This 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.
To summarize for those scoring at home.. God is BIG, and 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 between the years 2016-2020 the center of the universe is actually a dark star named Donald Trump. All stories somehow seem to include his name. WHO KNEW!
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 POTUS, the Pope, your job, your favorite sports team (Go Pack Go!) or.. ME. 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. Matthew 22:37-39
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.
Now back to Earth in my home where I sit in my office chair. 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?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
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 big world with it's big 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. How can we help but pursue Him.
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.
Gloom & Despair could be a paraphrased excerpt from Ecclesiastes penned by King Solomon.. but.. in fact they are the lyrics from the silly country ditty 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 be the mantra for 2021. I thought 2020 was bad, but.. 2021 is not starting out so great either. We still have Covid wearing masks, we still have Civil unrest, racial tensions, we have a nation very much divided, and (in my opinion) a church that looks more like the world than it does Jesus.
All is lost, gloom and doom, and life is so bad I would feel 'lucky' to call our circumstances hopeless. Are we all LOSERS living in Loserville USA?
No offense intended, but I am positive to some degree or another this is true. BUT.. no matter the circumstances, and/or blunders we make individually or collectively we can purposefully choose to repent and return to God.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." 1 John 1:9
Our hope is not in politicians, or a social justice agendas, our hope is in Jesus.
note: Jesus is not a cliché', Jesus is truth, He is our salvation. He came to Earth, was our perfect example and teacher for life. He lived, and died on the Cross, and rose again so that we might live.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
So for all us losers in Loserville, the question of the hour is.. If God is for us, who can be against us? Ro:31 This is easily one of greatest rhetorical questions EVER!
Instead of the worry and angst that goes along with living imperfectly in this imperfect world in a very imperfect year 2021 .. we can have peace and perspective from our God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
This peace comes when we.. 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 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.
So today I pray.. May God bless each of you in 2021 with a gloom and despair free attitude knowing ..
My help (your help too) comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.. Psalm 121 1
Amen, and amen!
Everyone loves Top 10 lists. So today I will share my Top 10 Ways to Die in the Bible. note: By top 10 ways to die I am talking about moments that make a fellow shout "OWEE, OWEE!"
To qualify for this list the death must meet the following 3 Criteria..
So here we go,
Honorable mentions go to Eglon, the enemies of Samson, and the victims of the infamous Jars & Trumpet militia.
Your list may be different than mine, and in fact please write me your favorite ways to die from the Bible. It could make my next list.
Let me close today's ramble with the topic of 'Near Death' Experiences
In sharp contrast to top 10 ways to die we have Near Death experiences. No not the 'out of body' stories we read about, but instead our 'sinners saved by Grace' kind of experience.
When we realize our best is a filthy rags Isaiah 64:6 before God, but with a repentant heart we can receive this Amazing Grace of God we move from 'near death' an eternity in Hell to eternal life with our creator in Heaven.
There are great stories of loved ones who gave their lives to Jesus on their literal death beds. These loved ones are very much like the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember Him, and Jesus replied "Today you will be with me in Paradise". Luke 23:43 Both moved from near death to eternal life with a repentant heart receiving God's Amazing Grace.
Now, that's the kind of 'near death' experience I'm talkin' bout'.
I pray God's blessings on your lives today. I pray you all have the promise of Heaven in your future. All roads do not lead to Heaven, and being a pretty good guy or gal, and/or just believing in a higher power is not good enough.
Choose Jesus today if you have not already. We are all going to die (deep Back Pew insight, lol), know it matters eternally what we believe and where we place our faith. I place my faith in Jesus Christ, and I pray each of you do also.
If you have not, know.. If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9
Jeff (Not dead yet) Larson
Ever since the day the Apostle Paul found math problems scribbled on a bulletin in the first century Church in Corinth.. he knew DIVISION was going to be a problem.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Cor 1:10
Before Paul spoke these words, Jesus spoke to his disciples regarding DIVISION.. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. John 5:18
and John expands on Jesus words.. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. For everything in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17
Note: this kind of division could affect many a 'seeker friendly' modus operandi on church growth.
summary so far..
AND yet.. the 'church' struggles. Too many churches add to or redact from God's word to fit their delicate progressive sensibilities.. This is SIN.
There needs to be a line drawn in the sand where God's Truth is never compromised. And never allow the winds of this harried world blur over or completely cover this line. All secular world views need to be pruned (subtraction) to allow a true Christian World View to thrive.
Then 'The Church' can operate as one body of many parts. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 .. all to the Glory of God.
And do not let the world push we (The True Church) into a corner far away as not to offend non-Christians.. and be silent unless spoken to. We are called to be a city on a hill, a light to be seen, not a passive weak collection of church goers.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
TO OBEY THE WORLD rather than God is while only at best muttering in a corner.. IS SIN.
Then I turn on the TV. It's a brand New Year of hope and promise as we leave 2020 behind.. except we have dragged in the same sin filled attitudes and divisions. Last year's hate filled riots burning our cities last summer to a recent days of unrest and vandalism in DC on January 6, 2021.
While the January day of protests in DC pale compared to 4 months of race riots & violent protests may seem to be an improvement.. truth is our country is deeply DIVIDED.
Finally, with all this conversation about DIVISION remember God is also the God who multiplies, and when needed makes Something out of Nothing.
Now that's the kind of math, the kind of God I am talking about.
So I pray today for us all to experience and realize God's blessings that are multiplied on your life.
1. Do not be divided from other believers.
2. If we are faithful to God their will be division and strive with this prideful and sinful world, and finally..
3. Understand our willingness + my limitations + GOD = A life saved, blessed, with unlimited possibilities BY THE VERY HAND OF GOD!
Jeff (not ready for Calculus) Larson
If we took a poll on our favorite books of the Bible, you may hear the Gospel of John, Psalms, Proverbs, James, Philippians, but I am quite sure Leviticus is NOT in the top 10, or 50, or maybe 65 books of the Bible. But this year, I have discovered Leviticus Rocks.
No I am not talking about an archeological dig dated back to the time of Leviticus.. I am talking about recent important lessons God's Spirit has taught me while reading the book of Leviticus.
Leviticus.. All those seemingly archaic lists of dos and don'ts regarding the bugs, rats, owls, or lizards you cannot eat do NOT make Leviticus a page turner unless you are in a through the Bible reading plan and by turning pages to get on to the next book of the Bible. Unfortunately the next book is the book of Numbers which starts out with a Census taken on the twelve tribes of Israel. "ROLL CALL, everybody get in line and count off by one. Zzzzzzz...."
This year is I believe my 5th year on reading through my Bible in one year, and second year in a row. Last year I did it chronologically, this year I return to a mix of Old and New Testament each day. For me, reading through my Bible provides me context that I otherwise may miss. I do also enjoy other studies, books by popular Christian authors past and present, BUT I find God speaks to me best when it is just me and His word.
And this year I am loving Leviticus. Livin' la-vida-Leviticus!
Leviticus deals with the significant for the nation of Israel in the years right after being miraculously freed (including the parting of the Red Sea) from slavery in Egypt. These Levitical laws included the details of animal sacrifices to the Lord, strict requirements for priests, punishments by stoning, and much more. All these and more are difficult to fathom while living in our modern world of 'cheap grace' that follows celebrity preachers with a what happens in 'America' stays in 'America' attitude.
But this year reading Leviticus God spoke to me regarding his Holiness, and the importance of these animal sacrifices done in great detail was a true reverence to God. Ok, today in our land of PETA, animal sacrifices are not easy to grasp, but Levitical sacrifices were written for a world much different than ours, BUT..
the same reverence for God and doing what is pleasing in the Eyes of the Lord is still relevant. But for today, Jesus took the place of these sin offerings.
Even the scriptures on stoning in certain situations I understand now making sense. In one case a man blasphemed God, and was to be put to death by stoning. Today, that line for stoning those who blaspheme God would be very long and run waaay around the corner. And I agree on face value STONING seems very harsh.
But think of it.. In a time shortly after this man was miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt by the very hand of God now decides to blaspheme Him. I don't pretend to know the mind of God, but this man would be in my eyes the poster child for mocking God. and GOD IS NOT MOCKED. Leviticus 24:10-23, Galatians 6:7
I think without the stoning part our society angers our loving God with our cavalier smug attitude judgments of God himself. We don't just have questions about God, we judge Him. We lower in our eyes the creator of this world who exists outside time in space to our blip in time existence. Think of it, the very creator of this universe being deemed wrong by our 'pea brained' insights on justice. We judge God as not loving even though mankind's free will is the root cause of all pain and death. WHAT ARROGANCE.
Then laws about qualifications for being a High Priest. .. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. Leviticus 21:18-20
Ok, as a cartoonist I of course find humor in this, BUT.. in truth the importance of the High Priest being set apart and special speaks to today's cavalier by comparison selection of preachers (men of God).
This world of is a glut of celebrity preachers, hot preachers, easy grace preachers, new age / progressive preachers making these Levitical laws on High Priests wise by comparison to our low standards for today's 'supposed' men of God.
Ok, I am not sure how well this blog is received today. I don't believe I have convinced many to make Leviticus their favorite book of the Bible, but I pray what I have shared gives some much needed context for this often cringe-worthy book of Old Testament law.
There is a song by Mercy Me, Word of God Speak.. let me share the lyrics of this song below, and I pray these words give us perspective on the Power of God's Word and His Spirit in using these words to speak life into us.
"Word Of God Speak"
I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say
Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak
I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice
[REPEAT CHORUS 2x]
I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
Link to Play song-> Word of God Speak
My prayer today is for each of us this year to put in our most high regard, God's Word. I pray we are quiet enough to hear God speak to us by His Spirit these words of Life.. even in Leviticus
Word of God Speak!
Jeff (Levitical low priest) Larson
There you have it.. My Back Pew list of Ponderings. One part resolutions, one part repentance, and all parts pondering this world, the church, and each one of us.
I pray sincerely we are not conformed to this world as prayerful, obedient children of God FIRST and foremost. Let's be known for being kind and understanding of others in and outside the church and not for snarky Facebook posts (guilty). I pray we are unwavering from His Truth (our Bibles), and obedient to share God's Truth in a world that will call us judgmental hypocrites. Never apologize for sharing God's Truth because these words (even when hated) are real love.
Blessings as you ponder
Jeff (the wandering ponderer) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson