In the year 2020 the Coronavirus pandemic kidnapped the world holding EVERYONE hostage with no tangible ransom demands except to social distance, wear a mask (or three), and obey all other 'Big Brother' government lockdowns in true George Orwell 1984 fashion.
I really do take COVID-19 serious, but there are so many contradictory 'expert' opinions funneled through a media monster hopped up on Red Bull with an agenda. The popular statement 'I believe science' begs the question..
'Ok, but which science?' But that is a ramble for another day.
Now in 2021 we still have COVID-19, plus riots disguised as peaceful protests, and the cries of of all things racist have become the 2021 version of the CRT boy who cries wolf (in this case racism).
Trending in 2021 are Socialist, Marxist, BLM, Antifa, SJW, CRT, and LGBTQ agendas, all the while the deconstructing of Christianity is finding it's way deep into the traditional Christian church. This all leaves a normally sane guy like me to ask "Why God.. "WHY?"
Our society is like a roller coaster going too fast, with faulty safety harnesses careening along tracks last serviced in 1984. This will not end well. We are all destined to leave the tracks in front of the camera ready news shows of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and FOX salivating in anticipation watching society crash into a twisted heap of metal and cotton candy (from one kid riding in the front car).
Who was to blame? Was it society, the church.. maybe Donald Trump? Why God why?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do bad men prosper?
Why is there so much pain & suffering?
Would a good God (if he even exists) allow and/or cause this rollercoaster train wreck?
So we ask "Why God.. Why?"
AND THEN... the Lord answered me from the whirlwind ..
“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?.. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. .. What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone.. “Who kept the sea inside its boundaries.. But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! (God then rolled His eyes at me from the whirlwind) “Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? ..
Oh, God went on to say a lot more to me... but you get the point.
WHO AM I.. to tell the creator of all things what is fair and unfair, and more importantly who is to blame?
Ok, I tried to pull a fast one on all of you but God's response was actually from the book of Job chapter 38 where God answers Job (not Jeff) in a whirlwind.
For the first 37 chapters Job who was a righteous and wealthy man (Job 1) who then death of loved ones, his wealth stolen, and even his physical health was taken from him to the point that his body was covered from head to toe with sores.
Then starting in chapter 38, God speaks to Job from the whirlwind where God shares perspective to Job or anyone (even a Jeff) about questioning God.
As the book of Job ends, Job is restored with wealth, health and family beyond all that he had lost. Read the whole book of Job to better understand our place when life becomes a world of hurt.
Ok, I accept God the creator of this world can do whatever he pleases. But still Why God, why? Still why do you allow bad people to thrive, and the good to be mistreated? Why do the innocent suffer?
The Answer.. Because man from the very beginning when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden continues to mess up aka sin.
In fact just 6 chapters into the book of Genesis we read.. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5
and so God destroyed the Earth with a flood.
But most of us may semi-rightly say.. "I may not be perfect, but my heart is not wicked, and my every intention is not on evil continually." Hey, I am not HITLER.
but King Solomon writes.. Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. Eccelsiastes 7:20
And.. Paul writes.. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
So.. while I may not be evil, this world filled with a SINS great and small in fact man's every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually... and VOID OF GOD.
AND.. Mankind has been blessed by God with FREE WILL lest we be His slaves or robots void of a relationship with God. There is happiness when our free will chooses God, but through history man has abused this free will and corrupted the good God intends for each of us. The result is a world of hatred, stress, envy, illness, and death. Our fallen world of pain & suffering is our own fault, and not God's.
But on this roller coaster of life sailing off the tracks, I thank God for his perfect grace and forgiveness for this soul. So now I truly wonder Why God, why.. do you still love me?
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love, Here's my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above. -- excerpt from the great hymn Come thou Fount of Every Blessing.
My prayer today is for God's people to live in obedience and praise to our God. May we fear and honor Him with our words, and actions as an outpouring of our love for Him. May this love and service extend out to a world that needs hope.
Jeff (no more why questions for today) Larson
30 years!? It seems like almost yesterday.
A whole lotta life can be lived in 30 years. 30 years is a ride filled with precious moments and a few potholes. This describes my last 30 years, and I would never trade them.
It was just over 30 years ago my lovely daughter Erin entered planet Earth via spaceship mom. Ok, bad analogy.. my wife Mary was pregnant but not as big as a spaceship. BUT I DIGRESS.. after a high risk pregnancy including 5 1/2 months on bed rest Erin entered this world in a rush about 10 weeks early and weighing in at a lean mean 3 lbs. 13 oz.
As you can imagine Mary being on bed rest for 5 1/2 months, with 2 preschoolers running around the house while I was working fulltime was stressful and exhausting. But we were so blessed with good family, a church, and friends that were truly PRICELESS in getting us to the finish line.
D-DAY ( or B-DAY) February 5, 1991: So just after just getting home around 9pm from the hospital visiting Mary with our two boys, I put the boys to bed and the phone rings. It is the hospital informing me I better get back right away if I want to see the birth of my daughter. I did, so I did.
So I get the boys up, rush them over to Mary’s sister’s house (she lived 2 blocks from the hospital) and arrive in time to be with my wife. Since Mary’s due date is not for another 10 weeks the doctor expounds great words of wisdom for the day.. “Don’t push too hard or you might shoot your baby across the room.” Ya gotta like a doctor with a sense of humor.
So unto us an 'Erin' is born, around 11:30 pm with no complications except that she is only 3 lbs 13 oz. After an initial exam she is given her first ambulance ride to the Children’s Hospital NICU in St Paul where they specialize in care of preme-babies. WHEW! Glad they did, cuz I did not.
After a short time a Children's Hospital Erin came home to be with her brothers, and our family never looked back.
We have so many memories of Erin as a little girl, then off to school, and even those dreaded teen years.. that make us both smile and cringe.
There is no manual that prepare this dad for teenage girls.. THEY SCARE ME!
Now fast forward 30 YEARS from 1991 and our little girl all grown up and just now today April 11th, 2021 at 3:30 a.m. delivered her first child Ira Tyron McDonough. Grandma Mary and I are beside ourselves excited. And irony of ironies due to a little junk in baby Ira's lungs he was moved to the same NICU as Erin was 30 years ago. Baby and mom are fine, but I am glad both are blessed with the great care of doctors that are in charge.
So those are my 30 years, these are Erin's 30 years and we both are ready for the next 30 filled with more precious memories along with the accompanied potholes that are all so very priceless and a gift from God.
Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus.
Jeff (proud grandpa and daddy) Larson
Ok, I confess to start a blog with the title REPENT is a good way to lose followers and a call to REPENT coming from a cartoonist carries less weight than your garden variety tele-evangelist.
And if I say.. "Repent Sinner." I sound like the evangelical version of a dog owner with a rolled up newspaper (in his case a Bible) ready to slap his dog (a lost soul) across the nose for a piddle accident, or WORSE! (ie sin).
Unfortunately today the cry to REPENT is caricatured as a double dose of judgment by the churchy self-righteous. BUT I have instead been impressed with the Gospel truth that REPENTANCE is the first step in the healing/restoration process.
Most times there can be varying levels of shame from my life's faux pas (aka sins), but the Bible teaches us we cannot experience the restoration found in God's Amazing Grace without saying that most difficult and humbly word.. SORRY (aka repentance) and mean it.
Clear as mud?.. Then let stir the mud..
A MARRIED MAN'S Repentance..
When I fight (I know I am the only one lol) with my wife. Even if I believe she is wrong/unfair/unreasonable/irrational/emotional, but respond with a few choice 'terse' words.. in this I know I am wrong.
And.. Even if 'by chance' I am right in the argument (aka fight), my words and tone are still WRONG, and I should not delay in apologizing. Ok, and while I am at it be sincere.
And, there were times I was wrong standing on the right side of a spat. Like the time I bought a new computer (cuz boys like toys) without asking Mary's permission or discussing our budget. I had my justifications, but was kind of hoping I would not have to go there and Mary would maybe not notice. Well she did notice and I stood there with that 'kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar' look.
As it ended up it was a perfect time to say I was sorry (repent) hoping Mary forgives me and let's me keep my new computer. :) She did, with a roll of her eyes while shaking her head as she told me.. "Just tell me next time, I am not that scary."
Now this marriage repentance scenario holds true in almost all aspect in life. In the workplace, in rush hour traffic, raising kids, even in church. In most cases a few well placed I'm sorrys could go a long way.
Then we come to our relationship with Almighty God. When we take time to understand God is both our all powerful creator and perfect Heavenly Father.. it should bring us to a place of adoration, worship, and obedience. By reading His word I realize how far short I fall in being obedient. So I feel regrets and shame but know.. if we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all our unrighteous acts 1 John 1:9
Like the prodigal son coming home we too are met by the Father (cuz He loves us so much) who is running to meet us on the road home from our prodigal ways. Luke 15:11–32
God is not like that dog owner ready with a wrapped up newspaper poised to whomp us when we piddle (figuratively speaking of course). He loves us.
So did I help improve your impression on that Old Time Religion call to REPENT? I pray so, and I pray each of you experience God's Amazing Grace and restoration found when we humble ourselves and REPENT.
REPENTANCE it does a body (and soul) good.
Jeff (semi-retired & fully repentant) Larson
Life is good, and I am blessed. I serve a great God, my wife loves me, and I am content.. most of the time.
But then.. like that (loved but not liked) relative showing up unannounced with his unruly kids to visit for the evening OR LONGER.. arrives Mr. B.A. (Bad Attitude). Recently it appear Mr. B.A. stops over with his buddy Mr. B.B. (bad back) when I prefer to be left alone.
An everyday example of a visit from Mr. B.A. is arriving at home at the end of the day greeted by our dog Cooper (a rescue dog with issues) barking at me. While Mr. B.A. has not entered my house at this point I cringe to my barking dog and see Mr. B.A. easily as I look out my front window. He is sitting in his car on the curb, he notices me, and smiles giving me a thumbs up. Arghh.
I am tired after a long day and all I want to do is relax for a few moments, so I turn on the TV and flip it to the evening news.
Top stories are the border crisis, race riots, LGBTQ is adding another letter, and in North Korea that rogue 'nut job' hopped up on Red Bull is testing Nukes again.
Meanwhile Congress is playing partisan politics russian roulette with the American public, and.. there is a 'weather' alert of a pending 'snowflake' blizzard/protest in Berkeley where frightened college students burn flags, tipping monuments, and blocking streets as part of a SJW class project?
And OBTW.. everything bad listed above I have learned is still the fault of .. DONALD TRUMP. I thought he was no longer president. GO FIGURE!
So I turn off the news and notice Mr. Bad Attitude is now out of his car walking towards my house grinning big, and pointing to my door to let him in. I cringe but for the moment I look away.
Next is dinner, And dinner is always good as my wife Mary takes good care of me. Following dinner we most always watch Wheel of Fortune. Dinner and now Wheel watching is our 1 hour reprieve from this big ol' B.A. world.
For a brief moment I pretend Mr. B.A. is gone. I imagine he is not just outside my house.
but he is.
THEN.. 'Wheel' is over and so from 7pm CST to bedtime there is rarely anything good to watch on TV but I want to be sure so I waste the next 30 minutes channel surfing and coming up with zip!
AFTER.. the channel surfing I browse the web, or then on to Social Media for the whole 'poke the bear' experience.
Social Media is a digital glut of cat videos, political judgments, and 'Christian' cries of heresy among the bretheren. This angst found in the world via Social Media is sensed by Mr. B.A. and so he makes his move.
Now it is 7:45pm, and Mr. B.A. responding to the vibe of pointless channel surfing, and web browsing let's himself in and sits in MY chair. From his newly claimed throne he is munching Flaming Hot Cheetos leaving cheeto-orange greasy finger marks on my chair, TV remote, and my computer laptop. B.A. does acknowledges me with a glance and a nod before taking control of the TV remote with his left hand a computer mouse with his right. It is Clickity, clickity, click as Cheeto dust fills the air.
I am tired, irritated, my dog growls at me because I spoke to my wife without asking his permission and Mr. B.A. is now in full control of all things electronic for the evening, and in his glory!
So I mumble/moan about another evening lost with Mr. B.A., while I sulk (loudly). Yes I sulk 'loudly'.
It is not a pretty sight... Sulking loudly is much like when men cry. It is an ugly display of emotions and not an endearing as observed by my wife Mary.
Then, there is a LIGHT BULB MOMENT.. Ya know, it does not have to be this way. There could be more to my life than you-tube videos, and Twitter suspensions. Imagine a life bigger than Big-Bang reruns or a Hollywood blockbuster/flopbuster.
Even as I type these words a Spirit inside me speaks in a still small voice.. "Well, duh." note: I am not saying this voice was the Holy Spirit as I pretty sure He does not say "Well, duh" unless these are His words after passing through my Jeff filter.
So maybe I quiet myself. Yes, I remember being quiet for an evening back in 2017.. and I liked it.
Well about 'doing quiet' again tonight? I could turn off the TV, read a book, or listen to good music.. maybe even Worship Music. Yes, I do remember I liked that. This could work!
And maybe I calm myself to PRAY.. not asking God for stuff like a child at Christmas, or to help me not be bored, but pray to know God better, to thank Him, and to pray for others.
So while I ponder being quiet I notice Mr. B.A. seems distracted, and looking uneasy. He looks at me as if to say, "hey you need to focus, the night is young, let's binge Netflix!"
But I continue to ignore B.A. and quiet myself, I pray and let my mind be amazed by our God the Creator of all things and our perfect Heavenly Father.
At this point Mr. B.A. gets up. The TV is off, the computer is in sleep mode and he is feeling ignored. His Flaming Hot Cheetos are gone except for the crumbs his beard and speckled down his Back in Black AC-DC t-shirt.
Mr. B.A. looking dejected leaves my home while muttering maybe I will see you tomorrow. I smile, but honestly I am not sure tomorrow is going to work for me. I remember that time in 2017 when I was quiet just like today and I liked it.
AND.. my wife likes me better this way as my loud sulking is not one of my endearing qualities. So it's a win win situation.
I would like to say Mr. Bad Attitude will not come to visit again, but I know better. Also my TV and computer are not bad they just symbolize the distractions and wasted times that keep me from God's peace.
May God bless those moments of quiet and purpose found in His word, prayer that are rarely found in front of a HD big screen TV.
May He bless each of you with joy and purpose found in a life long pursuit of Him in the quiet.
May your attitudes be good, your hearts always thankful, and no loud-sulking please.
Jeff ( attitude adjusted ) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson