The movie Field of DREAMS tells the story of an Iowa farmer hearing voices telling him “If you build it, they will come”. So he plows under his corn crop and build a baseball field where the ghosts of old pro players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, would play. Now of course, the neighbors and the town folk think he is nuts, and that he is risking his farm for the sake of old baseball players that no one can see but himself.
Sounds similar to the story of Noah? The Bible tells us that Noah was a righteous man, and faithful to God in a world of sin.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. Genesis 6:5-6
and so God tells Noah, If you build it, they will come. Genesis 6:13-21 (field of streams paraphrase) in this case IT is an Ark, and THEY is a literal ‘boat-load’ of animals.
If you think an Iowa farmer got funny looks plowing under his crop/livelihood, so that he could build a ballpark, that's nothing compared to Noah building a humungous boat in the middle of a desert.
It became Noah’s “Field of Streams”.
So Noah builds this ark out of GOPHER wood (I think this is a type of Cyprus tree). It is 450 feet, 75 feet wide, and 40 feet tall as designed by God. Please note the Ark Project was constructed by 600 yr. old Noah with the assistance of his 100 year old sons.
Of course this Desert Ark attracted some serious ridicule, or at the very least a few chuckles and smirks from the town folk.
Anyways, the ark is built, and then the collection and housing of the animal pairs begins.
Let me add a little perspective here..
Below I have illustrated other potential boarding issues.
GRAB YOUR UMBRELLA
Once the animals were all boarded, God seals the Ark and the skies opened up which not one local Weather channel predicted, and those left behind did perish. These flood waters go higher and higher until on I believe the 40th day the highest mountains are covered.
I know the question sometimes arises as to whether or not this was a local or world widen flood.
What I do know is it was a WHOLE LOT OF WATER.
LIFE AT SEA..
So now there is a time where God floats the boat. Loaded with animals of every kind I cannot imagine how this all worked out. I am challenged to get my one rescue dog out several times a day to ensure he does not have an accident on the carpet so 'say-no-more' bout' waste management on this sea sick petting zoo.
But on the bright side the excursions and amenities not found on any other Cruise line, and since they would be in the Ark for I believe 371 days, they might as well make the best of what Noah's Luxury Cruise had to offer..
ALL ASHORE THAT'S GOING ASHORE!
Finally the the waters subsided and the ark settled on one of the mountains of Ararat .
Once it became safe to leave the Ark, the animals were let go, must have been as interesting as the boarding), and shortly there after the first pooper scooper was invented.
In all seriousness now, this was the new beginning for mankind, and God signed with a RAINBOW His promise that he would never destroy the Earth by flood again.
Noah was a righteous man, and lived to be an incredible 950 years, just 19 years less than longevity king Methuselah.
ONE CRAZY BOAT RIDE..
To be honest the story of Noah, the Ark, the boarding of every animal two by two, all culminating with a Flood killing all life leaves me scratching my head. I believe, but can I tell you how it happened?.. NOPE.
One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 55:8,9 where God declares, “My ways are not your ways. Neither are my thoughts your thoughts. For as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways than your ways and my thoughts than yours.”
So again.. while I don’t understand – I still believe!
In summary, the story of Noah has today often is told as a children’s story. Christian Gift Shops have cute figurines of Noah, and his Ark all filled with smiling animals. Also, in my cartoon world the story of Noah's Ark is loaded with silly fodder. BUT the story of Noah has a sobering message balancing perfectly God’s providence for the faithful and obedient with harsh judgment of a wicked world.
The story of Noah and the Ark is our story
This is a world of great sin where the hearts of man (just like in Ge 6:5-6) appears to be on evil all the time. The Great News is those who love God receive His Amazing Love & Grace…
but again realize.. HOW WE CONDUCT OUR LIVES MATTERS ETERNALLY. if we choose self over God than our eternity is the same as those outside the Ark. We may not get all wet by a supernatural Great Flood, but we will be just as lost, just as judged, and just as damned.
May God bless each of you to be faithful and obedient to God while living in this self indulgent world.
Jeff (wearing waterwings) Larson
I found a web site which lists the oldest people living today. When I checked it I read of a lady who was 115, and another that was 125, and then some lady I think from Peru that was supposedly 140! There was a picture of this lady and, yes, she looked every bit of 140. Of course I am not sure how we can really know she is that old (count her wrinkles like the rings on a tree?), but there is no doubt she is very, very old.
So segue back to Genesis after Cain kills his brother Abel we move on to a ‘a whole-lotta-begetting’ going on. God’s command to “go forth and multiply” was one command mankind took to heart well beyond just knowing their times tables!
But old in Genesis is a relative thing. People in Genesis times lived to be sometimes 800 or 900 years old.
Adam lived to be 930 years old after God created him on the 6th day Genesis 5:5. His son Seth was 912 Genesis 5:8, Noah later on in Genesis we learn lived to be 950 years, and the long in the tooth award winner is .. Methuselah... the oldest man in the history of .. HISTORY. Methuselah was cut down in the prime of life at the age of 969 Genesis 5:25-27
I figure if I eat my veggies, drink milk, get 8 hours of sleep a night along with daily exercise and in only 906 more birthdays I will have Methuselah beat. That will be in the year.. 2928 when I am neighbors with George Jetson.
They say you are only as old as you feel and I find this to be very little encouragement some days when feeling 'Genesis5esque' old. Maybe not Methuselah old, but at least somewhere in the mid 500s. and to think they did not have Ibuprophen.
The other interesting pattern of this was how old people were still.. um.. still.. ‘begetting’. While one of today’s serious society concerns is teen pregnancies, this was not the problem with society recorded in Genesis.
In Genesis 5 it was not unusual for a couple to wait 70 to 500 years old before starting a family. I guess those 500 years were spent playing golf, world travel using up trips to Hawaii, paying off the mortgage(s), credit card debt, or crossing hot yoga off their bucket list.
Maybe women in Genesis 5 wanted a career as a shepherdess, garden mogul, or working as a Mary Kay Cosmetics specialist before settling down and having kids.
Note: This parenting trend even held true even after Noah came onto the scene.
At age 500 Noah had three sons, and when he was about 600 years old when the Lord told him to start his Desert Ark Marina, and from what I read his sons helped with this process.
Ok, so picture this - 600 year old Noah, and his three 100 year old sons building a very big (BBIIIGGG) boat. Five hundred years old!? That would be like Columbus still being around, and working with those old people I found on that web site to build an ark. Of course Columbus may understand boats, BUT.. HE’S VERY OLD AND VERY DEAD, and those people from the website are VERY OLD and will be dead soon enough.
I do believe these stories we read about in Genesis, but in our modern world I have trouble picturing this Old Testament culture. But then again, I suppose IF Noah reappeared in the desert near the city of Las Vegas (aka Sin City), he would most likely sigh and say, “I better get busy building another ark in the desert again because society is certainly going to Hell.” (insert pun here).
Let me close these early chapters of Genesis with a few more images with a Back Pew perspective.
So while it is hard for me to grasp the fact that I am 64.. a Methuselah like age (969) boggles the mind. But like so many things in the Bible, just because I don’t understand does not make it not true.
From Genesis through Revelation I find the evidence and promise of God’s love and grace.
From the Garden to the Flood to the Cross all the way through life today sitting in my Back Pew there is this promise and evidence of a loving God.
May God bless each of you today in ways that are beyond your dreams. I pray you place your faith and hopes in the one true God of our Bibles.
Jeff (Methuselah like aches & pains) Larson
So Adam and Eve leave Eden, and start a family with their two fine boys Cain & Abel. The Bible does not tell us too much about the boys lives, but that Cain liked veggies, whilst Abel tended animals. These both seemed like wonderful career choices as Silicon Valley technology opportunities were limited at this time.
All is fine and good livin' La-vi-la-Genesis until Cain and Able were to bring their gifts to the Lord. God accepted Abel’s gift, but rejected Cain’s. For this Back Pew cartoonist, this provided an interesting moment between these boys debating the health risks of too much red meat.
Admittedly Cain did overreact when his ‘garden salad gift’ was rejected by God by killing his brother. No more Red Bull energy drinks for Cain.
Next, God asks Cain "What happened to your brother?" Of course Cain replies with the now infamous line "Am I my brothers keeper?”
So there you have it. Adam, Eve, a Garden neglected, and two boys that fight. God's creation is certainly off to a fine start.
Sin and the fall of man was inevitable, and was the result of man's free will choice just as our sins are.. but moving from apple eating to murder was a big jump on the sin meter.
The consequences of sin for Adam & Eve was they were evicted from The Garden of Eden, and now for Cain became a homeless wanderer.
THE GREAT NEWS is that neither Adam's eating apples, Cain killing his brother, or any other creative sin devised in the heart of man is beyond the redemption found in GOD'S GRACE.
My prayer is we all learn from these Genesis lessons of free will rebellion gone horribly bad. Most of us I like to think will never commit murder, but our sins great and small are all selfish rebellions of emotions and ignorance fly in the face of God's will.
When this happens, Repent and accept God's free gift of grace. If we don't repent we will be like Cain.. a homeless wanderer of this Earth and missing the greater purpose and a greater connection with God intended for each of us.
Jeff (not a murderer, but still a sinner) Larson
note: Too many churches today do not teach our sins require repentance. The phrases "I was wrong", and "I am sorry" seemed to be skipped over and replaced with an 'easy grace' , and 'be a better you' message. God's Grace and love is truly AMAZING, but the need to get right with God via repentance cannot be overlooked.
Most every year around this time I like to share the story of the birth of our first born. The birth of each of our children have their own special story, but my son Curtis just had a birthday on February 13th so it is his turn to be remembered in this birth blog.
Thirty six years ago my wife and I were anxious parents-2-be expecting our first. We had already made a few typical false alarm trips to the hospital (aka Braxton Hicks practice contractions), but on February 13th, 1986..
it was the real deal and life would NEVER be the same.
READY SET GO.. At 12:30 a.m. on February 13th 1986 my wife and I had just headed off to bed for a long winter’s nap. About midnight I arrived home from working the evening shift at my job and was off to bed with my fully 9 months pregnant wife Mary.
Before I could even fade into sleep Mary exclaims “My water broke, or I just peed the bed.” So off to the races we headed for the birth of our child #1.
BUT FIRST.. We had to stop was for gas as I had not planned on this midnight run to the hospital all while Mary’s contractions were kicking in to gear.
NOTE TO SELF: Keep gas tank full when babies are near due date.
So we arrive at the hospital ( I ran a few red lights just for added high drama) and the nurses get us settled into our room and notify our doctor. Mary is then hooked up all sorts of monitors including this cool baby monitor that measures the strength of her contractions. COOL.. something for me to watch over the next hours as it is 1986 living in a land before smartphones.
OVER THE NEXT HOURS.. The contractions come and go.. the doctor visits and early on is able to give Mary the drugs of choice to calm the pains. I remember after several of the contractions where Mary seemed to be hurting especially bad I said to her.. “That one was not really that bad it was only a 4 on the monitor.” Shortly later I found out the monitor strap had come loose and was not measuring accurately.
NOTE TO SELF: Do not think 'out-loud'.
OUR BIRTHING CLASS IN ACTION: Mary and I attended birthing classes, so I knew to hold her hand and to coach her breathing. Problem was Mary preferred to hold the nurses hands because they were cooler to the touch, and at one point during my breathing she said.. “Quit breathing in my face!”
NOTE TO SELF: Quit breathing??
THING ARE GETTING INTENSE: Around 8 a.m. the pains are strong, but the process seems to have stalled a bit. So while Mary is in her ‘painful’ holding pattern, the morning breakfast cart rolls around at 7:00 a.m.. They peek in and ask sheepishly.. “Breakfast anyone?”
There is a momentary silence.. then I finally say.. “Yes, I think I could eat something.”
NOTE TO SELF: Next time shout, "Can’t you see my wife is in labor?!" and then meet cart in hallway for a secret snack under the guise of chewing them out.
So the birthing process progresses as I eat breakfast and between bites of eggs and sausage I call to my lovely wife words of encouragement with my mouth full.. “push”.. and “remember your breathing.”
FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN: Finally around 10:00 a.m. a child is born and they shall call his name .. Curtis Walter Larson. He is healthy, a bit cone headed but a keeper.
After the usual initial checks and I get to cut the cord from 'Mothership Mary' we head back to our private room where the three of us mom, dad, and new baby Curt.. all lying in the same bed.
And around 12:30 early that afternoon, baby Curt is asleep, I am asleep (and snoring) while Mary lies wide awake with the adrenaline rush of her life.
NOTE TO SELF: I don't know what Mary thinks BUT.. this giving birth thingy is exhausting!
So there you have it, BIRTH FROM ONE MAN’S PERSPECTIVE. Now 36 years later we have a son Curtis Walter Larson who is all grown up, married and with 2 kids of his own. "It is.. as the 'prophet Mufasa' was known to say.. "the circle of life."
NOTE TO SELF: God is good, Mary is wonderful, and Curtis is a son we are very proud of.
Jeff (birthing expert) Larson
After God created the world He placed Adam and Eve in the beautiful Garden of Eden (aka paradise), and in the center of this garden was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil Ge 2:17 which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of its fruit.
Next, Genesis 2:19-20 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
So Adam did his best Dr. Doolittle imitation and talked to the animals naming them one by one. What a daunting task. But realizing 'in the beginning' the streaming library on Netflix was limited, there was no Sunday football, AND.. this task from God was assigned before Eve arrived with her unending 'Honey Do Lists' leaving plenty of time to name a 'couple' animals.
THE GREAT SNAKE INFESTATION of 6000? Genesis 3:1-7 Ok, there was just one Snake, aka Satan but he tempts Eve into eating the forbidden fruit (Ge 2:17) and sharing it with Adam.
So they both eat the apple, and suddenly feel a draft like never before cuz they were big time naked!
Naked and Uncomfortable like a Discovery Channel docu-series, and more uncomfortable than a hippy in 1967 holding his a DRAFT notice from Uncle Sam!
For the hippy, he burned his draft card and headed to Oh Can-a-daaa Eh!, to hide from Uncle Sam while 6000 years before this Adam & Eve naked in a draft and so head off to hide from God.
In the Garden there was no Old Navy, Walmart, or even Good Will to pick a wardrobe from so Adam & Eve being naked went for next ‘obvious??’ line of clothing.. FIG LEAVES?
Ge 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
But.. this 'Fig Leaf' line of fashion was short lived due to Leaf blight, squirrels, and the fact that Fig Leaves were not at all flattering. No woman in 6000 bc when asked how she looks, wants to hear the words.. "You look like a SHRUB".
And now seeing the bigger picture outside of the world of fashion, Adam & Eve realized life would never be the same. Sin caused a host of irrational emotions in Eve like .. "Adam, am I am the only woman in your life?"
Ge 3:8-9 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Naked and Afraid Adam & Eve were playing 'Hide & Seek' with God. This is where the age old 'Blame Game' was first used. First Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and the snake did not have a leg (literally) to stand on! and God was not amused. Ge 3:12-13
Their crime was dubbed the ORIGINAL SIN resulting in the Snake being cursed, while Adam and Eve EVICTED from the Garden all while you could hear Willie Nelson playing 'On the Road Again' in the background. Ge 3:24
In the weeks to follow a forensic investigation corroborated the entire Genesis 3 account.
Note: Since this 'original sin' our own flawed nature continues to compromise the paradise God intends for us. Maybe not a Garden of Eden paradise but certainly we live in a world stunted by sin. Adam & Eve chose to disobey God, ate the forbidden fruit and then hid from God. While we may not live anything close to Paradise, the 'sin parallel' is the same.. our willful choice that separate us from God, and we hide!
GOOD NEWS IS.. God's Grace is as they say AMAZING. He will accept us back after any big or small prodigal moments when we truly repent. BUT please note.. God will not be mocked.. an insincere whoopsie attitude towards our sin habits move us further away from the safety and blessings found in God's Grace. No one wants to be EVICTED by God.
My prayer is we all pursue God with a greater love evidenced by our obedience. He desires the very best for us, and to realize His Word is a light to guide us in this dark world.
Jeff (sometimes weedy garden) Larson
Our Church History is blessed by great men & women who served and many martyred for the sake of the Cross
In contrast today I see too many 'churches / ministries' led by folk standing behind .. POULTRY PULPITS
Chicken Preachers reading redacted version of God's Word to appease the masses, and
Turkey Preachers subverting God's Truth for fame and fortune. Let me expand below.
Chicken Preachers share often inspiring messages but are short of sharing the Gospel message. Chicken Clergy share 'how to have a better life now' while treating Jesus like our personal life coach rather than our savior. Chicken Preachers believe words like sin, repentance, and salvation are divisive, outdated 'churchy words. Chicken Preachers are more afraid offending society than offending God. They lack conviction and/or understanding on Biblical teachings regarding race, gender, and sex but instead blend with this world's BLM, CRT, and LGBTQ+ agendas like clergy chameleon.
and they ignore Jesus teachings like..
-"Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! Lk 12:51".
-"and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Mt 25:32", and
-"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Mt 7:13-14".
This kind of talk would have a certain negative affect on attendance and giving.
Turkey Preachers are fame, glory, and money based 'ministries'. For Turkey Preachers it is less of a calling from God, and more of a career choice based on Enneagram personality test with Benny Hinn financial aspirations. Turkeys Preachers desire to be followed by thousands instead of leading thousands to follow Jesus. Turkey Preachers focus on personal wealth over helping those in need, and spreading the Gospel. Their motto.. The Turkey Preacher who dies with the most toys wins?
Easy Turkey examples are Big $$ Faith Healers, Prosperity Gospel / Name it Claim it folk, self proclaimed Prophets, & red neck adrenaline junkie Snake Handlers.
I want to be clear now, I am not calling megachurches or mega-ministries POULTRY PULPIT PREACHERS'. God bless all (big and small) who focus on the word of God rather than personal anecdotes and jokes. God bless all who serve those in need with or without abundance. God bless all who share the full Gospel Message that we are sinners and all need a savior.
Finally, I pray I am not a chicken or turkey with my faith. Do I live my life with love for God and others? Am I faithful to God's Word in a world that mocks His truths? Am I willing to stand strong in this secular world or do I blend in? Dare to be a Daniel.
That's it. I pray God finds all of you good folk to be bold, faithful, loving for Jesus and involved in a church with a preacher behind a feather free pulpit.
Jeff (cooped up in the Back Pew) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson