Supersized and drive through meals ... delivered freaky fast your way that are finger lickin' good. These are a few fast food 'conveniences' for our fast paced lives in the fast lane. I am guilty of participating in both ordering my share of supersized McArtery Clogger Value Meals, and using the drive through for lunch, lattes, and my banking needs. Life is busy and there is a time and a place for fast food, and fast service but there is a time and a place to SLOW DOWN.
Now as I segue 'deftly' to my faith journey.. I find awkward parallels to our fast food society.
1. I want the blessings on my life supersized now please,
2. I sometimes pray like I am using a drive thru window. I don't even slow down to say hello to God but place my order/prayer list with the angel stationed at my drive thru prayer window. And..
3. my patience for His answers rivals my belief that microwave popcorn still takes waaay too long.
Moral of this blurb is.. God does listen to and answer our freaky fast faith moments (sometimes that is all we have), BUT how much better my perspective is when ..
There will be those times where freaky fast faith is all we have time for, but let's purposefully slow down and make time with God that is more than a microwaved/reheated moment of spiritual nourishment.
Hmm.. I am getting hungry.
May God bless and use each of you for His glory in SUPERSIZED ways
Jeff (McBack Pew) Larson
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
With this great scripture in mind, I feel at times I have been serving 60 years to life in the Alcatraz of my Mind. Instead of holding every thought captive obedient to Christ I have held on to a few thoughts to mull over on my own.
and.. I believe I am not alone.
There are times my weary brain becomes lost in another anxious day on this broken spinning out of control world leaving me frazzled, weary, and downright .. pouty. and Just ask my wife Mary, .. pouty is NOT a good look for me.
So what do I do? I read aloud again 2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
'every thought captive' .. obedient to Christ. What a beautiful answer for any believer feeling anxious, jealous, fearful, angry, compromised, etc.. etc.
In Christ alone there is real peace, and freedom from those little unsightly Alcatraz Mind Moments.
May God bless each of you this day where God's perfect Truth & Love is the answer when your thoughts are have you locked in the cell next to mine on the Alcatraz of your Mind.
In 2007 (former VP of the USA) Al Gore won an Oscar for his Documentary on Global Warming entitled 'An Inconvenient Truth'. This blog is NOT about Big Al, his Oscar, or this documentary film.
But on an awkwardly ironically amusing side note there was a North Pole expedition in 2007 meant to bring attention to Global Warming but was called off after one of the explorers got frostbite. The explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen called off what was intended to be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment. -- read FROSTBITE.. but I digress.
But the real inconvenient truth America does not like to hear is.. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD!
Our Oprah Winfrey-esk society passionately believes in respecting all paths to all gods (note the small g) at the expense of compromising honor and worship due to the one TRUE God of our Bibles.
Society says each of our paths to 'truth' are equal. Hmmm, well 'your truth' may be your passion, hobby, your so called peaceful center, but the INCONVIENT TRUTH is there is only ONE TRUE GOD.
I like the analogy of the sincere mountain climber who summits Long's Peak in Colorado at 14,259′ believing he just climbed the world's tallest mountain, BUT.. in reality world's tallest mountain Everest 29,032′ is in Nepal. Well, sincerely believing in another god aka 'truth' will find you just as WRONG as this mountain climber in Colorado. In both cases YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE.
Some say "THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH CHRISTIANS!! They are so JUDGEMENTAL!" Well same logic would then damn first grade teachers for teaching 1+1=2 when you want 1+1 to = 37.
The above Mt. climbing, and simple math analogy, OR.. the fact I can no longer fit into the same pants I did 20 years ago all face an inconvenience.. TRUTH.
note: In my defense I believe they make pants with a 34 inch waist SMALLER now. Maybe it has to do with the metric system?
But back to important truths.. You don't have to be a GENIUS to realize Nature screams that there is a God who was the creator of this world.
CREATION was not happenstance, and our universe is NOT the random existence of matter and space…. Our creator is not Buddha, Zeus, or the Kemp’s Cow for you Hindus. It is not the Sister Sun, Mother Moon, or any New Age / Oprah Winfrey wild haired scheme found on a Hollywood Astrology HOTline.
The creator of this world and of all things is the God of our Bibles, and may the glory and honor be His and His alone. This is TRUTH no matter if it is convenient or not.
To believe anything else is a sad lie, and from the father of lies.
As believers let's celebrate and share this BEAUTIFUL TRUTH of our loving Heavenly Father to a world hell bent (literally) on being inclusive to every nook and cranny 'truth'. There are so many lost in their own secular humanistic LOGIC while attempting to fit the concept of a God in a nice little man sized box.
For those who do not believe, I pray you take time to ponder these Biblical Truths ..
May God bless all our lives with TRUTH.. purpose, and love for God and others.
May this be the source of happiness and contentment and purpose that gives your life meaning like never before.
LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS.. leave the rest as details... and by no means an INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Jeff (inconveniently truthful in the Back Pew) Larson
Where do you think you are going or 'yer goin' for us rednecks at heart? Honest question that can be asked of most of us. And many times the answer is.. "you can't get there from here."
This question holds true on many a road trip where I became lost, or took what I thought was short cut.
This is true for many a college graduate looking for a high paying job in Corporate America with a Masters degree in 'Cartoon Art History' with a minor in 'Bagpiping'. or that..
Mountain Climber aspiring to climb Mt. Everest, but unwilling to leave his home state of Nebraska. or..
taking a 'road trip' from California to Hawaii.
In all these cases and more.. the answer is .. you can't get there from here. While these may be absurd and hopefully amusing examples, there is a more alarming examples in today's culture.
I observe a trend in church becoming a Sunday Social Club where we go to be fed/entertained every week but never really seek God on a deeper level. We do not devote our lives to God except to be a pretty good person. Not exactly a high calling.
Will being a pretty good person get me to Heaven, or does God expect more of me? Where do I think I am going? Heaven? This is not a pointing my finger at anyone else before I point it at myself.
Is my life foremost about ME, or is it about my God? Honestly, what is my answer? Umm.. easier to talk about politics in church than my honest commitment to my creator.
The following are a few scripture passages, that are convicting and give clarity to this question? Where do I think I am going?
I Never Knew You
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Mt 7:21-23
What good is it to love those who love you?
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Lk 6:32-36
So based on the road I have chosen for my life.. am I going to Heaven or not? Am I a true follower of Christ or just another 'church goer'? How about you? It matters eternally what we believe so choose the God of our Bibles. There is no other God.
But many are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or simply believe in a 'higher power' and so we all believe basically the same thing, right?
I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, Is 45:5
So sincerely wrong is still wrong.
Now you may argue with me that I am wrong, but this is what I believe. So the answer for me to the statement we all believe in basically the same thing is.. If you want to get to Heaven.. You can't get there from here.
So take these words for what it is worth. I am sure I am preaching to the choir for the most part, but even us in the choir need to daily turn to God and consider seriously.. Do I serve Him first and foremost in our lives.. going beyond being a good (church goer) person?
And for those not in the choir, I respect where you are at, but prayerfully take to heart the issue of Eternity. It matters what you believe and where you place your faith. Placing your faith in Jesus, and pursuing God first in your life, then with regards to eternity, and Heaven.. You CAN get there from here.
May God bless and use us all with our lives for his glory. Amen.
Jeff (a little bit lost sometimes) Larson
important ETERNITY note: The alternative to not getting to Heaven from here.. is Hell. It is our choice alone. Heaven is the free gift from God to those who place their hope and lives in Him. Hell is the awful other choice we all are allowed to make.
There is no destination in between Heaven & Hell for being a pretty good person.
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” James 2:2-3
This is how James 2:2-3 looks for me in Minnesota->
Seriously, my wife and I attend a great church in Minnesota with no 'true' mistreatment of Packer fans. The worship music is worshipful, and the preaching is TRUTH straight from God's word in a manner that is both challenging and easy on the ears. It is a friendly congregation represented by a nice mix of demographics.
It is a GOOD CHURCH!
Next, let me share again I am 6+ years sober after it became apparent I was an alcoholic.
I was a MESS.
I was headed on the wrong road but I thank God for grace found with my family and especially my wife and HIS restoration of my life.
During my recovery time I attended a recovery program for a while and in contrast to my 'good church' where the worship, preaching, and presentation on Sunday's is clean and sharp.. this Celebrate Recovery program was messy.
These were people struggling. Some have been sober for 15+ years, others are celebrating not have a drink for 30 days, or less. Some are people who have been in and out of treatment, and/or suffering the consequences of their addictions by losing their drivers license, jobs, or family. Stories of jail-time, and restraining orders were common. Many were in the place where they were not drinking but now dealing with the void in their lives where once was a buzz. This group is a mess, but .. a Beautiful Mess
What makes this group such a beautiful mess is their journey led to finding God. Not just a 'higher power' but the only true power, the God of our Bibles. This is our only hope for the alcoholic and ALL of the rest of humanity (aka sinners). It's not just us alcoholics who are MESSY. Isaiah 64:6
To be very honest, I don't like a mess or messy people. I like happy Christians with no deep dark secrets and/or sins (at least not shared). I like a well orchestrated church service and an attractive congregation that looks like .. church people should look? I don't know if I want my church to be messy, even if is a beautiful mess.
But my Bible teaches me differently about the mess..
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners (THE MESSY) came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mt 9:10-13
If one part suffers (is messy), every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Cor 12:26). and again..
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby (messy) clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor (messy) man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” James 2:2-3
So I pray today to be a witness and friend to all I meet. To be welcoming and grace filled in my words and actions with others. And I pray I to be will willing and faithful in serving others even when it gets messy. I pray to embrace this beautiful mess knowing the mess I have been saved from. God is so good even when we are a full blown prodigal mess.
May God bless you, care for you today, and use you to serve Him in this very messy world. I pray for revival and restoration in our chaotic America. I pray His church is sensitive and caring for the beautiful mess inside and outside our church walls while standing firm in His Truth.
Jeff (still a little messy.. but sober) Larson
I confess I visit the local coffee shops now and then for a Latte, but if my dad were still alive he would NOT approve.
First of all, paying $5 for a large latte (steamed milk and espresso) would be simply WRONG WRONG WRONG!! Then to stand in line to order a coffee with a flavor.. is also WRONG.
According to my dad, coffee drinker wanna-bes may add sugar to their coffee but true coffee drinkers either drink it black or with the 'approved' dairy companion of the day.. half&half.
Also my dad would not purchase something called a scone. If you want something sweet you buy a package of sticky danish pastries from the IGA Grocery with a shelf life of 4 years. AND.. the only coffee drink resembling 'a Mocha' in my parents home was if my dad accidentally poured Folgers coffee into a cup of cocoa.
And beyond my dad, Coffee was the true cornerstone beverage for my family and church as I was growing up. My family did not drink alcohol, and so while you might think that makes them teetotaler but in reality they were coffeetotalers.
I remember fondly Pastor Wayne Larson (no relation) and his wife Ruth led the our church in Cable Wisconsin for about 7 years, and they had what I would call the ‘gift of coffee’. They would call up my folks and say "Put a pot of coffee on.. cuz we are coming over.”
So over my years growing up in rural Wisconsin I learned the significance of coffee for any healthy community. Below is a short list of Coffee Rules for Life.
Now fast forward 35+ years and you don’t have to drink your coffee black or with cream and/or sugar.. you can get you Latte Grande skinny ( half expresso, and half steamed skim milk).. You can order a Turtle Sundae Mocha.. or maybe a White Chocolate Raspberry Cooler.. the possibilities are endless..
BUT ..though I like my Latte I want I believe in the time honored tradition of CHURCH COFFEE.
Coffee is never confused with the Holy Sacraments… but I believe church coffee is to be revered and consumed.
It should be brewed in a traditional aluminum drum with TLC.. where coffee is symbolic of fellowship though often tastes often like something less.
With regards to this traditional aluminum drum brewing 'machine', cleaning this drum is of paramount importance. Coffee drum cleaning like changing the oil in your car is too often neglected resulting in a brew that only the hearty church goer can appreciate/tolerate.. chew.
THEN those times when the coffee has a taste like hot dishwater it may be because when the drum was finally cleaned… THE DISH RAG WAS LEFT IN THE DRUM!!..
Now that I think about it.. let me share my COFFEE CONSPIRACY THEORY. I wonder if coffee was introduced to churches as a way to keep the congregation awake during a dry sermon in a stuffy church.
And finally according to Newton's Law .. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction... and with coffee came the Coffee Conflicted Christian.
There, now try and keep those thoughts out of your mind the next time you pour yourself a cup of hot caffinated fellowship in your church foyer.
I will confess many churches today offer good coffee, but if my dad were still here.. he would prefer his cup to come from the traditional aluminum drum.
Then again.. he is in Heaven.. and I am sure they do COFFEE RIGHT (Folgers with half & half thank you very much)
Finally.. to round out today’s coffee toonage let me share a coffee paraphrase of Revelation 3:16 where the Lord is speaking about a church being lukewarm. Neither hot or cold.. and how distasteful LUKEWARM COFFEE is.
Have a great day.. full of God’s caffeinated blessings. Smile lots.. enjoy life .. and always..
BREW UNTO OTHERS as you would have them BREW UNTO YOU! Hebrews 3:16
Jeff (caffeinated) Larson
ps - below are a few moments from the Bible where I believe coffee was in order.
A strange title indeed based on one of my all time favorite commercials from back in 2013. It was a commercial for AT&T wireless where a man in a suit is sitting at a table asking a group of little kids what is better FASTER or SLOWER? They all agree faster is better.
One little girl explains faster is better or else you might be bitten by a werewolf and then you will say.. wawawawawawa.. which means I wish I was human again! The man in the suit stammers.. "what?"
note: If you don't remember this commercial, it is a must watch. click here-> wawawawawawa
I have similar state of mind with this world's challenges, distractions, and 'nonsense logic'. Our society claims gender is a social construct, men (called birthing persons) can have babies, and white baby boys are born racist.
To all this nonsense and more like the guy in the AT&T commercial I stammer .. "What?"
My other response to this world gone wrong is to become caught (being too slow) frustrated, discouraged, brooding with a dash of anger. It's enough to transform a likeable guy like me into that little girl in the AT&T commercial in exasperation moaning.. "wawawawawawa.. I wish I was CHRISTIAN again."
So where should we turn in this world gone mad? The answer is in God's Word.
Finally, brothers, 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. Phil 4:8
..but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Pe 3:15
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:11-12
These are just four (of countless) scriptures to help us not just endure this world wishing you were/felt Christian again, but become boldly effective for Jesus.
May God bless each of you as believers with a the peace that passes all understanding in a world that often rages outside of God's will.
Jeff ( feeling both human and Christian today ) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson