A Narcissist is a person with an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. Narcissists are selfish and have a sense of entitlement. They lack empathy, seek attention, and are self-centered.
Examples of Narcissists should be limited to very young babies... But today they are also found in politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and entitled pro athletes. They live a self-adoration existence prone to share their 'gold nuggets of wisdom' with us 'common folk'. How else could we carry on?
But Sadly... narcissism also can be found in today's Church. Too many preach/tweak God's Word for the itching ears of those who prioritize entertainment over seeking God.
Church Narcissism can be found in messages like... 1. God loves you just the way you are. 2. You are enough, 3. the prosperity gospel, and 4. become a better you. Prosperity and comfort take precedence over loving God with all your heart, and others as yourself. God's two greatest commandments Matthew 6:5-15
But Also... I observe church narcissism that is fueled by our insecurities. Our busy anxious minds can obsess over hurt feelings as our eyes are fixed on ourselves. These are self-preservation fears that can drive us inward as much as any of the above ego-motivated narcissism.
note: Of course, Christian Narcissism is an oxymoron of Biblical proportions. Narcissism is self-serving while True Christianity serves God and others.
In a recent Bible study with friends, we read The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer .. and in this short book, Tozer prescribes the cure for Narcissism.
Together let's pursue His Truth and serve with His church in this world as the Body of Christ. We are one body with many parts (denominations, giftedness, talents) all designed (narcissism free) for the Glory of God.
Jeff (one body, many aches) Larson
Let me start today with a good ol' Protestant Brag.
I have attend church most every week, and not just Sunday mornings, I often go on Wednesdays too. I accepted Jesus into my heart at age 6, was baptized at age 14, and have been married to a wonderful Christian woman for almost 38 years! You see, I AM ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS.
Besides going to church, I work hard, pay my bills, and have endured rush hour traffic that would tempt Mother Theresa's to swear like a sailor.
I aspire to be like Jesus and so again.. I declare.. "I am a pretty pretty good guy." BUT.. (NEWS FLASH) I am really any better than those who never darken the door of a local church. Let's just say I am a lifelong member of the 'Flawed Folk Fellowship'.
The friendly members of 'Flawed Folk Fellowship' are known for their welcoming slogan 'No Perfect People Allowed' but this also could serve as a disclaimer much like you hear at the end of one of those prescription med TV ads.
CURElanta may be right for you. <pause> BUT.. some taking CURElanta "may experience tingling toes, a bloody nose, itchy ears, swollen rear, and.. in extreme cases DEATH or worse.
Our Flawed Folk disclaimer could be .. In some cases those attending Flawed Folk Fellowship experience involuntary hand raising, amen vocalizations and often the compulsive utterance of a hallelujah. On other Sundays sermon snoring may occur.
All silliness aside.. there are two recurring comments you hear regarding us Flawed Folk.
My prayer for each of you today is to find your own Flawed Folk Fellowship. To share, and support each other in our struggles, and to worship together the one true God of our Bibles is priceless.
Jeff (faulty) Larson
Before I get to today's message I would like to share the following COVID-19 Anthem performed by the John Lennon Worship Band back in the days of all things Pandemic. This was before churches reopened across Minnesota at glacial speeds. Back in the day of closures when I was ready to attend almost any church just short of those that handle.. SNAKES.
IMAGINE there's no COVID ..
it's easy if you try..
No SOCIAL DISTANCE controls us..
No FAUCI sayin' "yer gonna die!"
IMAGINE all the people ATTENDING CHURCH today..
You may say that I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
when STREAMING CHURCH is done
- John Lennon Worship Band
But that was so 2020.. now churches were open again. Fundamentalists, Progressives, Catholics, Lutherans, the rest of them Pentecostal folk including a few Name it Claim it Prosperity Gospel venues all doin' their Sunday 'thang'.
As the drinking phrase goes.. What's your poison? Ok, poison is not a good analogy while those 'snake handlers' are still out there, but the point is now we can go ANYWHERE that fits your denominational bent.
So onward and forward we go where your stereo-typical guy (not me) does not want to go to church. His attitude and thoughts are captured below..
- the 'some guy' Sunday morning monologue
I could tell this was going to be a very bad day to go to church. Just getting out of bed was tough enough.. and the Sunday paper was calling my name…. “psst fella, over here… read me!” And my smartphone loaded lock stock and barrel with Social Media apps stream (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TickTok, Instagram, etc) and all call to me with Sunday morning memes and silly cat pictures.
AND.. The glorious morning coffee is brewing, and it calls to me too.. “hey guy, slow down.. it’s Sunday.” So, I listened to the voices.. I grabbed the paper, my smartphone, a BIG cup of coffee.. and I am ready for ..no-action.
Now I am a good Christian man and I realize it is Sunday, BUT sometimes as the leader of our family it is important to declare a family day!.. meaning.. we stay home from church so we can spend quality time together bonding.
Ok, ok.. 'family day' is actually code for I WANT TO STAY HOME AND NOT SHOWER UNTIL NOON… drink a pot of coffee, and read the Sunday funnies, the sports section, and watch funny cat videos on my phone.
Well I may be the head of the house, BUT my wife wants no part of 'family day'. She wants to leave the comfort of our home and sing with the blessed saints at our church.
Sing? I don’t like to sing, and I know the people I go to church with, and while they are nice.. SAINTS they AINT.
So off we go to church leaving my Sunday morning paper and my coffee at home. “goodbye paper! Goodbye coffee!”…
Next, off we go down that familiar road to that familiar church to see familiar church folk with the backseat of our family car loaded with our darlin’ children who set the mood by bickering and fighting the whole blessed drive to church… I am now SOOO in the mood to worship. NOT! as I lament a ‘family day’ lost.
We arrive at the blessed house of God and are immediately greeted by overzealous handshakers welcoming me like they thought I wanted to be there... instead of drinking coffee with by BFF (the Sunday Paper).
In the Fellowship Center they have coffee.. but it is not STARBUCKS, or Folgers, or even SANKA! I like my coffee strong and black (like a middle linebacker), but my church serves it in the traditional big ALUMINUM DRUM that has been used but not cleaned since the Eisenhower Administration.
This is not real coffee.. it is CHURCH COFFEE, but I down a couple cups of this caffeine fix to stay awake during the upcoming service, but this comes with some .. bladder side effects.
After the formalities of church coffee and donut holes we move to church sanctuary. We have no theater seating at our church but instead use traditional wooden (with no pads) church pews where I sit and pray for a sliver free service. The sanctuary is not really so crowded, but I am a big guy, and the ambiance falls short in comfort to sitting in MY living room drinking MY coffee, and reading MY Sunday paper.. in MY PJs!! without the risk of slivers…
BUT I DIGRESS… again!
Our Worship Leader is a bit over the top, and his Las Vegas flair certainly is noticeable during his rendition of ‘The King is Coming’.. This only serves to bring the ‘worship wonders’ out of the wood work.
I don’t sing so ‘goodr’, and my sense of rhythm is that of a badger with back spasms. IT’S NOT PRETTY… But no worry.. we have all the 'charismaniacs' to make up for me… performing for style points again.
We have Bullwinkle, the six-shooter, a lady who appears to have WINGS, and then I have to get the seat behind this guy with the plumbers backside with hands raised high. It is like the 'Worship Circus' has come to town.
Even when the people are not hootin’ and hollerin’ they are peculiar.. AND past Sunday mornings have not been free of controversy.
Before the 'The Covid' there was the Great Head-Lice Epidemic of 1994.
The Cal Ripken of ushers who should have just taken a sick day instead of infecting and grossing out the parishioners one communion Sunday in 1998. AND .. with regards to our church being full of grace.. well NOT to the repeat offenders.
NEXT..The offering/guilt plate is passed which I with a smirk I say.. ”no thanks, I am trying to cut back on giving.”
PREACH IT BRUTHA'
After the above tithes & offerings are collected Pastor 'whatz his name' saunters up to the pulpit… armed only with one lapel microphone and the word of God.
Pastor words and mannerisms are direct, and passionate, but with his zipper accidentally was left wide OPEN that less than holy smirk returns to my face and I PRAY “Dear God please keep me from giggling!” Nothing sounds sillier than a big man giggling at church!
The service ends without incident, and I return home to my 'family day' lost. The magic is gone, and I have missed almost half of the Sunday Afternoon game of the week. ARGH!
I do hope and pray there are jewels in my crown someday in Heaven because on this day.. I WAS AT CHURCH worshiping with the saints (lol) when I wanting to be home worshiping God in my own way with my new VR Church Gaming System.
- THE END of the 'some guy' Sunday morning monologue
Now, I must say again. I am not that guy.
Truth be told, I look forward to Church most every week. It is the gathering of Christ's followers to first and foremost worship Him... and this fellowship of flawed folk is the REAL Church intentionally loving God, each other, and others as ourselves.
May God bless and encourage each of you today even if some weeks you resemble the above mentioned 'anonymous guy'.
Jeff (donning another Pajama Day look) Larson
Our Church History is blessed by great men & women who served and many martyred for the sake of the Cross
In contrast today I see too many 'churches / ministries' led by folk standing behind .. POULTRY PULPITS
Chicken Preachers reading redacted version of God's Word to appease the masses, and
Turkey Preachers subverting God's Truth for fame and fortune. Let me expand below.
Chicken Preachers share often inspiring messages but are short of sharing the Gospel message. Chicken Clergy share 'how to have a better life now' while treating Jesus like our personal life coach rather than our savior. Chicken Preachers believe words like sin, repentance, and salvation are divisive, outdated 'churchy words. Chicken Preachers are more afraid offending society than offending God. They lack conviction and/or understanding on Biblical teachings regarding race, gender, and sex but instead blend with this world's BLM, CRT, and LGBTQ+ agendas like clergy chameleon.
and they ignore Jesus teachings like..
-"Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! Lk 12:51".
-"and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Mt 25:32", and
-"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Mt 7:13-14".
This kind of talk would have a certain negative affect on attendance and giving.
Turkey Preachers are fame, glory, and money based 'ministries'. For Turkey Preachers it is less of a calling from God, and more of a career choice based on Enneagram personality test with Benny Hinn financial aspirations. Turkeys Preachers desire to be followed by thousands instead of leading thousands to follow Jesus. Turkey Preachers focus on personal wealth over helping those in need, and spreading the Gospel. Their motto.. The Turkey Preacher who dies with the most toys wins?
Easy Turkey examples are Big $$ Faith Healers, Prosperity Gospel / Name it Claim it folk, self proclaimed Prophets, & red neck adrenaline junkie Snake Handlers.
I want to be clear now, I am not calling megachurches or mega-ministries POULTRY PULPIT PREACHERS'. God bless all (big and small) who focus on the word of God rather than personal anecdotes and jokes. God bless all who serve those in need with or without abundance. God bless all who share the full Gospel Message that we are sinners and all need a savior.
Finally, I pray I am not a chicken or turkey with my faith. Do I live my life with love for God and others? Am I faithful to God's Word in a world that mocks His truths? Am I willing to stand strong in this secular world or do I blend in? Dare to be a Daniel.
That's it. I pray God finds all of you good folk to be bold, faithful, loving for Jesus and involved in a church with a preacher behind a feather free pulpit.
Jeff (cooped up in the Back Pew) Larson
Lukewarm Coffee (The LWC) is that Twiligtht Zone coffee existence between hot and cold brews where a well intended piping hot cup is forgotten or ignored. And last I checked, Starbucks does not feature LWC anywhere on their menus. Nor is there a coffee target market serving drab people wearing old sweats, doning bed hair, with a 2 day beard eating plain white bread from the bag who is demanding luke warm coffee.
NO ONE wants lukewarm coffee, though I have .. it is GOOD when I have a headache and I spot a half a cup of LWC sitting around from the morning to wash down two Excedrin.
Also note this concern of LWC is a big enough that God speaks 'directly' to the topic in Revelations where the angel of the church of Laodicea exclaims..
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (like a cup of room temp generic instant decaf coffee using a non-dairy creamer and a sweetener substitute). Revelations 3:15-16
note: the excerpt in parenthesis was not from 'The Message'.. I added it for my LWC emphasis.
But there is a very sobering message in this scripture. Being a LWC believer (even with sweetener added) is not a safe place to be. Will a lukewarm faith get me to Heaven? Well, the whole God spitting me out of His mouth seems to be a pretty clear NO.
God is not amused by a half-hearted devotion or playing church when our worship and love is deserved.
Next let's move to the LWC Fellowship Center (aka Church) where I observe being seeker friendly with attendance and the Worship 'Show' have become a misguided measure of spirituality. 'Giving the people what they want instead of what they need is lukewarm at best.'
This, while hearing sermons that nothing more than a 'be a better you' pep talk without starting with a repentant heart. Note: Getting my heart right with God trumps getting what I want.
Next, read John 6:25-59 where Jesus speaks clearly to His followers ..
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
When many of his disciples heard it (Jesus teaching), they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (The Truth? They could not handle the Truth!) 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (Jesus message was not very seeker friendly). 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him (with a Hot Coffee Faith), “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
So in this LWC world with LWC churches, I pray we follow God with a Hot Coffee Faith just like Peter. Truly , "Lord, to whom else shall we go, You have the words of eternal life."
I am, you are, and we the Church are called to be the the salt and light and THE HOT COFFEE for this world serving lukewarm flavorless substitutes for truth.. in the dark.
May God bless and use you in ways that are BEYOND YOUR DREAMS for HIM!
Jeff (aspiring to be a Grande Latte) Larson
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.
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
Lukewarm Coffee (LWC) exists in a land between hot and cold where room temperature is king. It is the 'Twilight Zone' of brews. Most LWCs were once a well intended piping hot cup of coffee until forgotten or ignored. They (LWCs) are the 'stale donuts' of the beverage world.
And last I checked, neither Starbucks or Dunn Brothers feature lukewarm coffee. GO FIGURE! Not not even for a niche target market of very plain boring people dressed in old sweats, bed hair, and a 2 day beard eating plain white bread from the bag while demanding their LWC.
NO ONE wants lukewarm coffee, and I believe the only acceptable use for it is .. when I have a splitting headache with two Excedrin in my hand and I spot a half a cup of LWC sitting around from this morning to wash down the meds before my head explodes.
Of course our Bibles speak often on the topic of coffee (ie Hebrews hahaha.. old joke), and even tackles the specific topic of LWC in Revelations 3:15-16 where the angel of the church of Laodicea speaks out..
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (like a cup of lukewarm generic instant decaf coffee with non-dairy creamer and a sweetener substitute).
note: If you did not guess, the part in parenthesis was not from 'The Message'.. I added it myself to emphasize my LWC point.
But there is a very sobering interpretation of this scripture. Being a LWC believer (even with sweetener added) is not a safe place to be. Will lukewarm get me to Heaven? Well, the whole God spitting me out of His mouth is a pretty clear NO... IMO.
God is not amused by half-hearted devotion. In fact God sounds frustrated, dare I say disgusted in Revelations 3:15-16 when we are only playing church.
So I read this passage and look at my life. I am a good guy, no major ( or minor ) crimes, I go to church most every week. I love God, my family, and have good friends making this life good.. for ME, BUT.. am I actually living a lukewarm cup of decaf and a stale donut communion lifestyle? I like to think not, but this is an honest GUT CHECK.
So in my 'Hot Coffee Analogy' how would an angel of God describe you? Hot, cold, or a 3 day old LWC brew with cream curdling at the top?
I am NOT saying being anything less than the next Billy Graham or Mother Theresa is lukewarm.. but please LET'S NOT be indifferent about the creator of this world or others in need. Frankly being OK is LWC.
My bigger concern.. I observe the Church as a whole is so seeker friendly to the point where attendance numbers and a great Sunday Worship 'Show' are their primary measure of spirituality. Our motto is 'Give the people what they want? ' instead of 'give them what they need.'
Read John 6:60-63, 66-69
When many of his disciples heard it (Jesus teaching), they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (The Truth? You can't handle the Truth!) 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. ..
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (so NOT seeker friendly of Jesus). 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him (with Hot Coffee Faith), “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:60-69
Using today's Seeker Friendly church model (with the motto no one get's burned with LWC).. was Jesus a failure?
My prayer today is God will bless and speak to each of you. May we listen to His voice and serve Him like never before in a way that is anything but lukewarm.
Jeff (aspiring to be a Grande Latte) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson