On October 31st (Halloween?) 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg Germany. Luther's 95 theses brought attention to corruption in the Catholic Church.
Luther appealed to the Pope to stop the practice of squeezing ‘indulgences’ from parishioners as ‘down payments’ on Heaven, and/or petition God to limit the time their dead loved ones spent in purgatory.
I know the Catholic Church still practices indulgences but I believe these gifts are seen as part of turning our attention from our sins and to The Church. I can't say I completely understand this, but that may be just my protestant upbringing.
Anyways Catholics and Protestants should all agree our salvation is found only in Jesus Christ as our savior, then loving God and serving others with our lives. The giving of money or anything resembling an indulgence should be an act of service to God not affecting our status in eternity.
Anyways, while we protestants sometimes are dismissive regarding the Catholic Church and their history with indulgences... but how does that 'speck' scripture go?
Be careful about pointing out the speck in someone else's eye when you have a beam in your own.
So 'INDULGE ME' as I share possible Protestant Church Indulgences?
It goes without saying God's house is special. We are to be reverent and generous in the space and resources we use for church. God does love a cheerful giver, but let's not lose sight of the Gospel Message compromised by the giving of protestant indulgences to men or buildings of men. Everything we have belongs to the Lord. Hebrews 10:2
Jesus said after clearing the Temple. “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of 'indulgences?'” Mt. 21:13 MSV (mega standard version)
ALSO.. beware our indirect indulgences outside of church where we justify indulging our wants that feed our social status and in the church. aka Indulgences of comfort and/or ego.
So I pray today for all believers that we return to a true pursuit of God not compromised by indulgences of self, churches and/or ministries. I believe this topic is an issue for us all to consider. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Mt 6:21
May God bless each of you and the churches you attend. No person or church is perfect, and when we stumble I pray we return our focus again to Him and His Gospel Message.
Jeff (getting off his soap box now) Larson
In this world of Essentials we have ..'Essential Oils' (5 quarts of motor oil?).. the 'Essential Van Morrison' album compilation, and during this last year while in Pandemic lockdown mode our government determined/MANDATED everything else that was 'essential'.
In a disturbing twist of irony our secular society determined essential businesses were liquor stores, and Planned Parenthood while church gatherings were too 'risky' aka non-essential. In some states you could buy 'weed' to smoke (essential) but could not buy 'weed killer' (non-essential) at the local garden center.
So I ponder what if Mother Theresa lived during this covid-19 'pandemic' in my home state of Minnesota? Would her orphanage and ministering to lepers be considered risky? And how about JESUS CHRIST.. Would Jesus wear a mask (WJWM)?
My sarcasm is obvious as I bristle not over the health risks of Covid but rather our Government's mandated overreach regarding the good, bad, & ugly list of essentials, non-essentials complete with social distancing guidelines.
During the pandemic I listened to a sermon snippet from a Pastor on Facebook. His message was "be prayerful & smart in our response to Coronavirus but remember our (the church) focus is on Revival not Survival."
Societies message is temporal and 'non-essential' . note: liquor stores and planned parenthood are so very not essential, but the
Gospel message is essential and filled with lasting hope for today and tomorrow.
So now after a year of the Gospel according to 'Zoom' I see church beginning to limp forward moving away from 'safety being our God' and our spiritual diet consisting of You-Tube sermons.
And while.. Zoom and streaming has it's place for most of us being together face to face in a full church worshiping God looking to God and not to be entertained is what church is called to be.
And worshipping with masks is a muted sad expression of what God intends and sounds more like a chorus of 'Charlie Brown's teachers' than a choir of angels.
So I choose not live in fear and believe the church is essential. I pray the world soon leaves their masks behind, and the 'next' COVID-19 like panic (I predict Climate Change) does does not become a social and political wedge dividing our society and the Essential CHURCH.
May God bless and use each of you in ways that are beyond your dreams.
May you feel His protection and love that transcends the fears of men, and their politics.
May our safety, life, revival and hope be found in His Words, His church, and not in a mask or overbearing 'big-brother' government mandate. AND..
May God's Essential Church have an uncompromised revival.
Jeff ( Essential Back Pew) Larson
As a guy.. I am a TV Commercial aficionado. While I respect my wife.. when it comes to TV Commercials hands-down I have a deeper appreciation for their .. art.
Case and point is a TV commercial by AT&T where a tattoo artist tells his client he is just an ok tattoo artist but not good one. Then the concerned client questions the tattoo artist not drawing the image before inking the real tattoo.. and this 'just ok' tattoo artist tells him "Stay in your lane bro."
Funny stuff, and it makes me smile every time it pops up on TV.
Message of this commercial? Don't settle for just ok.
But of course in my mind I see a spiritual correlation in this commercial.
When I talk (aka pray) to God, I am NOT talking with a just an OK deity. I am talking with the Creator of this World. Omniscient, Omnipresent, and our perfect loving Heavenly Father.
And when I vent (aka pray) to God my busy mind swimming in a big bowl of worry. I tell God "I don't know how this is going to all work out."
And this is when God whispers to me.. "Stay in your lane bro."
ok, I paraphrased.
Unlike a 'just ok' deity our God is sovereign. He has this bowl of worries of mine along with everyone else's favorite rage and/or anxiety recipe and though mankind has again made a mess of things.. God is not caught off guard. He is not surprised, and NEWS FLASH none of this is a ripple in God's great plan.
I do want to be clear there will always be consequences for anyone and/or nation who rejects God's will, and there is pain in being a part of this world compromised by sin, but there is peace in knowing God is sovereign.
Important NEWS FLASH.. It is also important to share this life, our moment in time is not about ME or YOU. This life is about being faithful to our God in word and deed. This our lane.
So I pray..
Heavenly Father bless and use us for your glory in ways that only can be described as beyond our dreams or understanding. This is God's lane
Jeff (drifting over the center line) Larson
It seems like a long month for me with much going on. So many distractions of significance that have deserved my attention and the attention of others I love. The birth of my brand new baby grandson Ira, and the passing of my brother in law Dan have both been impactful in polar opposite ways on my life.
With all this in mind I need to return my focus to a very important day for all of us... MOTHER'S DAY.
I was blessed with a loving mom who taught me well, and raised me to love Jesus. I married my beautiful wife Mary who raised our three kids (all grown up now) with love and faith which led to us now having 5 wonderful grandkids that make my life full.
So anyways, for all you good moms out there know you are loved and appreciated.
Next on to those years of schooling where you tag team raising your children with the educational institution of your choice. This is a 12+ year process getting them from grade K through High School (note: Beware the teen years!) and beyond as you still are mom preparing them for that big old scary world out there with the hopes of someday in the back of your mind they will married and have kids of their own.. aka your grandchildren.
This is when you stop to ponder I just spent my whole life waiting for .. grandchildren? REALLY?
Okay, I embellish of course as this is a beautiful journey filled with joy and yes some pain. It is not what you signed up for, but is more than you could ask for.
So no matter if you are a mom yet, or no matter where you are on this journey know being a mother is a true high honor, and a most significant role in this life. You are so appreciated, and loved.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson