I Remember back as a kid in gym class and did not want to be that last kid chosen for a team? Well I don't like to brag (as I puff out my 63 year old chest past my gut that puffs out on it's own but I was not that kid.
I was a decent athlete even if the game was dodge-ball I was always a solid pick. Of course if there was a robotics team back then I may have been been that last pick, then placed on the 'my brain hurts' injury reserved list.
We can all breath a sigh of relief God does not operate that way. He seems to like the odd ducks, misfits, and unlikely picks to be on his team, even LEAD his team. Hmm.. I might even be chosen on God's robotics team.
So here is a partial list of those God chose for his team.
"if you build it they will come". These are the paraphrased words of God from the book of Genesis as 600 year old Noah is chosen to craft an Ark with his 100 year old sons. And.. not just any Ark, a 'Desert Ark'.
As a spry 75 year old, Abraham was instructed by God.. "pack up the Winnebago (figuratively speaking) and hit the road."
So much for the Golden Years. "I will make you a mighty nation." added the Lord.
A mighty nation?.. Abe and the Mrs. were past the age of having their own kids, so unless God is talking about some 'Mighty Nation' game for his smartphone then he did not know how this was going to happen.
Moses, prince of Egypt exiled for MURDER is working in a land far far away as an overqualified tender of sheep when God speaks to him from a burning bush.
"Moses .. you and I are going to free the children of Israel. Ok, mostly I will free them, but I will keep you busy."
I don't know about you, but I would not have chosen a guy on the run for murder who smells like sheep to lead the captive/slave people of Israel.
Speaking of sheep, God chose a shepherd boy named David to 1. slay a giant named Goliath, and 2. become the first great KING of Israel!
Then off to the NEW TESTAMENT.. where Jesus did not choose men right out of seminary' as his disciples. Their resumes referenced such talents as 'fishing' and 'collecting taxes but nary a youth pastor, or worship leader credential to be found. Not even experience as the side usher at the Temple. So without checking their LinkedIn profiles, Jesus simply said.. "Follow me."
And remember Jesus words to the thief on the cross.. "This very day you will be with me in paradise." shortly before he died.
noting the obvious: Being a thief is NOT who we 'good Christians' would choose. At the very least we might require a probationary period and yet Jesus did just that. He chose the thief, he chose a sinner.. for his team.
That is how big God's Grace is.
Next, God chooses the very first 'Missionary' to share the Gospel to the world!
"With the first pick, in the first round of the first ever Gospel Missionary Draft, I choose Saul of Tarsus" These are the paraphrased words of Jesus on as Saul travels the Road to Damascus. His actual words were "Saul why do you persecute me?" which included a blinding light.
WHAT? This same Saul was Pharisee of Pharisees, and recently spotted checking coats at the stoning of Stephen? Yep, that Saul.
.. Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest Acts 9:1
Serious Red Flag .. choosing a guy breathing threats and murder against the disciples is RISKY. But that's just me.
Now fast forward a couple thousand years and some change to year 2020..
I have not experienced a literal burning bush while walking my dog, or blinding light on my way to the Grocery store, but I still believe I am chosen and capable.
Not that it makes sense based on my relative and limited qualifications of cartooning (aka coloring between the lines), but in fact we are all chosen. Chosen not only for eternity in Heaven, but also to serve in big and small ways now.
So do not keep God in a box, or a lid on what is possible with regards to the blessings and opportunities to serve.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8
Just like Isaiah, be listening for God's leading in big and small ways, and when God calls on you.. reply "Here am I. pick me! pick me!"
May God bless and use you in ways that are BEYOND YOUR DREAMS and all that God intends.
Jeff (Chosen.. go figure) Larson
This is that time of year where I pull out all my cartoons to 'honor' the students, teachers, and parents uniting as one to make sure those little darlin's get a good education.
Of course in 2020 in America education is a muddle due to the response to Covid-19. Like most of you I have my opinions on 'To mask or not to mask'.. as that is the question. But no matter any of our opinions the school year 2020-2021 will be like no other. No matter if you homeschool, zoomschool, or do school in the classroom.. EDUCATION 20-21 must go on.
But for today, let's return to a day gone by (fall of 2019) where masks were for thieves, and social distancing was reserved for avoiding that Uncle at your family reunion who has BO. A day when Education was freely shared, and teachers ruled the land. Kinda like the Jurassic period ruled by the T-Rex.
School Days, School Days.. Dear old Golden Rule days
' Reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hick'ry stick'
So NOT politically correct! but.. I like it!
It is kind of odd to think this was a song to describe 'classroom management', but to me it is not nearly as strange as hickory sticks being replaced with blaming the teacher first and sending them to a workshops on what they did wrong. GO FIGURE.
The School Year begins traditionally the day after Labor day in America. Parents, students, and teachers like the migration of geese transition from vacations, picnics, and the beach to a world of chalk dust, text books, surprise quizzes, and report cards.
Actually chalk dust is becoming a part of old school urban legend. Before Covid we feared breathing in chalk dust. lol. Chalk boards are replaced with white boards, smart boards, and technology. The current techno-tools of choice include I-Pads, chromebooks, and smart phones. These are the tools (aka distractions) of today's student. They say.. You are only as smart as your smartphone?
A good smartphone is today's student's Swiss Army Knife even replacing the amazing Texas Instruments Scientific Calculator from back in my day. note: In our weapons sensitive schools can you can have even a figurative Swiss Army Knife?
The timeless excuse "My dog ate my homework" has been upgraded with.. "my wi-fi was down", "access denied to my cloud", or "a computer virus ate my homework". AND NOTE.. the time honored nuisance of passing notes between students has been replaced with texting, and/or latest (snapchat, instagram, tictok) social media craze .
So the above is what I would call the 'lay of the land'. Students k-12 and beyond meet teachers found in public, private, and home school environments. No matter if there is Covid-19 or not the education process continues. Ready.. Set.. LEARN!
God bless all of you gifted educators in the public and private school systems. And God bless you homeschoolers as you all are so important. While teaching the 3 Rs, never forget to teach the Christian world view. Always remember prayer for our students, the families, our nation, and all centered first around the worship of the God of our Bibles. Truth be told education can be as much of a ministry as an occupation.
SO I PRAY for all you dedicated educators that Jesus be first and foremost in your lives. May your faith and God's truth guide your words and deeds. Kindness, compassion, and loving discipline are the marks of a Godly educator. AND I PRAY for all you students for challenges that are ahead in 20-21.
MY PRAYER OF CONCERN is for our public schools and a direction away from our nation's Christian heritage. Public Schools in their determined quest to remain NEUTRAL in matters of faith have become NEUTERED in respect to civics, Christian values, and our Christian heritage. While there is no question we are all to respect this nation's many faiths it is a MISTAKE to become so SECULARIZED.
And while we are at it, I pledge allegiance to the flag and the United States of America. And to the Republic for which it stands, one nation UNDER GOD..This pledge needs to be in schools. Patriotism, civics, and honoring our country (flaws and all) needs to be an integral part of education. AND Christians should not be alarmed the pledge puts God and Country on the same plane. The pledge clearly states one nation UNDER GOD.
you know 'under' as in 'not above'.
OBTW, please don't kneel during the Star Spangled Banner. Save your kneeling for your prayer time.
IN SUMMARY .. Happy/blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord Psalms 33:12,.. and so it goes without saying happy/blessed is the SCHOOL whose God is the Lord and teaches a Christian World View. When our nation and/or schools compromise Psalms 33:12 this erodes what God intends for good for His people.
For a complete (exhaustive, or is it exhausting?) cartoon look at all things school from a Back Pew perspective, click here-> SCHOOL
Jeff (semi-educated/bus drivin') Larson
note: 20-21 will be year two of my job as a bus driver.The role of School Bus Driver has provided me a treasure trove of new cartoon ideas. Elementary kids especially are just too darn cute.
Labor Day to me marks the last day of summer as it falls nicely on the first Monday in September.
MY LABOR.. over the years has included such occupations as grounds keeper on a golf course, Logger, convenience store attendant, computer programmer, sports official, and school bus driver. Now in my 63rd year of wandering this Earth I am semi-retired while driving the above mentioned school bus. .. oh, and I draw a cartoon or two or three.
another kind of labor day ----->
So with Labor Day here I am reflecting on these sobering social & economic times where the response to Covid-19 has complicating the employment and budgets of many. With this and more muddling my life I am choosing to AGAIN claim the great scripture..
Trust in the Lord with all my heart, in all my ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
TRUST is a little 5 letter word (infinitely better than any 4-letter profane word) and the above scripture should be spoken out loud in my opinion. I can reflect on the words all I want, but I then need to come to the conclusion to Trust God. In my opinion it would not be trust if it was easy.
Just like walking on water for Peter made no logical sense, neither do the answers to the many of the troubles we face. Walking on water is of course a miracle and not a parlor trick or slight of hand.. er.. slight of foot.. BUT maybe the answers to my prayers are your prayers are no less a miracle even if they appear to be more subtle.
For example when a person prays for a tragic family situation that seems hopeless and rolling out of control BUT prayer intercedes and life no longer is hopeless but is back on track.. that may be GOD'S SUBTLE MIRACLE. When you have no way of paying your mortgage and the deadline is here, and you work so hard, and you prayer so hard, then TRUST God.. and somehow the funds are available.. it may be a subtle miracle of God.
On the sobering side of prayer we do find man has free will and sometimes must accept that God's will and his providence is bigger than any circumstance. Bad things do happen to good people. This is a fallen world with much sadness and tragedy. We do hurt, we are fragile, there is sickness, and we all will die.. BUT this does NOT discount the the loving miracles of God.
I believe it was Albert Einstein who said "Coincidences are miracles where God wished to remain annonymous."
Of course right after Labor Day we return to rush hour traffic, work, or school, but as I reflect on Labor Day.. I hope and pray for a day to regroup and recoop our energies for another season of trusting and serving our Lord. Let's take the lid off of what is possible when we trust God.
I pray today for God's care to be on display in big and small ways. Where we are truly BBYD = Blessed Beyond our Dreams. May God find us obedient on this Labor day and those other 364 days too.
Jeff (not breaking a sweat today) Larson
Most every year I share a story from the Old West (umm 1960s), but just like any Clint Eastwood Western ie. The Good the Bad and the Ugly, or The Unforgiven.. this story of Justice with six-shooters blazing begs to be retold.
I enjoyed watching a while back 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 lived large in the tales of lawman versus Lawbreaker.
This brought my mind back to 55 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 deputy 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) talking big about "singin' is for girls." This type of brash defiance of our Lord could not be tolerated.
The time for words (or singin Jesus loves me') was over.. justice must be served.
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 'comeupins'. There would be no trial, there would be no chance for dem 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 55 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: Spiritual lesson for the day.. Make your peace with the Lord before you have your 'comeupins'.
I love my God, but during Sunday morning worship let's just say I am not GIFTED .. Please don't ask to me sing, clap, and chew gum at the same time. Our church is big enough that you would not be 'blessed' by hearing my mediocre voice... My lack of a sense of rhythm is concealed well because as I now raise my hands during worship in a low key manner which minimizes my ability to clap along with any song. I mean to say.. We are PROTESTANTS not PENTECOSTALS!
note: I am neither making fun of Protestants or Pentecostals here.. I am making fun of ME.. BUT I DIGRESS
But my Bull in a China 'Worship' Shop stylings is NOT my topic for today. The Bull I speak of exists in what I may say, or tweet, or maybe a facebook post. I have the ability to undermine the Gospel message with blunt, biting, and sometimes sarcastic words. AND if the person I am talking with or the group I disagree with I feel disrespects me.. my button gets pushed. This button must be pretty easy to spot and has hair trigger switch.
Like usual my disclaimer is .. I am not a bad guy, BUT sharp, and sarcastic words compounded by a frustrated spirit is NOT a fruit of God's Spirit. WHO KNEW?
The Fruit of God's Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, and self control to name a few. Well with this as my measuring stick I stand before you all blurting in my daily email A WITHERED TREE.
So back to being a BULL.. how do I stop myself from breaking life? How do I return to being peaceful? I think one of problems is though I break a few things and hurt a few feelings to those close to me,, the bigger damage I often do is crashing around inside my head hurting myself with feelings of failure.. and not allowing for God's Grace to heal me.
All I can do is pick up the pieces and not try to superglue them back together, but make them a matter of prayer. Ask forgiveness from those who I may have injured, and pray for God to intervene in my heart and mind, and a soul to where my bull like manners become peaceful. You know, that Peace that passes all understanding.
I don't want today's words to be a downer to any of you BULLS. I pray you will encourage any of you who struggle in your BULL-ish moments to regroup, and return to God where peace is waiting.
May God bless, lead and use each of us today DESPITE our frailties, insecurities, frustrations, limitations, and.. lead us through this faith journey without breaking the good China. AND if we do break anything, God's grace is bigger than superglue.
hmmm.. I think that should be on a Hallmark Card.
Jeff (Bullish in the Back Pew) Larson
PS.. a very big PS: Sharing the Gospel message can be another Bull in the China Shop moment. Not everyone has the gift of evangelism, but we ALL should pray for opportunities to share.
Pray to be used by God to share His light in this dark world. Through conversational testimony found in our words and actions the seeds are planted in those who at this point do not know Jesus. Whether we plant or sow we are all part of God's plan.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Cor. 3:7
This is the story of my ongoing love/hate relationship with TECHNOLOGY. Technical difficulties beyond our control can land a person in the BERMUDA TRIANGLE of TECHNOLOGY…
This is a land where
and in response harsh 'protestant' language is mumbled in the direction of a myriad of inanimate technologies.
I know from recent history Technology issues have tested the existence of any spiritual fruit in my life. My patience and self control were compromised by lost passwords, dropped connections, corrupted programs needing to be reinstalled, and the ever present threat of Spyware & Malware.
So what can I do? CALL SUPPORT! Of course there are those technical support calls that start by navigating through a labyrinth of 'press 1 for English, press 2 Spanish, 3 Piglatin' like choicesI and after a couple disconnects, followed by 35 minutes on hold (which includes the repeated recorded message "your call is very important to us, and will be answered in the order it was received and when we FEEL LIKE IT".
I am then connected to a support center located 1/2 way around the world In New Delhi by a person whose English is barely their second language going through their list of scripted responses.
Their confusing responses spoken with strong accents that are difficult for me to understand (my problem not theirs) but it only pushes my button until 'maybe' I become sarcastic with words outside of previously mentioned Fruit of God's Spirit .. ie peace, patience, self-control but included in the above mentioned 'harsh protestant' language.
So join me today in my ANTI-TRIBUTE to Technology collection 'PROVING' Technology is FROM THE DEVIL
OK, while the above are very 'real' (lol) technology issues are maybe true .. I plan to enjoy the blessings of technology as a tool for sharing God's Truth and for building His church.
Have a great day blessed by God in great ways, and blessed not cursed by technology. It may cause us angst, but it in reality is also an amazing tool God has provided for us. Technology can put us on instant paths of light or darkness. This is a world of great blessing, and great evil where the darkness of pornography exists. PRAYERFULLY CHOOSE WISELY.. stay in the Light.
No matter your GEEK-STATUS let's prayerfully be faithful (up to 5g or maybe 1 Gig speed) in our techie moments just like all other aspects of life.
Jeff ( 404 error code) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson