Genesis 1 - In the beginning, God spoke the universe into existence. Some of those present claimed they heard a loud crackling sound like thunder, but most simply described it as sort of a.. BANG.. actually a BIG BANG!
At this point let me be clear, I am not here to discuss Old Earth v New Earth theories. This would be above the pay grade of this cartoonist, but what I will say is .. God created and it was GOOD!
Genesis 1:1-31 To summarize, this daunting project was completed in 6 days where Day 1: DAY , NIGHT , the SKY were spoke into existence by our Almighty Creator.
Genesis 2:1-3 Then on the 7th day God rested. In contrast I installed a bathroom floor in our town-home recently and I rested on the 5th, 6th, and 7th days and while it turned out nice it was not Hubble Telescope spectacular like God's Universe.
Those first 6 days His creation included the sun, stars, land, waters, and all the creatures in the sea and on land were created.
To rule over the lands and seas God created MAN Genesis 2:7 in His own image from the dust of the Earth followed by creating WOMAN from man's 'spare rib' declaring it is not good for man to be alone. Genesis 2:18
To which Adam declared.. "Hey beautiful, where have you been all my life?"
Then God commanded Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply".. to which Adam quickly started working on his times tables.
This creation story is all recorded into the Bible book of Genesis. While many Cosmologists believe the Big Bang was the creation of EVERYTHING from NOTHING followed by billions of years of random collisions and explosions resulted in our ever expanding universe, all the planets including Earth including life with all it's complexities.
Ok, I believe you can collide a chocolate bar with a jar of peanut butter and end up with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.. but this Universe has too moving parts + complexities that are bound together with rules and order for me to believe EVERYTHING came from NOTHING.
So I choose to believe there must be an intelligent design behind creation. For me, I believe in a divine creator that exists outside the confines of time and space. I believe this Intelligent Design is described in the Bible Book of Genesis.
May God bless each of you greatly in your pursuit of truth. This is important stuff, and a foundation for life. If there is a God then the pursuit of Him is a greater science than can be found looking through any microscope or telescope. Bigger than Star Trek's five year journey exploring the stars.
Jeff (little bang) Larson
A while back our pastor gave a sermon on getting to know God by reading our Bibles regularly and systematically. During this very good sermon our pastor joked that the most read books of the Bible are Genesis and Matthew, because our inspired intentions in January to read through our Bibles fades once we are through Genesis, and Matthew. (Leviticus has killed many a Bible study ).. then the next year we are back in Genesis and Matthew. I call this bible study plan.. The BEGINAGAINS.
I must be honest and say I have followed the BEGINAGAIN plan many times and not until 2003 did I completely read my Bible from cover to cover AND I CARTOONED THRU IT TOO! Note: Neither Billy Graham or the Pope could say they cartooned through the Bible. Then in 2018 lightning struck again as I read through my Bible from Genesis through Revelations. YEAH ME!
Now here I am starting out 2020 in the BEGINAGAINS using a chronological Bible with the intentions of getting past those tedious Dos and Don'ts highlighted in Leviticus.
Now for many reading through the Bible from beginning to end is not appealing and I understand that. My wife is one of those good folks. In fact I was told in a men's group about studying it is wrong to simply read the Bible through in a year. I DISAGREE.. for me reading through my Bible in order gives me a context and flow of stories and cultures that I may otherwise miss. This is NOT the only right way to read my Bible but it is a way that works for me.
No matter if you use tried and true(?) BEGINAGAINS Bible study, or topical study, or other method the important message is to be in God's word. DAILY!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Oh we will have questions, and we will not understand it at times. Creation, Noah and his Ark floating on a universal flood, parting of the Red Sea, Elijah riding a chariot of Fire, the Virgin Birth of Jesus, the feeding of 5,000 on fish and chips leftovers, the raising of the dead, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the end time prophecies. All these subjects and many more challenge our reasoning while we scratch our collective heads, and even question what we believe. BUT I have found honest questions are different than doubts, and reading my Bible gives me answers to where I build my faith and love in God.
WHERE SHOULD I PLACE MY FAITH?
Of course in the end we are each challenged regarding where we will place our faith. Will it be science alone, a progressive secular world view, Christianity, or another of the worlds religions. I choose to place my faith in the God of my Bible and this is where I place my hope.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
May God bless each of you in your spiritual journey, and I pray that we all make a priority of reading God's word and be wise in where we place our faith and our hope.
New Year's Blessings
Jeff (BEGINAGAIN) Larson
note: Please understand I respect those who disagree with me (even on the existence of God). My intentions are simply sharing where I place my faith.
I guess by strict definitions I am a protestant, but technically more of a protestant MUTT.
Actually I would like to be simply defined as a CHRISTIAN thank you very much. I am not being a rebel, but I don't fit nicely into any denominational box. I respect the views of others, but have to come to my own conclusions on all the nooks and cranny faith issues.
And let me be clear I am not judging your choice of 'box' unless.. you have a SNAKE in it.
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. This is 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. All the bells & whistles of the PM Society box are distracting and often attractive BUT I need to be careful when fitting My Faith Box in the PM Society Box. This can be messy.
I believe a classic Billy Graham message shared.. We are called to be in the world, but not of it.
And certainly not a frog simmering in a pot of secular values.
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 from the 1950s.. 'The Attack of the 50 Page 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 Clyde'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 your smartphone, or surfing HD TV with a bazillion (I actually counted there are a bazillion) sports, news, and movie channels.
In PM Society Box 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.
Regarding Revival: I listened to a sermon a while ago 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.
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 and His ways that make us truly salt and light in a PM Society box that is in contrast bland and existing in the dark like a mole eating rice cakes.
Jeff (All Boxed in) Larson
"I am off to pick a fight." is one of my favorite lines from one the movie.. ‘BraveHeart’.. not to be confused with Brave-Bird. see picture -->
BraveHeart is the story of William Wallace of Scotland fighting for the FRREEEDOMM against the oppressive rule of England. At one dramatic scene from the movie BraveHeart the Scots who were greatly outnumbered by the English are about to do battle. The well armed, well trained English did not take this rag-tag Scottish army seriously. But then after declaring.. “I am off to PICK A FIGHT.” .. in rides William Wallace (Mel Gibson) on his horse to mess with the peace negotiations between the Scots and England.
I won’t get into the details, but Wallace taunts and mocks the English until.. yes THERE WAS A FIGHT… and the Scots win!
The significant message of this movie is a call to do what is right no matter the cost, even the cost of maybe their lives.
Of course as modern day Christians we are not called to look for a fight, but we should NEVER be afraid to FIGHT for God's Truth. We answer to God, not to man. Some may cry out.. No, no, not the Crusades again…I go to church, I am a good person.. Please no Crusades 2019 unless they are like the Billy Graham Crusades. Billy Graham is good and I don't remember him in a fight.
Others recall.. "Jesus was about love. That's the Jesus we like.. the one about love. we don't associate with Christians who speak out against abortion, Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, or the LGBTQ like claims that there are more genders than Baskin Robbins has flavors of ice cream (31). Then the media beats their drum of secular outrage with stories about the dangerous bigoted 'religious right'. They guilt many for wanting to build a wall, owning a gun, or for even being white. Why should I feel guilty that my parents were white? Then every election year like lemmings we are pressured to run full speed off either a republican or democrat/socialist cliff following our political allegiances before considering God's Truth.
We are afraid of the fight if we are political, pro-Israel, or against Sharia Law lest we be labeled a Islamophobe. Please I am not one of THOSE Christians. I am a good person, who never makes waves.. I am like Jesus who is about love.. remember? All this pressure to conform and fear of a fight with our society railing against traditional Christian values melts many into doing their best Piglet of Winnie the Pooh fame (a devout pacifist).. as we fret and worry stammering “Oh d-dear, oh d-dear!!.
But let's slow down and consider a couple examples from our Bibles.
David, leveled the giant Goliath, and cut off his head for daring to mock God. There was no peace negotiations with the enemy of God, and there was victory for David standing up against this Pagan.
and the best example..
Jesus the Son of God...
To summarize the example of Jesus, and how this should set with his church.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated Jesus before it hated you. If you are of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but Jesus chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19
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.
Most likely we are not called to a literal bloody nose like fight, or to be the church version of Antifa.. but never EVER back down from living and teaching God's truth.
Important Note: Picking a Fight is also the fight for THOSE IN NEED, and the LOST? What good is our faith if it is only about our own well being?
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
May God bless each of us today as we pursue and defend God’s truth. May God smile at, and bless our sincere efforts to serve Him and others, and lovingly correct us when we fall… and may God bless us and use us in ways that are BEYOND OUR DREAMS.
Jeff (bruise like a peach) Larson
note: With us all in the fight for God's Truth, let's calm down the internal fights in the church. We should stand for God's word to be honored in the church and while there are differences in the body.. The cry of "heretic" is overused by those we differ with.
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!
Back to school begins traditionally the day after Labor day in America. Parents, students, and teachers transition from vacations, picnics, and the beach to a world of chalk dust, text books, report cards, and a possible trip to the principle's office.
CHALK DUST bites the DUST
Of course chalk dust is becoming a part of old school urban legend. I-Pads and smart phones are the tools (and distractions) of today's student. They say.. You are only as smart as your smartphone?
Then the timeless excuse 'My dog ate my homework" has been upgraded for our high speed high tech society with.. "my wi-fi was down", or "a computer virus ate my homework". Also, Notes passed between students has been replaced by texting, browsing the web, and/or social media posts.
My wife Mary is a school teacher who taught for 10+ in the public schools before moving to a small Christian school these last 3 years. A teacher is truly how God wired by wife as you can tell by the hours she spends prepping or talking teacher talk with her other teacher peeps. Now this year I have started a new job as a school bus driver. What a treasure trove of new cartoon ideas I have wandered into. I hope to share some of these very soon, but in the mean time..
God bless all of you gifted educators in the public school systems (you are so important), but for my wife she could not be happier where she is now still teaching the 3 Rs, but blending this with a Christian world view, prayer, and worship of the God of our Bibles. Truth be told it has become as much of a ministry as an occupation as evidenced by her pay cut moving from the public school system.
My Prayer of Blessing for all you dedicated educators (public & private, primary & secondary) 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.
My Prayer of Concern for public schools is for the language and tone not minimize or apologize for our nation's Christian heritage. Public Schools in their determined quest to remain NEUTRAL in matters of faith have instead become NEUTERED in respect to our Christian heritage. While there is no question we are all to respect the differing faiths of others but it's a MISTAKE to become so SECULARIZED that we are void of God.
The Pledge and Patriotism
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 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.
I am seriously miffed at a movement in the 'progressive' Christian community that has a problem with God and Nation. Again, read the pledge.. one nation UNDER God.
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. When our nation and/or schools compromise Psalms 33:12 there in lies the erosion of all God intends for His people.
May God bless all of you educators this coming year. Be faithful and sensitive to God in your lives as He leads you. Good Teachers are a true blessing to the foundation of our country!
Jeff (semi-educated/bus drivin') Larson
note: For a complete look at all things school from a Back Pew perspective, click here-> SCHOOL
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 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 my freaky fast food faith moments (sometimes that is all I have), BUT how much better my perspective is when I slow down and savor quiet times with my Heavenly Father. Prayers that are not distracted and hurried, and devotions that are not fit in just before I go to bed and can hardly keep my eyes open. To slow down is good for my soul, and I am 'gently' convicted/impressed that I need this now.
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. Maybe a home cooked God's Family Meal... with desert.
Hmm.. I am getting hungry.
May God bless and use each of you for His glory in SUPERSIZED ways
Jeff (McBack Pew) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson