My 4 year old granddaughter Greyleigh May was sputtering at me other day wanting a ball that had rolled to me. "Grandpa, give me the ball." She demanded with a very insistent look on her face. She can really put on the attitude, but oh so cute. Anyways in response to her demand, I smiled to her, and told her she must say with a big smile.. "Oh most wonderful grandfather, may I PLEASE have the ball?" Well she was a bit tired and would not even smile at me, and would stare me down, and would in response say "Give it to me." I finally gave in after unsuccessfully getting her to smile. It was actually pretty cute.. because she is four years old.
In contrast for about eight weeks I have been sputtering, stewing, and mumbling to myself (and others) my displeasure over an injustice/issue at work. Each day I would faithfully carry my lunch, a thermal coffee mug that keeps my coffee hot for almost 8 hours, and a mug on my face that expressed my displeasure without saying a word for those same 8 hours.
It is cute and understandable when my granddaughter Greyleigh puts on an attitude, but when her 60 year grandfather demonstrates the same attitude.. it's not so cute.
Then a sermon at our church the other week referenced 'Don't let the sun go down on your anger.' Ephesians 4:26. Heard it many times before, but a light bulb went off for me this time. It is not about the literal sun going down, but about harboring my bad/angry attitude.
This is most likely a 'Well Duh!' moment for most of you, but then again I am pretty sure others of you may confess angry or bitter attitudes similar to me or at least like my granddaughter.
Greyleigh of course woke up the next day all smiles and life was good again and for those around her who might have her ball. Same was true for me as when I changed my attitude at work even if the circumstance did not directly change the environment I worked in but my relationship with those I had contention with has improved dramatically.
May God bless each of us today with smiling faces (inside & out) without harboring the negative attitudes, actions, and anger that only serve to make us ill. Love God & Care for others, the rest is in comparison trivia.
Jeff (Happy now in the Back Pew) Larson
Aretha Franklin sang her signature hit R E S P E C T in 1967 as a declaration from a strong, confident woman, who demands the"respect" of her man.
Now 40 years later Aretha's cry for R E S P E C T has been hijacked and ratcheted up with evening news shows reporting/exploiting headlines of sexual harassment (and worse), bullying, systematic white supremacy, white privilege, racism, reverse racism, envy, greed, hatred, and melting fragile snow-flakes claiming 'micro-aggression' by the man. Whoever the man is. Don't get me wrong, injustice is a serious matter, but truth often is lost in our GUILTY before proven INNOCENT society.
The above mentioned microagressions are front and center in our new victim society. Microaggressions are defined as the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.
By this 'standard' I have been microaggressed as a white male with a rural Wisconsin upbringing lacking economic opportunities or exposure to a racially diverse culture. As I get older and I am now microaggressed for wearing bi-focals, and hearing aides by my younger better seeing, hearing, and looking co-workers.
Truth is I am NOT microaggressed, and I believe it is all hogwash. Life is good but has never been a level playing field. So let's all determine to.. BUCK UP BUTTERCUP!
But back to Aretha's call for RESPECT.. Why do we make RESPECT so complicated? In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus taught us the two greatest commandments“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ .. and.. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
If I truly love my neighbor my words and deeds will demonstrate respect, and a nice byproduct is it's difficult to feel micro-aggressed if my focus is on God and others.. leaving little time for my hurt feelings.
So I pray today God blesses and uses His people to be the loving hands and feet to those who are in need as Jesus has commanded. (note these are God's commandments, not suggestions) May our hearts, words, and actions always be compassionate to this hurting world.
Jeff (micro-regressed?) Larson
p.s. On a lighter note, I would like to share a clip regarding Injustice inherent in the system at the time of King Arthur. Repression Inherent in the System. <-- click here for a chuckle
Spiritually speaking It's so easy to wander into the shadows, and then closer to real Darkness if I am not careful.
Darkness can be conscious choice or found on the slippery slope found in what I browse on the internet, or the movies/tv shows I choose to watch.
Darkness can also be found in watching the 24/7 BAD news channels where all is a world of conflict, hate, and unabashed Godlessness. God is not an option thus saith the media.
FOR ME.. I recently wandered into Darkness over a conflict at work. My irritation grew as I would spin, and twist over this 'situation' to where my mood, my spirit is not what God expects of, or wants for me. This will again be a matter of prayer for me. If there was a spiritual weather forecast for Jeff it would be.. Today, mostly cloudy at work with some thunder rumbles/mumbles heard in Jeff's brooding dark attitude/skies. Tomorrow after a good night sleep and prayer.. Jeff should move from morning clouds to a mostly clear spirit .. after his morning coffee of course. Hopefully there will be sunshine before noon. Or is it Sonshine?
So the choice is mine, and the choice is yours... Light or Dark? If we are talking toast, you can have it your way. If we are talking about our spirit, attitude, or life choices .. stay in the light.
May God bless and use each of you to shine his Light in a Dark world.
Note: It is one thing to walk through any 'Valley of Death' (Psalms 23) due to circumstances.. it is another thing to go there on a field trip ON PURPOSE.
Low-Batt Signal sounds like a problem when the Joker, Riddler, and the Penguin are on a Crime Spree and Commissioner Gordon needs Batman and Robin NOW but the Bat Signal needs to replace a couple AA Batteries. Hence the Lo-Bat signal
Ok, today I am not concerned about a low Bat Signal, but I am having trouble with a Lo-Batt Signal in my 'spirit'.
But let me start with the first day of the week, Sunday. I attend a church which has the slogan no perfect people allowed. They may not be perfect but they are pretty good. They are welcoming to all, and have a great little coffee shop in the fellowship area. I like coffee! The church service has great worship, and the pastor always shares a relevant, grace filled message.
Also on every other Sunday evening my wife and I host a small group bible study with 8 others from the church that have become our good friends. So a quick check of my spiritual battery on most Sunday evenings and I appear in good shape for another week.
Then Monday comes, followed by it's evil sidekicks Tuesday - Friday. The Good News shared on Sunday is replaced by 24/7 Bad News channels. Oh good does happen but that does not sell ads for CNN, FOX, CBS, NBC, or ABC.
Monday through Friday has replaced the 'no perfect people allowed' slogan with slogans like .. 'What happens in Vegas , stays in Vegas'. .. and there is rush hour traffic!
Monday through Friday replaces the generosity found when the offering plate is passed on Sunday with a land of greed. Greed in the work place, and greed in a society where wants are more important than needs.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot almost every Monday-Friday after working 8 hours I am TIRED. It's November now and within an hour after getting home from work it is getting dark, and I live in Minnesota so it goes without saying it is getting cold. All this is draining on my spirit and can bring me to a LO-BATT state.
Ok, as 'per usual' I do embellish a bit, but I do not think I am the only one who feels drained by the week and wondering where that Sunday Spirit has gone. So what's a lo-batt fella like me supposed to do?
Here are a few tips I try to follow...
1. Be sure to get enough sleep. Don't underestimate the power of sleep unless you are doing it at work. :(
2. Go on a TV Diet. Don't bloat your brain on 24/7 bad news, or UNREAL reality TV, etc etc
3. Enjoy your friends and family.. and enjoy peace & quiet. (see #2) the TV does not have to be on.
4. Read a good book, even better yet The Good Book. and stay in an attitude of prayer.
5. Be thankful, as I have learned complaining can be a big big battery drain.
These are just a few basics to keep me from going Lo-Batt, and your just say NO to Lo-Batt list may vary.
May you find the love of God and the pursuit of Him in all things energizes you in this busy life. Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and others as yourself. The rest is by comparison.. trivial pursuit.
May your Sunday's always charge your batteries, and your Mon-Fri be no match for your life in tune with Jesus.
Jeff (looking for Sunday) Larson
Note of Clarification The following 'deep thoughts' are about the little word 'BUT' is not to be confused with the word 'BUTT' (aka bottom) which always makes Minions laugh. End of Clarification
I recently read a quote by Tim Keller on Twitter.. 'Repentance is crucial for renewal and restoration', and full disclosure honesty is required for true repentance.
Very true, BUT it is often easier to say "I am sorry, BUT.." then insert my favorite excuse/rationalization of what I am supposedly sorry for. Here a few I am sorry BUTs.
These are just a few 'sorry buts' there are plenty more to share but I will stop there. Instead of making more excuses I could just simply again repeat the Man Prayer from Red Green.. "I'm a man, I can do better, if I have to, AMEN." Hmmm I find I could pray that prayer almost every day.
Of course in contrast the Woman's Prayer is a bit more passionate and focused.
But back to Tim Keller's words of wisdom. 'Repentance is crucial for renewal and restoration', and full disclosure honesty is required for true repentance. Not much wiggle room for any sorry buts.
BUT.. Hey I am a pretty good guy. I go to church, love my wife and stay out of trouble.
But who am I fooling? Not God. He knows my secret doubts, rage, anxiety, envy, and other more quiet rebellions against what I know is right in my heart. I have too often compromised time, resources, and talents that were truly a gift from God.
This being said I still am a pretty God guy.. REALLY!.. but a little more full disclosure honesty is needed before I can be removed from this Secret Society of the 'Sorry Buts'. Mark me as a work in progress.
What would be possible if we all were truly repentant and inspired by the love of God? It could be a revival in this fallen world like it has never seen.
May God bless each of you on your spiritual journey, where you are blessed and used by God in ways that are beyond your dreams.
Jeff (no buts about it) Larson
A while back my wife Mary and I were reading Max Lucado's book He Still Moves Stones. Let me paraphrase the words of Max Lucado. The honest prayer of a hurting man, the feeble prayer of a righteous man.. the awkward prayer of the average joe/jane, the timid prayer of those emotionally/spiritually broken down.. the sincere prayer of a sinner, EVEN a 'pathetic prayer of Jeff' .. HAS GREAT POWER and WONDERFUL RESULTS.
This rambling paraphrase is of James 5:16, and gleaned from the truths found in Mark 9. Take time to read both.
Max also writes ..Our prayers may be awkward, our attempts may be feeble. BUT since the power of prayer is in the one who 'hears' it and not the one who 'says' it, our prayers make a difference.
That is great news for folk like me as lately I have been pressed with a certain situation at work. It has caused a great tension in me, and though I know I am told to work as unto the Lord and not man my emotions are not there. In layman terms, I HATE MY JOB.
I know, I know Jeff is 60 years old and as a 'good christian' he should not feel that way, but he does, I mean, I DO. So I pray what I think must a Christian version of Red Green's Man Prayer. I am a man, I can change, if I have to, I guess.. amen.
Though I share this with a smirk.. it is all very true. If I am honest, I do hate my job but am praying about it. God is telling me what I need to change, and I am convicted of this, but it's not just as easy as flipping a switch in my heart and soul... and my circumstances.
Anyways so I say my sincere prayers to God that when the words leave my mouth may sound pathetic.. but I believe God is working in ME and in my situation.
So do you ever say pathetic prayers. I am sure you don't, it's only me right? But if you do say prayers that are simply HELP! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO! That's ok, because God does.
So let's unite in our prayer lives and pray with confidence to a God who loves you perfectly as our Heavenly Father. Even when you have pathetic moments like I do.
Jeff (in need of HELP) Larson
I guess by strict definitions I am a protestant, but technically more of a protestant MUTT with a dash of Catholicism.
Actually I would like to be simply defined as a CHRISTIAN thank you very much as I am not being a rebel, but I don't fit nicely into any denominational box.
And let me be clear I am not judging your choice of 'box' unless.. you have a SNAKE in it.
No matter your flavor of faith as long as you 1. Love God, and 2. Care for Others while using your Bible as your guide I think we make God smile. So with this in mind I place all I have learned from God and his church and it all fits nicely in 'My Faith Box'.
The next challenge is fitting My Faith Box into the ever changing Post Modern Society box aka the PM Society box. It's a big box with lights and sounds. Inside their is a society of blended cultures with ever changing faster than a speeding bullet technology, and much much more. I need to be careful when fitting My Faith Box in the PM Society Box can be messy. How does the old Christian saying go.. We are called to be in the world, but not of it. I believe this was a classic Billy Graham message.
So In this PM Society box I find things like.. The internet. Which is both an incredible resource for 1. LIGHT (faith, family, friends, news, etc) and 2. DARKNESS (anger, hatred, self-indulgence, porn, etc ).
The internet also offers the ever evolving social media kit at no extra charge where I can text, tweet, post on facebook, instagram, or you can blog.. Blog? sounds like a cheap horror movie.. 'The Attack of the 50' Blog'. Maybe that should be the name of my blog?
In our PM Society box I can also stream music, videos or even sermons (if I am feeling particularly spiritual ) of any big name preacher or subscribe to Cyber Cyde's Bed Hair Pod Cast.
This can all be done from the convenience of my office chair while donning the same gym shorts, tank top, and bed hair just like Cyber Clyde.
When PM Society is not on the computer it is on a smartphone, or surfing HD TV with a bazillion (I actually counted there are a bazillion) sports, news, and movie channels.
In PM Society people buy meals, high buck coffees and lattes through a drive through window... or have them even delivered to their door. They will soon even have their groceries delivered by little retail drones. I can't wait til they do appliance deliveries via drones. When that happens I am canceling Cable TV and just following the Home Delivery Channel.
My Faith Box is now feeling a little agitated and stimulated at the same time. So far I am having trouble keeping all this PM Society box stuff out of My Faith Box. I see a TV remote is in my Faith Box, and an Amazon Prime Card, in fact I think grease from a leaky fast food bag from the PM Society box is soaking into the corner of My Faith Box and sadly I like the smell. I kind of like some of this PM Society stuff, and it is easy to justify there place in my Faith Box. I THINK I NEED HELP.
OK, I may not be so desperate that I need a Faith Box Exorcism, or an Exterminator, but I could do some spring cleaning... here in November.
My serious prayer is to have an honest Faith Box, with the word of God in it that never changes and a prayer list that is ever changing. I want to be in this world but not of it. This world (aka PM Society Box) is a mess! It is filled with noise, smells, and sights that are often far from God. It is a box that NEEDS GOD, not religion of man, but needs GOD THE CREATOR and GOD THE SAVIOR.
PM Society box is in need of a revival.
I listened to a sermon recently by Louie Gigglio and he said where there is pain, where there is a mess this is where a revival can happen. No one has a personal revival when life is going perfect. So by this definition this world is ready for a revival.
So in this messy PM Society box, I pray we place our faith and pray God stirs a revival using our individual and collective faith boxes as an agent of change.
OK, probably I took the box analogy a bit too far about a half a blog ago, but if you are still with me I pray God inspires in us a love for Him that affects all aspects of life. The pursuit of God, to know God more will change our lives and then impact the lives in the PM Society box.
Jeff (All Boxed in) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson