church you attend. Not the newest Christian movement of the month either. Our commission is to help others become followers of JESUS and teach them to obey His words and imitate His life.

The Gospel (which simply means GOOD NEWS) is all about Jesus. He is the liberator of mankind and the source of true wisdom, knowledge and understanding of human life on earth.

The Gospel message is flawless. It declares the love and grace of the creator of all things (God) toward a doomed world. Christianity is not flawless. Christianity is simply the imperfect human interpretation (response to) and inconsistent expression of the Gospel message. Only Jesus is perfect and He is the perfector of mankind. Christianity (the Church) at best, is an imperfect work in progress.

“The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones”. ― Henry Ward Beecher

The New Testament writer, Paul, said:

“For consider, what have the philosopher, the writer and the critic of this world to show for all their wisdom? Has not God made the wisdom of this world look foolish? For it was after the world in its wisdom failed to know God, that he in his wisdom chose to save all who would believe by the “simple-mindedness” of the Gospel message. For the Jews ask for miraculous proofs and the Greeks an intellectual panacea, but all we preach is Christ crucified—a stumbling block to the Jews and sheer nonsense to the Gentiles, but for those who are called, whether Jews or Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. And this is really only natural, for God’s “foolishness” is wiser than men, and his “weakness” is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-25 – PHILLIPS)

Paul was fully aware that the arrogance of Greek philosophy would likely dismiss the message of the Gospel as “foolishness.” It would be out of step with their cerebral conjectures. But he was also convinced that the Good News contained the one philosophy that fulfills every human need. The Gospel message presents the finished work of Jesus (the Christ) in an easily understood format to a lost world. Jesus represents the perfect man even as he is the very manifestation of the incarnate God visiting this planet. So, whether to the Greek (non-Jews), or to the Jew, Paul was not ashamed to preach the Gospel message.

I find no shame in sharing the wonderful Good News of Jesus with anyone who would care to listen. But please make no mistake, as a Christian, I am not asking you to follow me nor am I asking you to attend my church or “get religion”. I am asking you to hear what Jesus had to say and follow Him.

16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it, both Jew and Greek. I see in it God’s plan for imparting righteousness to men, a process begun and continued by their faith. For, as the scripture says: ‘the just shall live by faith’.” (Romans 1:16-17 – PHILLIPS)

We are lost and depraved people stranded on a doomed planet in need of enlightenment and liberation. The remedy for our dilemma is made known in the gospel; a gracious method of redemption through the liberator Jesus who restores us to a position of favor with the creator of all things (God). Faith (trust) is the catalyst, both at the inception and through the progression of the Christian life. By faith (trust) we secure our liberation, and by faith (trust) we gain the victory over unbelief. “The just shall live by faith.” A life of faith is a life of trust and obedience.

“To have Faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.” ― C.S. Lewis

Gandhi may have had one point worth a moment’s ponderance; if the word Christian means follower of Christ, is it so unreasonable that our contemporary world balks at Churches filled with people who seldom practice what they preach? The Scripture urges all Christians to “Be doers of the Word and not just mere hearers lest you deceive yourselves” (James 1:22). It is not enough to just say “I am a Christian”. Our way of life should reflect the Jesus we claim to follow.

Just because someone carries a Bible and even sounds religious doesn’t mean that they are a true follower of Jesus. Head this warning,

15-20 “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned”. (Matthew 7:15-20 – The Message)

A Christian is one whose life is built on the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament writers. But remember, Christians are not faultless – far from it. That is why you should not judge the validity of the Jesus message by the level of application found in his disciples. A true Christian is someone who has found rest for their soul in the liberator Jesus and who attempts to live the life that Jesus modeled when he visited earth.

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” ― Brennan Manning

Christian – the world is watching you. People are reading the “Book of You” every day. What message are they receiving? Hmmmmm?

Enough said….

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
We are what we believe we are.” C.S Lewis

 William James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century. He was an American philosopher, psychologist and trained physician.

Born in New York City on January 11, 1842, James was the oldest of five children. His father was a Swedenborg theologian and his brother, Henry James Jr., became a prominent fiction novelist.

A prolific author himself, William James gained widespread recognition for writing The Principles of Psychology (1890), a two volume work of over twelve hundred pages. It took more than 10 years to complete and it was considered a seminal work on the subject.  He is often called the “Father of American psychology”.

James became more interested in philosophical issues as his life progressed. He seemed to fluctuate between a scientific approach to the study of faith and the belief that religious experience encompasses the supernatural domain, making it accessible to the individual human spirit but somehow inaccessible to science.

Honestly, I resonate with very little of his philosophical leanings. But I did make note of one particular William James quote, “The greatest revolution in our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

In other words, we are what we believe!

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing is what makes it happen.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Some practitioners of modern Psychology are beginning to embrace the understanding that what we believe determines who we become. This construct is nothing new, of course. In fact, there is no such thing as “new” if you believe the words of the ancient book of Ecclesiastes which says,

9-11 History merely repeats itself. Nothing is truly new; it has all been done or said before. What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn’t exist long ages ago? We don’t remember what happened in those former times, and in the future generations no one will remember what we have done back here. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)

Since the book of Ecclesiastes is a part of Scripture, and I count myself among the multiplied millions who believe the Bible to contain the truth, I agree with what the writer said. History merely repeats itself.

Now to the point: prophets, priests and assorted writers of scripture have all pointed to this timeless truth – we are what we believe – long before it dawned on modern psychology that there just might be something to it. Consider this quote from the ancient biblical book of Proverbs:

“As a man thinks in his heart – so is he”. (Proverbs 23:7)

This providential truism was penned nearly 3 millennia ago. It affirms that our life is a manifestation of what we believe. (i.e. –REALLY believe – not random thoughts, fleeting emotional confusion or nightmares brought on by eating peperoni and anchovy pizza before going to bed).

If this is true – we are what we believe – I am in effect everything that I have consistently believed that I am. But why?

Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right” Henry Ford

The human spirit expresses itself through words. Whatever is inside of you – your core beliefs – will come out in the things you say. Our speech patterns reflect our belief patterns. In one of His great discourses, Jesus put it this way in the New Testament,

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:37).

Simply put, malevolent people speak malevolent words. Happy people speak happy words. Sad people speak sad words. Victorious people speak words of victory.

Now consider this, if you believe that you are a loser, your speech will reflect it. You will consistently reinforce through your words, I am a failure. And fail you will.

Some of you may be wondering, “are words really that important?” Yes, they are. Again, turning to the teaching of Jesus, listen carefully to what he said about inner belief and the power of your words:

“Have faith in God,” replied Jesus to them. “I tell you that if anyone should say to this hill, ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea’, and without any doubt in his heart believes that what he says will happen, then it will happen! That is why I tell you, whatever you pray about and ask for, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-25

Jesus begins by telling his followers to trust in God. He then delivers the crux of his illustrative teaching; when you speak what you believe in your heart with absolute doubtless conviction, those things that you SAY will happen. We are what we believe because we speak what we believe. Over time, what we say is what we get. Get it?

Let your tongue speak what your heart thinks”. – Davy Crockett

Inner convictions (what we believe) train our lips. Trained lips shape our lives. Quoting from the Book of Proverbs once again,

“The heart of the wise teaches his mouth”. (Proverbs 16:23)

I am what I believe because I keep speaking what I believe over and over and over again. Eventually it manifests as my life. And, of course, I act accordingly.

When your heart is right with God and you fill your spirit with the truth, your spirit will teach your lips and your words will change your world.

Now some may misunderstand my purpose in this discourse. So let me be perfectly clear; you cannot go around speaking whatever your little heart desires and expect every selfish craving to materialize. God is not a genie or your personal leprechaun. I fully believe what the Psalmist wrote,

4”Be happy in the Lord. And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

But I also believe in the tempering Wisdom of Solomon,

Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. (Proverbs 16:3 Amp)

When my thoughts are in agreement with God’s will for my life, I will be filled with His truth and I will speak in line with His purpose. As a result, I expect my plans to succeed.

Guard Your Heart

Once we understand how important our spirit is to human development, we must learn to guard what we let into our heart. Turning one last time to the book of Proverbs, listen carefully to this admonition,

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Wow. Our spirit charts the course of life. Every word we speak with conviction – over time –molds and shapes our existence. FAITH is born in our spirit. FAITH (trust, reliance, conviction, assurance, confidence, belief), is released with every word that we speak. Faith filled words can move mountains. Not by magic. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s not a positive mental attitude. It’s THE SPIRIT OVER MATTER THRU WORDS. Or as Jesus explained it: Whosoever says… and does not doubt… but absolutely believes what he says… will have what he says.

We are what we believe we are… 14“May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

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