As the final week of Jesus continues, we find Jesus frustrated with more than just a case of the Mondays. This special Monday he enters the temple where it was reduced from being God's House of Worship to a first century Holy Land Mini Mall.
Of course in my Back Pew way of looking at things I have imagined and illustrated a few of these temple violators. There were The Temple ..
After turning over a few tables Jesus left the temple not in the mood for encountering a 'fig-free-fig-tree' which he promptly cursed. This was a lesson NOT LOST on his disciples.
It is not fair to assume the mind of Christ, but from my human perspective I imagine Jesus did feel the emotions that went along with his triumphant entry that first Palm Sunday as well as the frustration of this broken world where on Monday the Temple was shameful, and the fig tree bore no fruit. Simple emotions for someone like me but deeper and more complex for our Savior as his foretold arrest and crucifixion were only days away.
While my cartoons are a smirky look at very real biblical events my prayer is we remember the Holy Week. Remember and honor the amazing truth of salvation realized between that first Palm Sunday and that first Easter morning.
That First Palm Sunday
Of course today the grand-marshal of any parade would be seen riding in maybe a CORVETTE CONVERTIBLE or some other equally impressive car. But 2000 years ago the sweet ride of choice for any proper triumphant entry fit for a king was a.. DONKEY. Go figure!
So Jesus sends of a couple disciples to request the right ride with the words... "The Master has need of it."
And so the triumphant entry begins, the crowds cheer as Jesus rides down the streets on this 'choice' donkey. Even some OUT STATE tourists could be heard declaring Jesus king in their own special way.
As this is beginning of Holy week it is sobering to note the horrifically sad irony of the crowds this first Palm Sunday shouting HOSANNA, then five short days later crowds would be crying CRUCIFY HIM! Within 5 days we witness the celebratory high of the first Palm Sunday all the way to the great low of the crucifixion which all was part of God's plan.
But while the crowd this first Palm Sunday was celebrating Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem there were a few what I would describe as Palm Sunday Pouters.
These were the religious leaders of the day who were mostly indignant of these crowds honoring Jesus while a few others were mostly jealous of Jesus sweet ride.
Also caught up in the celebratory crowd was the donkey Jesus rode who foolishly thought the crowds were cheering him! BUT just a couple days later this same donkey was over his embarrassment and back at his stable could be found bragging and signing autographs with the other barnyard folk.
And let me not forget to tell you about the donkey who turned down the chance to be that Palm Sunday donkey because it the time coincided with his Sunday afternoon nap. He later lamented in high drama ‘On the Stable Front’ a life wasted as a bum when he could have A CONTENDER!
I pray God finds you blessed this Palm Sunday and that we all slow down to appreciate the significance of this entire Holy Week. From this triumphant entry, through the pain and sadness of Jesus crucified, and ultimately resurrected that first Easter morning.
Remember if you don't shout Hosanna, the Rocks may just do it for you.
Dinner at Simon's
Just 1 week before the crucifixion of Jesus the gospels tell us about 'Dinner at Simon's.
This sounds a bit like a Neil Simon comedy, but it was not, and so I do need to clarify, This happening event was former leper Simon throwing a dinner party with former dead person Lazarus in attendance. Of course while not being an expert at throwing or attending parties.. former lepers and dead folk are not what you would find at let's say a Hollywood A list party after the Academy Awards. Then again this former leper and dead person were now more alive than most anything found in the spirit ual death valley of Hollywood.
But 2000 years ago both Simon and Lazarus are lookin’ good for a couple guys who had either 1 or both feet in the grave. Never the less I would have been very careful about the finger foods being served by a former leper. I think you get my point and DO NOT need this cartoonist to draw you a picture.
Then what became an awkward dinner party moment was Mary performing the extravagant act of love by washing Jesus feet with her hair, her tears, and expensive perfume.
Of course Judas is aghast as he missing the point of this extravagant act of love and worship of Jesus as he instead puts a dollar value on wasting expensive perfume on dusty feet.
I love the timing of this party and this extravagant gift of perfume just one week before Jesus is crucified as it is a day of preparation of the final week of Jesus.
My prayer is that in a similar way we prepare our hearts and minds for the Holy Week. I pray we take note of the words and actions of the key players as we reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In all things, to God be the glory.
Thank you Jesus for this extravagant gift of love!
Post Modern Protestants
I guess by strict definitions I am a protestant, but technically more of a protestant MUTT with a dash of Catholicism. Actually I would like to be simply defined as a CHRISTIAN thank you very much as I don't fit nicely into any denominational box.
Don't get me wrong I am not judging anyone else choice of 'box' though I am a little concerned if you are into SNAKE HANDLING.. but I digress BIG TIME.
No matter your flavor of faith as long as you 1. Love God, and 2. Care for Others while using your Bible as your guide I think God will be pretty pretty pleased.
The next challenge is living our faith out in our POST MODERN SOCIETY.
We have the internet which is an incredible resource for light (faith, family, friends, news, etc) and dark (anger, porn, etc ) with the evolving social media explosion becoming the rage. We text, we blog (sounds like a horror movie.. the attack of the 50' blog), we facebook, and we tweet.
When we are not on the computer we are on our cellphones, smartphones, Ipads n Tablets or we are surfing HD TV with a bazillion (I counted) channels to choose from. We get our meals and our high buck coffees and lattes through a drive through window. So why not do this with our faith? We can, and we do.
I can watch most any sermon from my mega-pastor and many every day joe pastor of choice from the convenience of my office chair while donning gym shorts and a tank top and bed hair... all while the coffee pot and a kitchen full of my foods is 20' from where I sit. ISN'T LIFE GRAND?
Ok, this is NOT a call for the huddled church masses to quit attending a good local church I am JUST SAYIN' this post modern protestant life I live is not all bad.
I tweet with other believers and ministries, I facebook with friends and family and people I have not seen in years. I do enjoy my drive thru latte a couple times a week. I have this website/blog to share my faith and cartoons.
My prayer is to not go kicking and screaming into this post modern faith world, but to embrace it and use it for the glory of God, for personal growth, and to encourage others...
Loving God and Caring for others in this Post Modern World. Who knew could coexist.
The call to FULL TIME MINISTRY
Abraham at age 75 was called by God to postpone his retirement and START A NATION. These stories from Genesis regarding Abraham and his faithfulness speak volumes to me.
Today, when I think of Full Time Ministry I think of a missionary or preacher, BUT this narrow definition of ministry lets the rest of us non-preacher folk off the hook.
If ministry was reserved only for preachers and missionaries I would be left to center my life on ME. More hours for reality TV, and all the delivery pizza I could stomach.
Full Time Ministry is .. what we are all called to. Full time ministry is being faithful in the moments that make up the day without ever preaching a sermon from a pulpit or going overseas on a mission field.
I look around my community, city and country I see the obvious need for God is greater than can be handled by fulltime preachers and missionaries. Teachers, carpenters, business men, factory workers, and every other nook and cranny of society needs the compassionate hands and feet of Christ demonstrated by every day folk.
There is even a place for those chosen few who like to draw cartoons... like me.
So in summary.. Many are called to be a pastors, or serve on a mission field in another land BUT .. ALL are called to preach sermons with the words and deeds in the moments and contacts that make up our day.
Abraham was faithful to God's road trip call on his life and became the father of a nation. But while Abe was a great man of faith he had a few less than stellar moments. Most notably..
The question now is .. Will we be faithful to God's call on each of our imperfect lives?
If.. we are found to be intentional and FAITHFUL in our service God will bless and use each of us in FULL TIME MINISTRY in big and small ways as He chooses.
Love God, Care for others.. the rest is trivia in comparison.
Blessings, Jeff (in the Back Pew) Larson
final note: Being faithful is the right thing to do always, BUT realize.. there may be PAIN.
The Luck of the Irish
Saint Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated each year on March 17th, the death date of the most commonly recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.
The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and is a celebration of the Irish heritage and culture. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals and wearing green attire and shamrocks.
The Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day which has encouraged and propogated the holiday's tradition of alcohol consumption. <pause> like man needs another excuse to drink beer... even green beer
Thank you God for St. Patrick and his mission to Ireland. May God bless the Irish and all the people who pretend to be Irish each year in March. May it be a great day of celebration of heritage and culture, and may the consumption of all be done with reasonable moderation.
Please enjoy my modest collection of St Patrick's Day cartoons.
You are not GETTING OLDER..
I like all those clever quotes regarding aging. Here are a few I gleaned from the web.
Or.. another way of looking at aging in the saying...You are as young as you feel. Well then I am 57 going on 100! I am age 57 years old, and while being in my MIDDLE AGES (if i live to 114) my aches and pains grow as does the number of prescriptions I take.
But.. when I pause to pray, and count my blessings.. proper perspective begins to return and my relative wisdom is stirred.
I am blessed with..
I am old.. compared to my 4 year old grandson, young compared to my 86 year old mom, and just a babe compared to Methuselah.
I may not be wise like.. King Solomon who wrote the bible books Proverbs and Ecclesiastes that focus on wisdom and provide perspective for everyone.. BUT I did stop with having ONE wife while 'wise' King Solomon collected wives (700 wives, 300 concubines) like some people collect stamps.
Like I stated earlier, aging and wisdom are relative commodities. We all have a limited 'shelf life' on Earth and our aging process ultimately an expiration date (just glad it is not stamped on my forehead like a bottle of milk). BUT then Eternity in Heaven for those who believe.
This life is a DROP IN THE BUCKET of eternity... so I pray we all pursue health, wisdom, and we love God and care for others in words and deed. This is truly the only wise way to live.. while we are ALL getting older.
Shortcuts can get you lost..
We once took a shortcut across a mountain in Colorado.. This was back before the days of GPS, and while vacationing in Colorado along with my wife and kids my wife pulled out the good ol' paper map and found a 'shortcut' that would cut off miles on our quest to reach the Royal Gorge.
Well, we ended up Royal Lost driving where a minivan passed sherpas, mountain goats, and the body of George Mallory until we back tracked to civilization.
So I believe our 'shortcut' took us an extra 1 1/2 half hours to reach the 'Royal Hole in the Ground'. So lesson learned is beware of things called 'short cuts' when driving to the Royal Gorge or if choosing to use CliffsNotes for Intimacy with God.
I am learning again the problem of FITTING GOD IN rather than making time with Him a priority. This scheduled time does not discount the importance of communing with him through out the day but by making time for prayer and devotions in the morning as a discipline I believe shows Him respect and a time that God honors.
God did not honor Cain's shortcut sacrifice back in Genesis when he showed up with a lovely garden salad and neither does He want us to take shortcuts in honoring God with our time, and our worship.
My point is making time with God a priority is God honoring.
I don't have the magic formula for intimacy with God, but my prayer is that we all take time to make time with God in prayers and devotions. It does not have to be in the morning or any specific length of time. It does not have to be a bible study but it needs to be in my mind a time of reading, reflection and prayer. How else could we dream of tapping into any glimpse of the Almighty God without quiet moments alone pursuing him.
I believe God will honor and grow these efforts and make our relationship with the creator of this world more personal and pleasing.
Truth be told I continue to be a work in progress regarding this important discipline in my life. BUT.. I KNOW the difference it makes in my day when I take the time to be with God EVEN WHEN life is crazy busy.
Blessings, Jeff (Back Pew) Larson
Faithful in the moments
I was praying 'anxiously' the other day. Of course praying anxiously is an oxymoron bigger than a skinny baptist preacher.. BUT God reminded me I am called to be FAITHFUL in the MOMENTS that make up my day. I am not called to be FAITHFUL in a MOMENT in my day.
I guess this is obvious to everyone else, BUT for me it was an epiphany.. and my calling.
I should not longer worry about being known as A Farside 'like' Cartoonist/Preacher.. but instead focus on being Faithful in Word and Deed when ..
These are just a few moments gleaned from a day in the life of.. Jeff.. but are just a few moments.. May the Lord find me and all His peoplefaithful in words and deeds and attitudes for every nook and cranny of my day.
Jeff (moment by moment in the Back Pew) Larson
I like those Info-mercials with high energy sales person pitches the latest and greatest product to
These are all possibly issues you are aware of, but to limit ourselves to solutions found on infomercials (even though most only cost $9.99) would miss us out on the power of the creator of the universe.
Ok, you say you have never even had coffee with the pastor of the church you attend, then creator of the universe would be outside your social network. Truth be told our God is a personal God and He still answers prayers. This is the same God who..
important ps - you ever notice those prescription med ads start out with happy music, and a testimonial on how the med changed their life. They smile, they hug and this takes 15 seconds. the rest of the 1 minute ad with the same happy music is a disclaimer of all the side affects. IF.. you experience lost vision, thoughts of suicide, loss of hearing, uncontrolled bleeding, rage, uncontrolled laughter, deepening depression, overly giddy, constipated, etc etc.. and maybe.. even DEATH you should seek out a doctor. Hmm.. Nice to know God does not have to post the same disclaimer when I am prescribed the 23rd Psalm.
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