To sum up 2021 (IMO) our tumultuous society seems to disagree (often passionately) on most everything from politics, gender identity, LGBTQ, race issues, diets, and sports. At the core of much of this turmoil is a spiritual angst of global proportions.
BUT even if IF if we could agree there is a spiritual component, society does not agree on what we mean by spiritual. Islam, Christianity, New Age, or seek deeper meaning as a Buddhist, or a Hindu?
AND even as Christians I need to ask what 'faith flavor' are you? Could be Catholic, Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Prosperity Gospel believer, the ever popular 'non-denominational', OR maybe your faith is motivated by a Progressive / SJW focus.
AND let's not forget that fella who likes to handle snakes. Yikes!
So this is what I believe which is important to ME. What do you believe? What is God teaching you about truth? Does what I believe and/or what you believe fall in line with God's Truth?
and.. I believe it is important for everyone to pursue their own serious 'NICE TRY' understanding and appreciation of God. This is not an issue anyone should put on the back burner of life.
We owe God at the very least to make a NICE TRY... and for eternity's sake we owe ourselves.
May God bless each of you today with peace, and the Holy Spirit's leading us to truth and answers for all of life's questions, and to a place where we feel God's love and peace like never before.
We should not expect to get it all right, but there still is no greater pursuit for mankind than to know Him.
My heart says of you, “Seek His face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Jeff (Trying to be Nice) Larson
While I do have plenty of other opinions on topics ranging from politics to food (including my dislike for peas)... I think I better stop for today.
May God bless and use you all in ways that are beyond your dreams and with opinions grounded in God's unchanging Word.
Jeff (all out of opinions) Larson
Of course we all know the Ten Commandments Moses brought down from the mountain.
These Commandments if obeyed would solve most if not ALL of societies Ills.
Paraphrased loosely 1. worship only God, 2. no idols, 3. don't take God's name in vain, 4. honor the Lord's day, 5.respect mom & dad, and.. 6-10. don't kill, commit adultery, steal, curse, tell lies, or covet.
These 10 Commandments are simple but profound directions from God to honor our creator and play well with others. Why would anyone disagree the 10 Commandments?.. unless of course you are the ACLU.
Now while I would never command anyone except my dog (though he does not always listen) I have opinions on everything and so I would like to add a few suggestions.
These suggestions are not delivered on stone tablets, but instead on this one digital blog via the web.. cuz stone tablets would cost too much in shipping charges.
But I digress..
BEHOLD... The Five Suggestions -
There you have it.. Five Suggestions that while they pale in comparison to the Ten Commandments you must admit.. but hey I'm Jeff not Moses so it's the best I can do.
May God bless your day with God's Truth, and obedience of His loving commandments.. and while you may not listen to my 5 suggestions.. at least you guys listen to your wife when she says you are not going out in public looking like that.
Jeff (out of suggestions) Larson
In 1971 John Lennon wrote the song "Imagine" encouraging us to imagine a world at peace without borders, religion, nationality, or attachment to material possessions.
This song 'Imagine' is a great message for our world that choosing anarchy over order, insults over compliments, greed over generosity, crass over clever, profane over profound, hatred over love, war over peace, and violence over peace.
I love this, but would happy just to imagine a world without rush hour traffic and road construction.
John Lennon Imagine shares a 'nice' broad brush imagination of a 'world living as one' , BUT I must add the Gospel message (not religion) is the ONLY answer/salvation for this tumultuous world.
DROP THE MIC!
Next let's fast forward 30 years from John Lennon's 1971 song Imagine to 2001 when Bart Millard of the Christian Music band MercyMe released the song "I can only Imagine". This MercyMe song ponders some day Heaven and to be standing before our Heavenly Father.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” 1 Cor 2:9
Now with this all in mind, let me share the side by side lyrics of 'Imagine' and 'I Can Only Imagine'. I will call this.. 'The Dueling Imaginations'
For those of you who kept reading this blog until the end, I pray you enjoyed and blessed by doing a little Imagining where peace on Earth and the promise of Heaven is found in Christ alone.
Jeff (Imagining cartoons) Larson
Our Father who is in Heaven, GREAT is your name.. Your kingdom come, YOUR WILL be done ON EARTH as it is in Heaven.
As many of you know this is the start of the Lord's Prayer (Mt 6:9-13), and is what is not a part of this prayer to gloss over.
Your Will on Earth? So how is that working out?
With all the tension among believers I am looking for an MMA pay-per view event featuring Catholics v Protestants to determine once and for all.. who really is saved? It can't be the both.. can it? I mean, one of the two must be on the fast track to HELL.
Or will there be a Pro(testant)-Wrestling match with a high flying Beth Moore coming off the top rope attempting to way-lay John MacCarther.
But while I DO LIKE BUNNY TRAILS.. let us now return to the LORD'S PRAYER. God your will be done on Earth.. starting with .. Jeff.
Through my life (I am 63 now) I have prayed "Lord show me your will for my life." many times. At times regarding big decisions and that is a good always to seek the Lord and His will, but I have come to realize this prayer "what is your will for my life?" can become me-centric.
Prayers focusing on the right job, house, finding Mrs. Right/Larson, or even a car purchase wanting God's can become my own little Prosperity Gospel prayer rather than 'thy will' pointing to God's kingdom (souls saved, and a society honoring Him)..
Looking back I wish I could have heard an audible voice from Heaven telling me if I was close. :)
God could be heard from the Heavens with the words.. "Warmer, warmer.. hmmm.. colder, colder.. now you are FREEZING. And so I guess living in Minnesota and being COLDER is about what I deserve.
Truth is (insert light bulb moment for me here) The prayer "Lord what is your will for my life?" should be more specifically.. "Lord how can I serve you today, show me what I can do for your kingdom." "How can I be that part in the Lord's Prayer helping God's Will be Done?
What would that look like if God's will was being done by those of us in the church? What if we were faithful in the moments that make up our days? What if we truly worshipped God in words and deeds with our eyes first on God then on the needs of others? What would that look like.
Even my little Back Pew Ministry. I am blessed to be used by God in a way that He uniquely wired me. but even in my world of cartoons I can take my eyes off of humbly being used by God in this small way to praying for God to bless The Back Pew into being.. The FarSide, or Calvin & Hobbes of Christian cartoons, complete with a modest (OR.. substantial) income. "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"
In recent years I have become more intentional in pursuit of God. While I am and always will be a work in progress and not resulted in an exorcism of my old self, it has become both a convicting and inspiring journey where today my prayer is .. "Lord what is your will for my life going forward? How can I serve you? Lord help me NOT to bury my talents in the sand, but instead do my part so YOUR will is done on Earth as it is in Heaven. AMEN."
I write this hoping it does not take any of you 63 years to figure out God's will for you is to serve Him. But if it does, 63 is not too late. Love God, Serve God where your will is God's will.
May God bless you all in this journey of discovering who you are intended to be in God's Plan and for HIS Kingdom on Earth.
Jeff (slow learner) Larson -->
Never Never Hardly Everland (NNHELand) is a magical land where WE are all ok, and THEY are not.
In NNHELand we live by our three Statements of Denial.
1. At least I never ... (insert excuse here)
2. I am not as bad as... (so-in-so)
3. I’m sorry BUT... (insert here rationale making your apology unapologetic)
In NNHELand we can even reference our Bibles for a feel better about myself fix.
- Well at least I never tried to 'give away' my wife like Abraham.
- Well at least I never was 'saved by a prostitute'.
- At least I get along with my neighbors better than Samson did.
- Well, I know I married better than Ahab.. and married less than Solomon.
More 'I aint so bad after all' pick me ups can be found by attending church, and rubbing elbows with real life folk. The saints and the aints who again are.. ' abviously not as good as you'.
- I never have drooled into a dish at a church potluck. (I have seen this happen)
- I know the difference between figurative and literal unlike some.
- I do NOT think out loud.. most of the time
We all know Neverland is fictional and there is no Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, or Captain Hook, and also it is better to realize NNHELand is a land of make believe as in reality we are all sinners saved by Grace.
Truth be told the stories of flawed men and women of the Bible, in history, and today used by God who served God despite circumstances, limitations, and/or failings is inspirational.
Abraham the Liar - Becomes The father of a Nation
Moses the Murderer - Delivered Israel from Slavery
David the Shepherd Boy - Defeats the Giant, and becomes King
Noah the Boat Builder - saved mankind from the great flood
Peter and his sinking Faith - Was the Rock Jesus built his church on
Paul the persecutor of the Church - Becomes the first great missionary
No need to hide out in NNHELand as we are all sinners saved by God's Grace. Instead be faithful in the big and little ways in your life so God can bless and use you in ways that are beyond your dreams.
Jeff (Never Never Hardly Ever Sleeping in Church) Larson
Am I really good? Am I good enough for Heaven?
Hmmm.. well honestly I would say I am a pretty good guy. I did not keep a good tally of my bad behaviors versus good choices on my pocket abacus , but I still attest I am 'pretty good and not so bad'.
But no matter how good or bad I am, getting into Heaven is always about God's Grace and not about my relative goodness. His grace is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9
So in my case, being pretty good never felt so.. good.
So rest easy there is no entrance exam to get into Heaven. You will not need to know the names of at least 10 of the 12 disciples, or know the names of the sons of Nahor in Genesis 22.
hint: Their names rhyme with fuzz.
At the Pearly Gates you will not be greeted by a Gate Keeper suspecting you of smuggling in contraband (ie devils food cake?).
The only question asked in 'Pearly Gate Redneck speak' will be
"if yer kin.. yer in."
note: This email is not a battle cry for mediocrity, or to strive to only be 'good enough', but only to clarify our goodness is tentative when compared to our perfect creator.
Our best is simply not good enough
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God Romans 3:23
our righteousness are as filthy rags Isaiah 64:6
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
This was great news for any thief on a cross, cartoonist (me) sitting on his office chair, and for station you are in life. AND.. There is no better day than today to get right with God.
Jeff (not nearly Good Enough) Larson
The teachings especially in the New Testament are full of figures of speech that if taken literally would be reason for a great deal of angst in our lives. Here are just a few.
But thankfully these are much more than figures of speech for those who place their hope in God. These are words holding important life changing/saving truths.
Finally let me leave you with a phrase I don't think can be found in our Bibles. This phrase is maybe not a figure of speech, but words that also have a double meaning when they are wielded together.
When the dreaded 'Fine, Whatever' combination is muttered by a wife.. well it is anything but FINE, and WHATEVER is the last thing you should consider.
May God bless your day with clarity, with purpose, a strong understanding of God's word, and nary a FINE, WHATEVER mentioned to you husbands.
Neither rain, nor wind, nor gloom of..
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10 SAY NO MORE, SAY NO MORE
note: the LGBTQ item above is the only one I made up.
Simply put, any ills our ill society can throw at us... with God's Help .. will not make me flinch.
.. as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Blessings, Mister Jeff Larson
note cartoons below from a simpler day reminding me when a Potato could be Mister Potato, when one mask was one mask too many, and when I knew the secret to being content.
This title/claim is not part of a new FDA report but actually are the words offered to me by a pastor in response to a caffeine headache. This man of God told me his wife has a sign in the kitchen that reads, “Coffee is not a drug; it’s a vitamin!” .
So woe unto you that would argue with God's chosen one! A man of the cloth (with a little coffee stain down the front)! A shepherd to the flock, and possible coffee addict!
Besides the 'irrefutable' health benefit noted above I would like to share my rationale for the 'use' of coffee.
So in honor of these practical and one Godly endorsement I would like to thank God for COFFEE. The approved VITAMIN/ ENERGY ELIXER for a sleepy America!
May God bless each of your lives. May your coffee cups overflow (figure of speech), and your breakfast banquet table include a nice variety scones, bear claws, donuts, apple fritters, cheese danishes, and bismarks.
Amen and Amen!
Jeff (caffinated in the Back Pew) Larson
note: Tomorrow I will share my 'deep' theory that donuts are simply a post modern version of manna.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson