The time it takes to accelerate from 0 to 60 (mph) is a commonly used performance measure for automotive acceleration in the United States and the United Kingdom.
For me 0 to 60 (yrs) I will use as the performance measure of my spiritual growth because on 8/14/17 I reached mile marker 60. Next stop.. Methuselah-land in the year 2926 (0 to 969)
Looking back I can easily spot significant highs on my 0 to 60 timeline.
0 - 1957 Happy Birthday to Me!
6 - 1963 I accepted Jesus into my heart,
14 - 1971 I was baptized,
27 - 1984 I got married,
29, 31, 34 - 1986, 1988, and 1991 .. the birth of my 3 kids.
43 - 2000 I launched my Back Pew website
53, 56, 58 - 2010, 2013, 2015 The grand-kids started showing up. Three so far, and another on the docket for July.
So Life is GOOD, and there are plenty more milestones on my 0-60 trek along with a number of bumps in the road. Some little (broken bones), while other potholes in my life really shook me.
I have wandered onto a bunny trail or two, and taken shortcuts that were actually long-cuts only to come to a place where I realized 'I can't get there from here'.
There were even a few speeding tickets while in a hurry I zoomed past roads clearly marked Isaiah 40:31 'They that wait upon the Lord, He will renew their strength'.
I even ran out of gas a few times but thankfully no matter if I could'a should'a done better I have stayed the course calling roadside assistance (Help me God, I am lost!) as needed. There were even a few times where I was completely broke down and needed God's 'Prodigal Son 24/7 Towing Service'. I thought it was a bother to call PS Towing, but they (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) were so glad I called, and even brought me a hot roast beef (fatted calf) sandwich because they knew per usual.. I would be hungry.
So here I am at 60, and while I am pretty pretty sure I will not reach road marker 969 'The Methuselah Mile' but I am not ready to park it yet. It is PRICELESS to realize I am loved, encouraged, blessed, and can count on my loving Heavenly Father even when I complicate the road I travel.
May God bless each of you along your road in ways that are beyond your dreams. And remember these words from the owners manual.
Stay the course, avoid Route 666. For the road is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and even seems right as it seems everyone is on Route 666. Remember the Highway to Heaven is straight, and narrow but it leads to life, even though it is the road less traveled. Mt 7:13-14 AAA Translation
Jeff (Road Warrior) Larson
The Resounding Silence of God
Max Lucado wrote a book back in 1994 titled ''When God whispers your name'. It is a great read with his usual humor and insights, but my question is..
What happens when God whispers my name but .. I am hard of hearing?
Just a few short years ago I weathered personal hurricane force storms in back to back years. At the time I didn't know if I would survive the first storm only to be windblown and tattered the next year too.
Let me tell you I literally cried (sobbed), and cried out to God for HELP. I wanted a God to calm these storms, but my prayers were met with the resounding SILENCE of God.
Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Ps 10:1
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Ps 22:1-2
I admit my cries to God were not as eloquent David penned in the above Psalms, but I still believe I shed enough literal tears to warrant flood insurance.
Side note on Crying: When a woman cries we feel empathy as her deep emotions touch our hearts. When a man cries it sounds like a wounded Badger caught in a trap trying to gnaw off his leg in a short sighted attempt to resolve his problem 'on his own'. Those in ear shot want to put that wounded badger out of his misery. and for crying men to .. STOP IT!
Now back to my storms..
Over time I discovered God's providence/answers were found in what I perceived as His silence. During my storms I believed I must experience the full impact of my situation (mistakes and circumstances) because that is how life works. Life rains on the just and the unjust, the Jeffs and the unJeffs while I stand outside crying in this deluge with my head tipped to the Heavens with my mouth open .. drowning!
We all know the story of Peter walking on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on those very real waves.. and began to sink. Just like Peter those the very real waves in my life overwhelmed me because I did not put my trust in the man who walks on water and calms the seas.
The good news is I did endure these storms and found over time how faithful and loving God was and is. He is faithful where He changed me(but still a work in progress), and blessed my wife and I with opportunities, and new friendships that would not have existed if God had not remained silent to my storms.
You might say, well life is just turning around for you, but I believe it was God's Resounding Silence.
The details of my storm(s) are not important except to say.. I am so thankful for God's love and His providence, and His answers to my prayers were to..
“Be still, and know that He is God." Ps 46:10
Be still, be faithful, be listening, be prayerful, and enjoy the Resounding Silence of God.
Jeff (actually wearing Hearing Aids) Larson
What I really really want..
Ha ha ha ha ha
Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha)
I wanna really, really, really wanna .. - Spice Girls Worship Band?
Just so you don't worry more about me I do know the song Wannabe neither deep, or a worship song with a catchy tune.
I am at one of those crossroads in my life. Looking for the right employment opportunity, and also my wife and I are looking to move to the right home for this stage in our lives. So in discussing our future the phrase "what I really want" seemed to come up often.. and my caffeinated brain 'logically' jumped into the lyrics from the 1996 song 'Wannabe' by the Spice Girls. Not that I was a fan of the Spice Girls, but it was a catchy tune.
But I also know it is OK to talk to God about what I want what I really want because He cares about what I want what I really really want. So I tell Him what I want what I really really want.
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me! -- Psalm 66:16-20 (ESV)
Our God is better than any Genie in a Lamp where our every wish/prayer is granted. Our God is our personal loving Heavenly Father hears our cry and desires what is best for each of us.
So to be clear I can count on God wanting his best for me, and even better yet He KNOWS what is best for me. During our recent house shopping we have made offers on three homes so far but each time the offer of another potential buyer was chosen. The last offer we were the runner up to the buyer who was chosen. I guess we were like the Miss Congeniality of home buyers.. and were still disappointed.
But after this moment (ok, it was a half a day) of disappointment. We turned back to trusting God in this process an actually excited about it realizing God really wants what He really really wants is our best.
I believe He is personally involved with our lives and this home buying process. This is what I believe and where my hope is.
No matter if you are buying a home, single and looking for Mr or Mrs Right, choosing a career path, or the church you attend I pray you put your trust in the God who loves you. He is not indifferent, he is not detached. So pray to God and tell Him what you want.
Psalm 139:7-8 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.
So one last time.. Tell God what you want, what you really want.. and seek His will. The best is yet to come.
Jeff (really really wanting a job, a house, and 3 inches off my waistline) Larson
WrestleMania with God
I am attempting AGAIN to read through my Bible this year. So far, so good as I am on track. Anyways, one of the stories I read recently was Jacob wrestling with God/ an Angel in the night, and would not let go of God until he would bless him. The wrestling match finally ended as God put Jacob's hip out of socket.
This is an interesting story as though Jacob blessed by God even though his life journey I am not sure modeled being close, listening, or obedient to God in the details of his life.
Exhibit A: Jacob deceived his father Isaac into giving him the blessing of the first born which was due to go to his brother Esau.
Exhibit B: His unique marriage with sisters Leah and Rachel and their battle to produce more offspring was interesting to say the least.
Exhibit C: Jacob's relationship with his father in law Laben did not seem to involve alot of prayer as there was little trust between them.
So with this trail of doing things his own way Jacob now fears his brother Esau is about to attack and kill him bringing Jacob to that night of WrestleMania with God.
Seems to me Jacob was not reading his bible, or praying the Lord's prayer daily. Ok, I do know there was not bible for Jacob to read, or the Lord's prayer to model after but my point is Jacob seemed to plow through life without being as in touch with God as he should be. Then as Esau approaches Jacob determines desperate times require desperate measures and so he grapples with God for a blessing .. and oh by the way God, DON'T LET MY BROTHER KILL ME!
While I have not stole any birth rights, married sisters, or schemed against my father in law I can relate to doing things my way. And unlike Jacob I do have a bible to read, and the Lord's Prayer as I commune with God., but I sometimes let those intimacy times with God slide This often leads to a mess either big or small leaving me to cry to God "Bless me.. I won't quit bugging you til you bless me. .. Did you hear me God? I'm still waiting."
So I thank God for these Old Testament stories where timeless truths are shared. The story of Esau is the story of man where God's blessings and goodness go beyond who we are or what we deserve. Oh it is much easier when I stay close to God, but I thank He is there for me even when I go all 'Jacob' on him.
I pray today God bless each of you with the truth of his love and grace. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.
Jeffrey (Jacob Jr.) Larson
How does my resume look? Am I qualified? Can God really use me if I am just a NOBODY with nothing to offer? What if my self-esteem is in the DIRT of my Monday - Friday RUT where I deem myself too poor, dumb, and insecure to make a difference for God.
Oh sure I attend church most every Sunday, Men's bible study on Wednesday, and my wife and I even host a Small Group bible study every other Sunday night.. but what difference does any of that make? Who am I? I am NOBODY.
Even my career path now seems to be careening through life in hopes to not break anything. I am a former computer programmer who then owned a sports officials management business.
Then a couple years ago I sold the sports biz and since then I have not figured out exactly what I want to do when I.. grow up or retire.. whichever comes first.
And this whole cartooning passion I have is not what I would call a successful 'get rich quick' scheme or a cash cow.
Don't get me wrong, I am not lazy. I have worked jobs in the past, and will again as needed to make ends meet. I have even been the PAPER BOY (for God?) delivering the daily newspaper.
Then to further assault my self esteem not so many years ago I received actual US mail declaring I was nobody. Well, actually worse than nobody.. the letter said I was DEAD. This letter was from my bank addressed to Jeffrey DEAD Larson instead of Jeffrey DEAN Larson.
I am not sure if that was a typo or a snarky comment on my personal credit so I did quick check my pulse, and good news.. I was not dead.
I was still a NOBODY, but a living breathing NOBODY.
So I turn to God's word for encouragement and inspiration in hopes to find a glimmer of hope that I am not a NOBODY, but rather a somebody. I was quickly reminded of great Bible somebody's. A few of the who's who in God's word.
By God using these very flawed men to serve him in great ways it demonstrates it has always about God's message and not the messenger.... so maybe there is hope for a NOBODY like me.
NOBODY(s) for JESUS.. sounds more like a label for a Christian support group than a battle cry to serve God. Can't you hear our Battle Cry?
Who are we? nobody.
The mighty mighty.. Nobodys?
Who am I without God anyways? BUT an equally good question is.. WHO AM I WITH GOD? What is possible? This is not to say God will use me to part any Red Seas, raise any dead, or become the Billy Graham of Christian cartoons, .. but I believe if I am willing, God will bless and use me in ways that are beyond what I could dream.
The one thing I am daily reminded is.. this life is not about me. It is about loving God with all my heart soul and mind and caring for others. To be faithful in the moments presented to me each day and then God can and will use me in little subtle ways for sure, and who knows maybe in big ways. I am sure there is a sea that needs parting somewhere.
May God bless and use each of you as you are faithful to HIm in ways that are always beyond our dreams and all that God intends.
Have a great day. Smile lots.. and enjoy life!
Jeff (NOBODY) Larson
Breaking Bad.. again (rr)
Breaking Bad was the hit TV show on AMC a few years back where unassuming high school chemistry teacher and family man Walter White evolves over 5 seasons into someone truly bad.
Maybe.. Not since God tossed Satan out of Heaven has there been a comparable BREAKING BAD moment.
Walter White's life was a slippery slope of compromise, and his white lies evolved into massive cover-ups. Walter White changes over these few years into a ruthless big time meth producer responsible for countless murders, and in the end, he dies alone, his family is destroyed, and the wake of his truly bad choices on those around him were far reaching for both innocent and guilty. Even those who survived DID NOT live happily ever after but were truly Badly Broken.
note: For those of you contemplating binge watching Breaking Bad on Netflix please disregard the previous paragraph. MY BAD
Ok, so far there are three obvious lessons learned
1. Don't cook Meth,
2. Don't Murder, and
3. Don't trust criminals to keep secrets.
But Breaking Bad is actually the story of mankind and from the very beginning it seems to be BAD is what we do. Since the very beginning our sins great and small, and our attempts to cover them up is the common plot line for the stories we tell and live.
Even our Bibles are filled with Breaking Bad moment of literally biblical proportions. Let me share a few.
Then let's fast forward to a few more contemporary Breaking Bad paths we travel today..
But no matter our flavor of Breaking Bad there are so many great scripture truths of comfort and perspective.
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.
AND if/when we fall.. know the grace of our Heavenly Father is perfect. No matter how great or small your prodigal son or daughter moment.
May God bless each of you on your journey.
I would not claim I have a great memory and I am horrible with names. I confuse and/or forget names often, embarrassingly often.
But what I do remember clearly are my past mistakes/blunders/boo-boos and/or 'sins'. These memories are clear and hard for me sometimes to let go. This 'Jeff Larson blooper reel' when played can spur on all sorts of regrets often accompanied with those ucomfortable feelings of shame and failure.
This is NOT what God intends.. for as far as the East is from the West so are our sins removed. Ps 103:12 from us once I ask forgiveness. This is good news for regret laden fellow like me.
I do need to ask forgiveness and be truly sorry and not saying sorry through clenched teeth, but once that is done.. forgiveness is full and complete.
The bible teaches us we are forgiven and God remembers our sins no more.
He will again have compassion on us.. you will cast our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19
This of course does not imply God is forgetful, but simply our sins are forgiven and we they should no longer be a weight on our hearts or minds.
Again.. If we confess our sins, God forgives us and remembers them no more.
The point is they are GONE so let your mind find peace in this great truth.
My prayer today is that God bless you with the assurance of His love. He forgives and forgets your every transgression, and he answers your prayers like the perfect Heavenly Father he is.
And.. He can and will restore you and I both in ways that are beyond our dreams. Isaiah 40:31
important note: Not all regrets are due to past sins. Our honest mistakes, limited abilities, wrong choices, bloopers that were not sins can also haunt us. Please read Isaiah 40:28-31, and Psalms 23 to for messages of hope that is in our loving Heavenly Father.
BIG GOD.. little God
The universe was born with the Big Bang as an unimaginably hot, dense point. When the universe was just 10-34 of a second or so old — that is, a hundredth of a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second in age — it experienced an incredible burst of expansion known as inflation, in which space itself expanded faster than the speed of light. During this period, the universe doubled in size at least 90 times, going from subatomic-sized to golf-ball-sized almost instantaneously. - excerpt from Science.com article, June 6, 2017.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5
Today, I return to one of my favorite topics.. Our Great God! From the micro to the macro of all things with order and purpose is the handy-work of our Creator. I won't belabor the point, but the complexity of all things from the micro level to the ends of the universe declare their is a God.
Science is the finite study of what infinite God created.
Science examines the boundaries of time and space, while God transcends both time and space.
In summary God is BIG.. we are not.
Then we turn on the evening news that spews stories of panic and where blind vitriolic hatred replaces reasonable discussions. There are wars and rumors of wars, political divide and anarchy like I can't remember. Until the last year I believed the sun was at the center of the universe, but the evening news now reports the center of the universe is actually a dark star named Donald Trump. All stories somehow seem to include his name.
note: This was not statement about Donald Trump (pro or con) but just the rabid obsession of the evening news.
What is missing in all of this is our God. The creator of our universe needs to be the center of our universe, not Donald Trump, the Pope, your job, or your favorite sports team. Don't put your hope in any of these things or you will be disappointed.
Love the Lord God with all your soul, heart and mind and others as yourself. I repeat these words of Jesus often as this must be the returning starting point of each day. To lose focus in life of these two greatest commandments of Jesus will skew your day. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Now let me take a moment to reflect on life with a proper perspective. Right now I am sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee in my warm home typing while outside my window is a very busy very cold city of Roseville Mn where the air temp right now is one degree above zero. In this city thousands of parallel lives all important to God are going about their business with many navigating to their jobs in rush hour traffic on icy roads.
This city sits in the equally cold state of Minnesota, Minnesota is one of 50 states in the United States of America where millions more go about their lives.. all important to God. Our country is in this even more complex and diverse world with millions more parallel lives go about their day.. and this world hangs in our Solar System orbiting around the Sun. And our Solar System hangs their nicely in our infinite Universe.
Now back to Earth in my home where again each of us important to God. Our God is both so breathtakingly BIG, and also so very personal all at the same time. Is it possibly to fully grasp this truth? NO, but what other way could it be?
So I leave today's ramble on two cups of coffee and on my way to a third cup with the prayer that our focus not be on this world of so much angst, but instead on our amazing God the creator of all things, and the lover of you and me.
How can we help but love and serve Him.
Gloom, Despair, and Agony on me!
Gloom, despair, and agony on me Deep, dark depression, excessive misery If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all Gloom, despair, and agony on me.
Sounds like a Hee-Haw paraphrased excerpt from Ecclesiastes penned by King Solomon. In reality that is half right.
These are in fact the lyrics from the song of the same title.. Gloom Depair and Agony on me. by Buck Owens & Roy Clark. This tune was played as part of a regular comedy sketch on the TV show Hee-Haw where hillbilly folk lamented their dire circumstances.
For those of you too young to know, or trying to forget.. Hee-Haw was a television variety show featuring country music and corny but clean humor with the fictional rural "Kornfield Kounty" as a backdrop. It aired on CBS from 1969 to 1971.
note: If you have not figured it out by now, I am your go-to source for obscure TV and movie trivia. You are all very welcome.
Gloom & Despair could also describes my mantra if I delve into my own very unattractive pity party.
All is lost, gloom and doom, and life is so bad I would feel 'lucky' to call my circumstance hopeless. I am a LOSER,
BUT.. no matter the circumstances, and/or blunders I really make (and I have made a few) I purposefully choose to put my faith in God.
If God is for us, who can be against us? Ro:31 This is easily one of greatest rhetorical questions EVER!
So instead of the worry and angst that goes along with living in this imperfect world that I contribute to so imperfectly I pray for peace and perspective from our God. Paul writes, In any circumstance I have learned the secret of being content whether well fed or hungry,, in abundance or in need.
What is contentment in any circumstance? It is AGAIN.. to love God with all your heart soul and mind and others as yourself. All of life hangs on those two commandments. - Jesus, Matthew 22:36-40
I think the Apostle Paul was the king of contentment that rose above any circumstance. No place Gloom, Despair, or Agony on me, deep dark depression, excessive misery in the eyes of Paul. Only loving God and serving others.
May God bless each of you on life's journey with a gloom and despair free attitude.
Me, myself, and I. Me.. me.. me. , What about me? , What's in it for ME?
A while back I heard a sermon where the pastor described the Me-Monster. I have to admit I don't recall much of the sermon, but I remember it was good AND it impressed on my cartoonist brain to sketch in my sermon notes The Me-Monster.
So I brought Mr. Me-Monster home scanned him into my computer and did a little Photoshop extreme makeover on him all so I could share his surly mugshot with you. Without further delay Ilet me present.. The Me-Monster. Ta-da!
The Me-Monster is an ugly fella, and even his open mouth resembles an M, and the back of his throat an E. The disturbing thing about this Me-Monster is that when our motives, focus, and actions are focused on .. SELF.. any of us can become a pretty gnarly looking creature too.
There are plenty of uber-attention seeking folk out there that flaunt there success and perceived self-worth without a speck of humility. They live in a world where success is measured by the car they drive, the neighborhood they live in and that lovely lake home up north. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of these things unless it inspires a me-centered ego trip.
Now on the other hand I have more of an econo-sized Me-Monster. My monster is does not get identity from a high profile existence, but did show up recently as I became unemployed.
What do I do now? What will my friends think of me? What does my wife, and my adult children think of me?
Of course it is important to learn from life's pitfalls, circumstances, and/or blunders.. And it is ok to hurt when bad 'stuff' happens. These are opportunities to move do my best, learn and move forward.
I will confess in the past I have wallowed pretty low during difficult times. I struggle with anxiety and depression from time to time (which I am pretty sure neither are NOT listed in the 'fruit of God's spirit).
Panic and Despair have in the past injured my self-esteem and worth and all fed my Econo-Me-Monster .
I share this because my wife told me recently how proud she is of how I am handling my current unemployed state. She can see I am sad, but not going to a low place, and that I am seeking God during this time. I must confess those where precious words of affirmation to ME from the woman I love,
I could ramble on about ME as I am prone to do, but wanted to conclude with again God's two greatest commandments. 'Love God with all your soul and mind and others as yourself.' Mt 22:37.
What if I focused my life on these words of Jesus? Then all the details and trimmings of this life while nice would be trivia to a life well lived... and no Me-Monster.
May God bless and use each of you in ways that are beyond your dreams. May our lives be about God's Kingdom and not ours. And may you be Me-Monster free.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson
Back Pew - Draw Close to God
116 pages of cartoons of 'Clean Humor & God's Truth'
CRITICS ARE SAYING..
Laughter is just a CLICK away