As a self-described little black rain cloud.. I too often find myself lamenting circumstances, and choices on my life's journey. From this I was 'inspired' to write the 'Larson Lamentations'. The following is an excerpt from chapter 1.
The Larson Lamentations
1:1 Everything is stupid, everyone is dumb, please leave me alone, and.. my back hurts.
1:2 I'm bored, there is nothing on TV except that Washington DC reality TV show 'Keeping up with the Partisan Bureaucrats'
1:3 It's 9 a.m. I have been awake for three hours, when can I go back to bed?
1:4 (intentional pause).. yawn, scratch..
1:5 Did I mention my back hurts? WELL IT DOES.. it hurts a-lot!
My LL Motto: Serve no WHINE before it's time.
Ok, this is just the first 5 verses, but my 'little black rain cloud' persona is showing. What do you think? Yes far from scriptural but while this is an embellishment of a runaway bad attitude, there are threads of truth in how I often feel. This 'broken' world and my circumstances (deserved and undeserved) can leave me tired, discouraged, depressed, and feeling hopeless.
Then to the rescue this morning my wife and I read 'Jesus Calling' devotional from Susan Young. Here are few excerpts.
... Accept each day exactly as it comes to you. By that I mean not only the circumstances of your day but also the condition of your body. .... Some days the demands on you are greater than your strength. You have two choices on such days.. give up, or rely on Jesus. If you choose to give up.. I will not reject you. You can turn to me at any point and I will help you out of your mire of discouragement. I will infuse My strength into you moment by moment, giving you all that you need for this day. Trust me by relying on My empowering Presence.
Psalms 42:5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
I do struggle with the 'little black rain cloud' persona. I currently have LL pangs, but I choose not to be defeated. I pray for God's strength for all that I need, and to praise Him today for the blessings and pitfalls of this life. In all things.. To God be the glory.
May God bless, encourage, and provide for each of you today in a way that is inside and outside of your circumstances and in ways that are BEYOND YOUR DREAMS and your lamentations.
Jeff (not currently lamenting) Larson
A couple years ago my wife and I lived in a suburb of St Paul MN. Nice neighborhood, easy access to highways, shopping, dining, and.. is unofficially the bunny capital of the world. Bunnies were everywhere.
These friends of Bugs (bunny) crisscrossed our yard constantly. We don't have a garden so they are harmless and cute.. I guess... but what goes on in their little minds as they scamper from here to there and back again. All this is done of course as they travel their literal bunny trails. Then I wonder.. are there 'BAD BUNNIES'.. you know, with tattoos hanging out the street corner smoking cigs and.. sorry, I guess my mind just went on its own bunny trail.
Ok, while I am obviously NOT a bunny, but I have traveled my share of bunny trails meanderings. I even have the 'gift' of veering off topic railroading a conversation deftly interjecting my thoughts that have wandered away from the original subject. How did I get here?.. and now how do I find my way back?.. I don't know, maybe I will ask a BUNNY. Even those involved in the conversation may with a bewildered look on their face respond with .. "whaaa.. and If no bunny can be found to help me I will segue back by saying "but I digress"
Of course for the most part the literal bunny trails in my yard and the nonsensical bunny trails in my head are harmless. They may be puzzling, possibly frustrating, but seriously no harm no foul. But what about the more serious bunny trails we take? In a world that needs Jesus we are busy with bunny trails... even Pokemon Go trails.. really?
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Js 1:27
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”Mt 22:37-40 .
There you have it.. all that is important shared economically in just 5 verses, BUT..
All of the above can be definite bunny trails that have nothing to do with Js 1:27 and/or Mt 22:37-40.
I have returned to the habit of reading 'My Utmost for His Highest' devotional by Oswald Chambers. His daily readings are amazing bits of truth that return focus to what is important. Oswald's message is that life begins and ends with a devotion to God. What we say and do matters, and stay off the bunny trails that keep us from this truth.
My prayer is daily to live a life that loves God in words and deeds. Then Js 1:27 and Mt 22:36-40 are will become my passion, and the rest of life will be bunny trails by comparison.
May God bless your life's journey with focus and purpose, and may He provide hope and direction for those of us when we find ourselves off on a bunny trail.
I have shared this tale before, but just like any Clint Eastwood Western ie. The Good the Bad and the Ugly, or The Unforgiven.. this story of Justice with 6 shooters blazing begs to be retold.
A while back I watched a TV docudrama on the history of the American West. It was a time when Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, and Jesse James with guns a blazing shared the headlines of lawman versus Lawbreaker.
This brought my mind back to over 50 years ago in the (MID)western frontier of Cable Wi (population 280-maybe) when I served as an 8 year old lawman working with my deputee and 6 year old friend David Larson. It was a time of lawlessness where big talk and big guns (cap & pop alike) were a way of life.
Bad blood had been brewing since Sunday School the previous Sunday when Dastardly Dick Ludzack and BadNews Bryan Anderson AGAIN refused to sing Jesus loves me (truth is neither could sing a tune to save their lives) and this type of brash defiance of our Lord would not be tolerated. So just a few days later September 14, 1965 (right after school) Deputy Dave and myself traveled to the Ludzack Farm on the east side of town to bring these brazen lawbreakers to justice. If justice came at the end of a rope or my smokin' guns.. So be it.
This day would soon after be known as The Shootout at Ludzack Farm. (kinda like an elementary school version of the Shootout at the OK Corral)
When we arrived at the Ludzack Farm we learned Dastardly and BadNews were camped out on the North side of the family barn, so we quickly set up just on the Southeast corner as news traveled they were heading south along the east side of this same barn. We were ready, but knew they would not surrender without a fight. Both sides had enough Guns & Ammo to make the NRA blush.
Tension was in the air as Dastardly & BadNews turned the southeast corner and were met with guns a blazin'. BLAM, BLAM, PEW, PEW, POP, BANG. This gunfight was was over before it started.
As the smoke from our cap guns lifted it was clear by their (imaginary/implied) bullet riddled bodies both Dastardly & Badnews had their come up ins. There would be no trial, there would be no chance for them boys to redeem themselves and sing like choir boys next Sunday morning cuz.. THEY WUZ DEAD.
Except.. out of the silence BadNews Bryan (always hated him) shout "Uh-uh" you missed me, and you are both DEAD cuz I shot you both in the HEAD."
It was such a grand lie. Such a big fib that 50 years later I am surprised Bryan thinks he has a chance at Heaven. This just ruined my day. I came to this town to bring law and order, and I am thwarted by a 7 year old and those weak words.. Uh-uh! I was so mad I went home and told my mom.
Thinking back to those lawless times in the fall of 1965 I am haunted by my failure to bring to justice that no good lyin' snake Bad News Bryan Anderson. Of course the story is not over as Bryan was the best man in my wedding in 1984 and we meet almost weekly for lunch.
You know what they say, keep you friends close, and your ENEMIES closer. Better sleep with one eye open BadNews.
Jeff (dreaming of exercising my second amendment rights since 1965) Larson
note: I forgot to include a spiritual lesson today, I will be sure and double down next time.
I like those Info-mercials with high energy sales person pitches the latest and greatest product to
Of course Buyer beware.. not saying the are lying but still.. buyer beware.
In contrast for the unbelievably low price of FREE we can speak to our Heavenly Father and never miss out on access to the power of the creator of the universe. and there is no buyer beware asterisk regarding God.
Ok, you say you have never even had coffee with the pastor at your church so you figure God would be outside your social network. Fair enough.
King David raises that question too .. 4 What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, Ps 8:4-6
Rightfully so, this does boggle the mind, but I believe the same God who hangs the stars in the sky has shown his care for mankind since the very beginning in Genesis. The same God who.. parted seas, crumbled walled cities, fed 5,000 with fish and chips leftovers, and slayed those unsightly giants still answers prayers for each of us in BIG and SMALL ways.
So my prayer now becomes.. THINK BIG. Don't put a lid on what is possible with God on our side.
Your UNSIGHTLY GIANT.. may be health issues, literal or figurative.. spiders? (my daughter HATES spiders), finances in crisis, a looming foreclosure, addictions that feel hopeless, a failed marriage, grades below C-level, or loneliness. No matter.. God still slays these unsightly Giants in our lives.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Mt 7:7-8
Jeff (Giant Slayer in training) Larson
"You always, and you never" has been the muttering mantra of exasperated parents since like.. FOREVER. Typically it goes something like this. "Billy, you ALWAYS leave your homework until the last minute!" or "Susie you NEVER get through dinner without fighting with your sister."
I must confess, my mom & dad never said to me, "Son, you ALWAYS do your chores without us even asking, and you NEVER complain about it."
But after High School, I moved out on my own and out of ear shot of my parent's 'you ALWAYS or YOU nevers'. I was now living in the land of grown ups, working a grown up job, and married a wonderful 'grown up' Christian woman. I made no time for any weak you ALWAYS or you NEVER accusations.. UNTIL my marriage introduced a new 'strain' in the form of the dreaded Honey-Do-List. And though my wife is very patient with me, it is fair to say Jeff ALWAYS need to be reminded to work on 'the list', and Jeff will NEVER finish it.
But to fair, a honey-do-list has no real end.
Then kids entered our lives and I discovered the Lion King 'circle of life' for Norwegians regarding those timeless you ALWAYS and you NEVER comments. I remember specifically my son Curtis ALWAYS having a reason/excuse for everything. I nicknamed Yanna Nobutt a fictitious Yugoslavian Tennis player because whenever his actions were in question he would reply "ya, I know, but.." then followed with his excuse de jure.
Truth is my kids were pretty good, and though there were plenty of times where they tried our patience and boundaries.. I did learn that You always and you never.. is not the right message.
In hindsight I also recognize the irony of me lecturing my kids about homework considering I was jjust a C+ B- student who ALWAYS missed too much school, and NEVER did his homework. Then to show God has a sense of humor.. I married a school teacher!
Now while this all makes good fodder for my smirking blog as I reminisce on my lifetime of you ALWAYS & you NEVER moments, the truth is.. it is simply not good practice. It implies a basic hopeless scenario, and no one wants to hear the you ALWAYS & you NEVER scolding.. this certainly is NOT the Gospel message of Grace.
So I pray each of you have a great day knowing God ALWAYS keeps his promises (Deuteronomy 7:9), and He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
AND.. no matter your big or small prodigal son/daughter moments, your failures, your down moments, your rebellions, your SINS. are ALWAYS forgiven as our Heavenly Father rejoices in our return and forgets he NEVER gives up on you. (read the Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32)
ps. While my Honey Do list is as endless as the universe itself, this morning I replaced a bad electrical outlet, hung a flag pole outside, put down a first coat of paint in our downstairs family room/office, and worked in the yard transplanting ferns and trimming branches. I am finishing this blog while my bride is away browsing neighborhood Garage Sales..Fortunately, she does not read my blogs so this will be our secret.
Location, location, location are the three rules of Real Estate. I have found this true in my own life as a homeowner, and all the way to eternity.
The other week our pastor was going through a study in Nehemiah about rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Not making a political statement about walls here, but my cartoonist brain pictured Nehemiah looking like a certain president who I won't name (but rhymes with BUMP) in building this wall and having Persia pay for it.
The rebuilding of this wall detailed in Nehemiah 3 included a number of gates. There was the Fish Gate, Old City Gate, Valley Gate, Fountain Gate, and <insert drum roll here>.. the DUNG Gate.
Now I can see building a home in a new development at 2003 Fountain Gate Circle, or living in a 2-story home at the end of a cul-de-sac at 156 Old City Gate Way, or a split level home on 1 acre of land at 927 Fish Gate Drive, maybe a fixer-upper at 633 Valley Gate Place, but a home address of 102 Dung Gate Rd? I guess that is where people lived before they could live on the 'wrong side of the tracks'.
Over my almost 62 years I have lived in a number of homes and locations, and my wife and I have now have settled into a town-home near our kids and grand-kids. I jokingly call it our final resting place.. meaning I DON'T WANT TO MOVE NO MORE!
I have never lived the so called 'good life' in a high status neighborhood, but God has been good and every house we have lived is blessed with good memories (and a few bad) of faith, family, and friends.
Of course some day we all have the promise of Heaven.
You could say Heaven is a (Pearly) gated community where all are invited, but.. only those who choose Jesus Christ may enter. He is the ONE WAY to Heaven, not one of many ways so it matters what we believe and where we place our faith.
My prayer today is that your location in life includes Jesus Christ. It matters not to God if the location of your physical home today is a mansion or you are literally on the wrong side of the tracks. Our true home and joy should not found in the approval of man, but the approval of your Heavenly Father.
May God bless and use you greatly today even if you live at 102 Dung Gate Rd.
Jeff (Down-sized) Larson
Breaking Bad was the hit TV show on AMC a few years back where unassuming high school chemistry teacher and family man Walter White evolves over 5 seasons into someone truly bad.
Maybe.. Not since God tossed Satan out of Heaven has there been a comparable BREAKING BAD moment.
Walter White's life was a slippery slope of compromise, and his white lies evolved into massive cover-ups. Walter White changes over these few years into a ruthless big time meth producer responsible for countless murders, and in the end, he dies alone, his family is destroyed, and the wake of his truly bad choices on those around him was far reaching for both innocent and guilty. Even those who survived DID NOT live happily ever after but were truly Badly Broken.
note: For those of you contemplating binge watching Breaking Bad on Netflix please disregard the previous paragraph. MY BAD
Ok, so far there are three obvious lessons learned
1. Don't cook Meth,
2. Don't Murder, and
3. Don't trust criminals to keep secrets.
But Breaking Bad is actually the story of mankind and from the very beginning it seems to be BAD is what we do. Since the very beginning our sins great and small, and our attempts to cover them up is the common plot line for lives we live.
EVEN OUR BIBLES are filled with Breaking Bad moments of literally biblical proportions.
Then let's fast forward to a few more contemporary Breaking Bad paths we travel today..
Comfort and Hope for your BB Moments..
But no matter your flavor of Breaking Bad there are so many great scripture truths of comfort and perspective.
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.
AND if/when we fall.. know the grace of our Heavenly Father is perfect. No matter how great or small your prodigal son or daughter moment.
May God bless each of you on your journey.
Running on Fumes is an expression used when driving a car when the needle is on empty but still running. We say it is 'running on fumes'.
So I created a cartoon (surprise) of where my GPS located my CAReer. The cartoon caption caption is below.
I find myself careening towards retirement in a Clown CAReer. I am running on fumes, with tires bulging, and tread worn. That new CAReer smell is replaced with spilled coffee, & fast food wrapper odors. My windshield is bi-focaled & smudged. I am leaking oil, ‘my’ exhaust is loud & smelly.. BUT.. next stop.. RETIREMENT!
These last few years I have been working a number of jobs that are less than satisfying. I show up everyday, work hard and thank God for employment. BUT.. I am currently in between assignments trying to peek over the hill towards the day I retire.
When I retire, I will not miss rush hour traffic, or office politics, but I don't plan on being lazy. I plan on enjoying myself. I won't be rich, I won't be driven, but I will be busy with some of my favorite things in..The Back Pew.Here I can continue to share Clean Humor & God's Truth through cartoons, and blogs.
I imagine days listening to worship music (and a little classic rock), studying scriptures, and more accessible to assisting with grandkids. It can be a better time to serve.
I feel kind of bad, but most of the 9-5 jobs in my life have not provided me much satisfaction, but I am thankful they helped pay the bills. My good friend Bryan Anderson has been a college professor at Bethel University since graduating from college and loves it. I am envious of that and happy for him and others like Bryan, but that has not been my story. But that'a neither here nor there.. now. I am almost 62, in good health, and look forward to waking up without an alarm clock, then drinking coffee at a leisurely pace,
I have a good life! Wonderful wife of almost 35 years. Our three grown up 'kids' and 4 grandkids all live close by. We attend a wonderful Bible preaching church Grace Church Roseville, where we have made good friends. And, we have a loving God with has plans for us.. even in retirement. Just hope it is like Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
and not what God said to Abram in Genesis 12:1-4.
The LORD had said to Abram, 'Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.' So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
This life is not over.. and my wife and I are blessed with faith, good health, family, friend, and church that make life full and satisfying.
We look forward to what God has instore for our lives. To God be the glory in all we do.
It could be years before I retire, but I know the day is coming, and it makes me smile like the kid in school counting down til the end of the school year.
May God bless each of your lives.no matterwhat stage of life you are in. Life is an amazing journey from youth through retirement. It is not always easy, but with God it is blessed.
Jeff (smelly fumes) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson