Ready, set, go! These are the words spoken to start a backyard or neighborhood race, but NOT an Olympic 100-meter race. I think they use a pistol. But for today's ramble, I 'ready, set, go' will suffice as I discuss the race called 'LIFE.'
Of course, in 'LIFE,' the goal is NOT to finish fast (aka die young), but instead run a good race (2 Timothy 4:7) and live life to the full (John 10:10).
READY SET GO... Life starts at conception, and in about 9 months, there is a new born baby. But as we all know, babies are not very FAST.
But no matter if babies are slow out of the gate (they sleep a lot) it is our READY SET GO starting point.
So go already... GO!
My 'ready set go' baby moment was in August 1957. I was raised by loving Christian parents, gave my heart to Jesus at age 6, and was baptized at 14, all while my family attended a small-town church where I learned to love Jesus.
After this, I did my version of grown-up life by getting a job, falling in love, getting married, having kids, and owning a dog or two. Dogs are important.
Important Note: I was (and am) a pretty good guy., but any 'pretty good guy or gal' lives any of us live is a relative existence when compared to others instead of God's Word.
Over the years, I have made several observations
Mistakes will be made on everyone's LIFE journey. Poor choices and unfortunate circumstances can leave us at times with overwhelming regrets and burdens. BUT... God's Grace redeems a repentant heart. Do not be anchored to your past. With Jesus, there is hope for us all. God listens and answers prayers in big and small ways. Trust in Him, and don't dwell on your past.
And WHEN not IF you fall, it's never too late to begin again knowing God loves you (John 3:16).
Ready, set, GO already as you prayerfully ... Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8.
No GPS is required...
And it goes without saying...avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Route 666, even if society's GPS recommends it as the easiest and fastest route. Instead, be on the less traveled narrow road using God's Word and prayer as your guide that leads on the right path for this life and someday Heaven. Mt 7:13-14.
This ends my 'Ready, set... GO!' summary of life. It matters eternally how you run this race. I pray we all run it in a way that shows our love for God and others.
May God bless and lead each of you on your own 'Ready Set Go' journey. Whether you live to be 100 or not, this life is a blink of an eye. Finish Well.
Jeff (Already 66 years down this road! YIKES!) Larson
Cliff Notes are... A summary of a much longer work designed to allow a student to quickly learn the key points of the longer work.
So would... Cliff notes on Cliffs be... don't jump off them?
Now let me segue to a couple mentions of cliffs in God's Word.
Psalms 118:13, the Psalmist writes... I was right on the cliff edge, ready to fall, when God grabbed and held me.
Luke 4:29, we read of the unruly mob wanting to kill Jesus by throwing him off a cliff.
Also, Matthew 18:6 implies the dangers of being a Millstone Diver on a seaside cliff, and...
Matthew 7:13 shares the dangers found on the broad road most everyone travels.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
So far, you are thinking... Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Okay, so far, my cliff notes on safety are... Avoid cliffs, and do not travel the wide accessible road to destruction our secular world travels.
Therein lies the problem, IMO. Today's society is a LEMMING SOCIETY into the abyss, just like an infamous LEMMING 'pilgrimage.'
From my vantage point, sitting in the Back Pew, being a lemming is nothing to brag about.
First, he is part of the rodent family, and his claim to infamy is his suicidal cliff-diving method of population control.
While we are not literal lemmings, our society does possess many lemming traits. Despite the many red flags of dire consequences, we tend to follow the crowd. It is the temptation of choosing the easy but ultimately foolish way. Let's fit in with the crowd/mob and not make waves until you ironically fall to the crashing waves below. Note: We all have a little lemming in us.
But the Bible teaches us instead of the lemming way to renew our minds.
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In other words... Repent of our cliff-diving lemming ways.
Too often, 'Christians' apologize, go silent, or become embarrassed rather than stand up for Jesus. We go with the flow in this crass society, waste money like our neighbors, and keep up with the Joneses as much as possible, leaving little time or money to honestly love God or care for others. Maybe even wandering near a spiritual cliff.
And maybe we are not near a cliff, but what do we do when we see others on an eternity path that does not lead to Heaven? We may not join them, but we certainly do not warn them of this 'eternity cliff.'
I do pray for something more. I pray to be on the path that leads to Heaven. I pray the attractions and distractions of this world do NOT drag me along to where I never intended. I pray we remember we are here to honor God with our lives.
May God bless and lead each of you today. Be still and listen for his leading, read His Word, seek his will, obey God only, and avoid the way of the lemming as he looks for that 'perfect' cliff.
Jeff (just say NO to Lemmings) Larson
The Bible is a fantastic collection of God's inspired Word for mankind, including many great and mighty acts of God. Here are a few noteworthy unforgettable God moments.
In the Old Testament, there was.
In the Gospels, Jesus ...
This Bible is also a RULE BOOK FOR LIFE with directions for conducting ourselves and for success, covering almost every situation we may face. But these Bible lists of Dos and Don’ts and the above-mentioned mighty miracles of God are only a clanging cymbal without the truth Jesus loves me.
Jesus loves me; this, I know... is a cute Sunday School song, but why does the creator of this world love me? It’s a miracle.
Getting to know the preacher in any big church is nearly impossible today. In contrast, our omniscient, omnipresent creator is involved with His creation to the point where all the miracles mentioned above and all the details between Genesis 1 through this moment are NOT indifferent to His creation. However, mankind often walks the other way; God is always there.
The Bible's words shout the truth of a personal God who loves us enough to send us his son. From the Old Testament stories of providence to the Gospels of Jesus Christ, to the Acts of the first church, to the Revelations, to John of what is to come... these are all LOVE STORIES from a loving God!
An indifferent God would not be involved or patient with mankind, and it's often prone to wonder actions of free will.
So, In this 24/7 world of distractions from our creator, let’s realize JESUS LOVES US and then live out God's two greatest commandments in response. Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind, and others as yourself.
Jesus loves me. This I know! Go figure! Peace be Still! Jesus loves me. This I know! The rest is details.
Jeff (Jesus loves me, this I know) Larson
Side point: I bought a coffee coaster that says.. Jesus loves you, BUT I'm His favorite. While this is not true ( He loves us all the same ), I thought it was a cute, smirky coaster.
Ever console yourself regarding your behavior, words, judgments, and/or circumstances that make you look bad by qualifying these moments with the following.... “Well, at least I am not like so-in-so."
With these simple words, I prop up my relative goodness by comparing myself with someone I deem as more flawed than me. And just like that... WHAM BAM my life is graded on a gentle self-affirming curve.
Using this self-affirming yardstick, let me share a few 'at least I never' moments from the Bible and today for you to measure your goodness. Are you ready? Let’s get started.
The Old Testament
The New Testament
Of course, these 'at least I never' examples are only here to make you smile, as any comparison to another person is a flawed yardstick at best.
Instead, we are called to Love God with all our heart and love others, not compare (i.e., 'at least I never' ) with them.
Also, concerning our goodness... We are not so good.
Our sins are as scarlet, He makes them white as snow. Isaiah 1:18
for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
AGAIN... all are Justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus! This is our hope and promise from God and not by comparison to anyone you are 'at least not like'.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
May God bless and comfort you with these promises of God's Grace for a repentant heart and where you no longer look to rely on any 'at least I never' yardstick.
Jeff (at least I do not attend a snake handler church) Larson
I remember back when I was a kid in gym class and did not want to be the last kid chosen for a team. I don't like to brag, but I was not that kid.
I was a decent athlete, and even if the game was dodgeball, I was always a solid pick. Of course, I may have been that last pick if there was a robotics team back then.
We can all breathe 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 leading his team.
Need proof? Below are just a few God chose for his team.
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 talents such as 'fishing' and 'tax collecting' but not a youth pastor or worship leader credential to be found. Seminary background, maybe? Lol, not so much. Not even experience as the side ushers 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, yet Jesus did just that. He 'chose' the thief for his team. That is how big God's Grace is.
Next, God chooses the very first 'Missionary' to share the Gospel with the world!
"With the first pick, in the first round of the first Gospel Missionary Draft, I choose Saul of Tarsus." These are the paraphrased words of Jesus 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 was 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- I believe choosing a guy breathing threats and murder against the disciples was a RISKY choice, but that's just me.
Now, fast forward a couple thousand years and some changes to 2023.
I have not experienced a literal burning bush while walking my dog or a 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 regarding 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, listen 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 BEYOND YOUR DREAMS and all that God intends.
Jeff (Chosen.. go figure) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson