Cliff notes on Cliffs - Umm, don't jump off .. cliffs?
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.
Dangerous Roads are.. umm dangerous too!
Matthew 7:13 shares.. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
So far, you are thinking.. Thank you Captain Obvious.
OK so far we have.. 1. dangerous roads.. 2. a steep cliffs.. 3. a sea far below our cliff crashing into the rocky coastline .. sounds like the infamous LEMMING 'pilgrimage'.
Being a literal lemming is nothing to brag about. They are part of the rodent family and their claim to fame (or infamy) is for their suicidal cliff diving method of population control.
A figurative Lemming implies you follow the crowd, a bit oblivious to consequences. To be a lemming on face value is the easy way. Just fit in with everyone else.. and don't make waves.. until you ironically fall to the crashing waves below. Note.. we all have a little lemming in us.
In our Lemming society it is easy to follow the crowd. From fashion, fads, political views, sports teams, peer pressure are all factors as we get in line for our cliff run. Even in the church where we are called to be different.. we don't want to be TOO different.
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.. Quit acting like a cliff diving lemmings.
Too often 'Christians' apologize, go silent, or become embarrassed rather than stand up for Jesus. We fit too nicely in this crass society, waste money like our neighbors, keep up with the Jones's as much as humanly possible leaving little time or money to honestly love God or care for others.
AND when we see other lemmings on an eternity path other than Heaven.. we may not join them, but we certainly do not stop them as they head towards the cliff.
AND.. wham bam next thing we realize we too are on that path to a secular society cliff riddled with lemming droppings. God is not anywhere near where these lemmings are, and how did we end up so far down the path and close to the cliff's edge?
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 us along to where we never intended. I pray we remember we are here to honor God with our lives. We are here to please God,, not man.
May God bless and lead each of you today. Be still and listen for his leading, read his Word, seek his will and obey God only.
Jeff (just say NO to Lemmings) Larson
Deep thought of the Day.. If it looks like a lemming, runs like a lemming, and smells like a lemming.. it's probably a .. LEMMING.
final note: With regards to this year 2020.. most of us will agree this year should take a flying leap off a cliff! Don't think it works that way, but I can still wish.
"I am off to pick a fight." is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies.. ‘BraveHeart’.. not to be confused with Brave-Bird.
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 2020 unless they are like the Billy Graham Crusades. Billy Graham is good and I don't remember him with a bloody nose.
Others will say.."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 (or ill prepared for a fight).. afraid to stand for our FAITH. 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 'the pacifist' of Winnie the Pooh fame.. 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 2020 Note: This is NOT an endorsement of the so-called peaceful protests of 2020. All this misguided SJW angst turned rage mob is not of God. So put down that brick... AND instead be ready and willing to Pick a Fight for and/or Serve 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.
I have a continued concern for the American Church that is caught between THE ROCK and a HARD WORLD.
This WORLD mocks Christians as
In response, THE CHURCH claims our ROCK is Jesus... and sing 'A Mighty Fortress is our God', but our knees shake as we become hyper-introspective based more on the world's judging lens instead of God's loving truth.
We apologize and/or hide our views when God's unchanging truths do not fit nicely with our secular society. We go mostly silent as not to stir the anti-Christian hornet's nest world view. We don't like people to call us names.. who would. So we become like a deer caught in society's pious headlights and honking horns.
This HARD WORLD demonstrates a compromised view of a life equally cynical of Christians and mocking of our God.
"The Church is more afraid of offending the world than offending God". - A W Tozer
So the choice is ours. Serve God or appease man. Stand up for God's Truth or attend a Sunday Social club we call church and live our muted lives as Christians in name only.
Only one life 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last. - Charles Studd
Truth is GOD'S TRUTH is not lost... not in the Church, not in the world. God cares deeply both for his church and for a world that does not know him.
This is our opportunity to make a difference not just attending church but being the church.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col 3:17
Oh we will stumble but get back up again where Jesus is our Rock while living in this Hard World. Don't be caught in between THE ROCK and this HARD WORLD. Instead stand on THE ROCK. Psalms 18:2
I pray as always His church (we the people) turn daily to God, seek Him first,.. love HIm with our lives, serve Him in all that we do, and love and care others like Jesus did. May God find us faithful, bless us, and use us in ways that are beyond our dreams and for His Glory only.
side note: See below a good barometer for life.
“Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most;
2. What we think about most;
3. How we use our money;
4. What we do with our leisure time;
5. The company we enjoy;
6. Who and what we admire;
7. What we laugh at.”
― A. W. Tozer
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
I love Matthew 6: 5-15, where Jesus teaches how we should pray, and I return to it often to remind me how I could better pray.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Those are the beautiful calm words of Jesus on prayer and the power of prayer. In contrast this world plows forward without purpose like an rusty old truck without a muffler, blowing it's horn, leaking motor oil while all ready being two quarts low. This world is distracting, and without prayer, without our Lord this life does not go well.
So this brings me to a lazy Saturday morning where I was discussing life with my wife while eating an egg with toast, and drinking my daily allotment of coffee. Mary is a school teacher anxiously preparing for school that starts next week. Also in our conversation Mary shared about a little baby boy born last week with some serious health unknowns. With this in mind and other issues in life we decided we should pray.
As I started to pray out loud, our dog Cooper sniffed over to Mary's breakfast plate she was holding and started licking it. Mary moved the plate across her body, but Cooper was happy to move too. So she then stacked it on the table out of reach. As we chuckled I continued to pray only to be drowned out by loud engine sounds like on a race track from not too far away. There are no race tracks near me but a classic car show was being held that day, and while a classic car show sounds like fun, it was distracting. We chuckled again, then Cooper heard a neighbors car, a chipmunk crossing our yard, and/or maybe a gathering of 'nefarious cat lovers' up to no good at the end of the block. No matter what it was he ran to the door barking. We chuckled again, calmed our dog, and continued to pray.. finally my wife inserted. AMEN.
It was funny, but we did persevere though if there was an angel nearby my wife and I could have been pulled over and ticketed for 'Praying while Distracted'. Sorta like distracted driving for our prayer lives.
Now while this distracted prayer did not fit nicely into the Lord's teachings in Matthew 6 I know this sometimes is how our prayers look. I confess too often my prayers are fit into my day without setting aside a time to be QUIET. Yes this world's dogs may bark, the engines roar, there is 24/7 entertainment and news available to us on our literal fingertips via our smartphones, TV, and the internet calling for our attention, but I know I should do a better job of being quiet, and pursuing God in this quiet.
Again read.. Mt 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I am not at all saying, those quick prayers, and impromptu conversations with God are wrong. I am simply wanting to encourage us to seek our Lord in the quiet without distractions using Matthew 6 as our model. Let the dogs bark, phones rings, and the world rage all while finding God's people quietly pursuing to be obedient to the Lord, and not man.
May God bless each of you with a relationship with Him where your prayers become adoring conversations with our creator. May we seek and are blessed with the quiet alone times with our God knowing He hears our prayers.
Jeff (distracted in the Back Pew) Larson
As a sophomore in High School I was mistakenly selected as a runner for our varsity cross country team. In response to this challenge I finished..LAST in my very first race. I could not see even with superman vision see a trace of the runner I saved from being last. I was quickly demoted to the Junior Varsity team for the rest of the season as I simply was not physically a strong enough runner to compete with varsity athletes.
My senior year I returned to cross country running with the goal of conditioning for the upcoming basketball. I ran JV again while the varsity team made it all the way to run in the State Finals finishing 6th. Me on the other hand was an alternate for the state team but then broke my BIG TOE in a pick up game and.. missed most of the entire basketball season. Hence, my high school accomplishments as an runner were underwhelming.
At this point in my young life.. running is treating me badly! Running is not my friend... UNTIL
Then the running community was all a buzz (not really) as I returned to competitive distance running by participating in MY FIRST MARATHON. Yes, on October 4th, 2009 I participated in and completed the Twin Cities Marathon. Thank you, thank you.
Ok, let me clarify, I participated as a fan only cheering on my daughter in law Laura and her sister Erin, BUT HEY.. it was a long day for me too.
There were several times where I did not think I would make it as I drank too much coffee at the different mile stops and the lines to the porta-pots were long. BUT.. in the last few miles we drove to a local restaurant where I sat down to eat some sweet potato fries with my wife, daughter and son at mile 21. After this much needed nourishment I could see the finish line was in my reach, and so completed my first marathon just over 5 hours after I first began.
Admittedly watching the Twin Cities Marathon, and running it are not the same thing, but let me share that I was tired, and did go home and take a nap.
Marathon Runners: Now on to those who do like to 'say' they like to run. I once had a pastor friend who has run many a marathon. My good friend Bryan Anderson combines long distance races with winter weather by participating in cross country ski races. Hmm .. COLD WEATHER + ENDURANCE SPORTS.. in my way of looking at it.. 'two negatives do not equal a postive'... and 2 wrongs don't make a right. Bryan's brother Jim has ran marathons in all 50 states, as well as marathons in other parts of the world including China.
While most of us have not run one marathon kudos to those who have. BUT for runners and non-runners alike we need to all be about what the Apostle Paul describes as... Running the Good Race.. but I take this scripture as an excellent spiritual metaphor.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Cor 9:24
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. Acts 20:24
I do remember the discipline of training for Cross Country races in High School. I did not enjoy it and was not a gifted runner, but it did prepare me for the upcoming races. The exhaustion and pain found in training and competing I would not call it happy, but it was satisfying when I found I was prepared for the competition.
Very much in the same way to prepare my body, mind, and soul to run this life for God takes discipline. It will be met with hardships, and the race will not be easy. This secular world has IMO is against (not just indifferent to) Christians. To be faithful to our God in these days and in the year 2020 is a race that we must take serious. This is not the time to stop off for sweet potato fries at mile marker 21. This is a time to press on and to honor God with all the moments that make up our days. In all things TO GOD BE THE GLORY
So this completes my running ramble. This is not a call to be sedentary, but this is a time to run the good race and fight the good fight.
May God find us all faithful, and REMEMBER running is a spiritual metaphor.. no need to buy new running shoes.
Jeff (Happy Trails) Larson
THIS LIFE is filled with awkward moments. For example,
Ok, TMI I know, but in reading my Bible I discover I am not the only one with awkward moments to deal with.
There were miracles a plenty.. in my Bible leaving mouths hanging open speechless at the power of God. But of course as a cartoonist and self-declared humorist awkward silence in between the verses retelling these stories are a fine place for a awkward one-liners. For example, when..
all of the above and more from the the very pages of our Bibles cry.. AWKWARD!
BUT.. that was THEN.. This is NOW
The above are just a few moments that make me collectively cringe, smirk, and then realize the more things change the more they stay the same.
Today's world is still so very awkward in response to this life and God. We as Christians are to be in this world but not to be of this world, but awkwardly we attempt to do both. We reason.. 'Jesus is love so I should be about loving others'.. BUT.. in doing so we embrace the sins of this world. AWKWARD.
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19
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. Romans 12:2
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
So I pray we all stand strong for our God.. unwavering examples of His truth, and do so in love. To stand faithful in our words and deeds is to honor God and be a testimony to mankind.
May God bless and use each of you this day in ways that are beyond your dreams and even in the awkward moments of life.
Jeff (sitting awkwardly in the Back Pew) Larson
Today, I am sharing a memory from a couple summers before all things COVID-19 when LIFE began FLASHING before my eyes.
Life Flashing before my eyes..
In 7 short days I have experienced highs and lows, laughter and tears, life and death. I know most of all of us have weeks like this, but last week was my turn.
On Tuesday August 9th my Aunt Marie passed away unexpectedly at the age of 87. She was very special to me, Marie (known as Babe) was loved and will be missed of course by family and friends. We all grieve and are sad for our loss, but celebrate her arrival to Heaven where she is reunited with family, friends, and most importantly JESUS.
This is the paradox of the Christian experience where our existence moves from life on Earth, to death, then to Eternity in Heaven for those who love the Lord.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelations 21:4
Then Friday morning August 10th my long awaited (9+ months) expected third granddaughter Reagan Holland Larson arrived. SHE'S A KEEPER!
This of course is the best kind of news, and holding her the following morning was a perfect healing touch for my grieving heart.
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL.. Over these same 7 days my wife's family were in town for a reunion. There are six siblings in the Laun family.. ages 83, 82, 79, 77, 60, while my wife is the itsy bitsy BABY at age 57.
All six siblings were here with their spouses along with a smattering of kids and grandkids. Activities included sight seeing, a picnic, paddle boat ride on the Mississippi, and a (heart attack free )baseball game of sorts with players ranging from age 6 through 77.
This was a great time of celebrating family and heritage. All are doing well and actually still like each other. - Who knew families still like each other these days. -
Health of all siblings is good, but if some nefarious sort targeting senior citizens robbed us the highlight of their booty would selling our hearing aides on the black market. The only negative me spending that many days with Mary's family is that I ate waaay too much. I know, I don't have to eat so much, but.. mind your own business.
So there you have it, what a week. Life Flashing before my eyes? .. or as Mufasa from the Lion King explains.. This is the Circle of Life.
This Life is messy, including roller coaster moments wanting you to exit the ride, or 'hurl'. From birth through the family reunions to that day until this ride stops .. this life is a gift from God.
If you don't know Jesus, if you don't have a relationship with God.. now is the time to say YES to Him. Say YES acknowledging Him as savior of your life, and giving Him the proper place in your life. This life is flashing and will be gone before you know it.. then eternity.
I pray we all choose wisely, it matters eternally.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
May God bless each of your lives with joy in your journey. Remember always to love God, enjoy the big and little things of this life, love &care for others with the promise of someday Heaven for those who love Him. Because this life is FLASHING and then in the blink of an eye .. eternity.
update: Now 2 years later and life is still messy but good. My now 2 year old beautiful granddaughter Reagan has a smile that melts me. All my sibling-inlaws are doing well, and God is so good even in this most ugly of years 2020.
What happened? Was I out for 5 minutes when everything changed? Didn't up used to be up and down .. down.. not the other way around? And I am pretty sure too that WRONG is now the new RIGHT.
Let's start with a few easy Wrongs declared Right from where I sit observing our society.
So you see.. Wrong is the new Right.
We are numbed and dumbed down to vulgar language and violence in movies, TV, and pop/hip hop/rap music. Sex before marriage, and teen sexuality is assumed not discouraged.. in fact sex without boundaries is encouraged. Everyone claims to be a victim, or bullied which muddies truth of those who truly are victims and/or bullied. AND anyone who voices a contrary view is expressing HATE SPEECH.
The #MeToo movement, terms like toxic masculinity, white privilege, systemic racism, and systemic police brutality often dilute if not poison truth and justice. Note: There is only God's Truth & God's Justice and it is for all. Then we throw the old KKK in with the new rage (literally) Antifa (anti-fascists? not!). They are nothing more than masked domestic terrorists. And BLM black lives matter is a statement that is true just as all lives matter, but the organization BLM is a Marxist hate group.
We are a culture who on one hand munch on popcorn while being entertained by horror, violence, the occult, or the sorted story of a serial killer, BUT.. think that our 2nd amendment rights are the root of all evil. Wrong is new Right.
Now in 2020 the Wrong is the new Right has been amped up with the reality of Covid-19. I will not go into my opinion about what should or should not be done, but I will say it has divided us.. and divided the church. We too quickly condemn each other over this virus. We can't just disagree on the solution we decide to label each other naive or selfish.. and these feelings become something maybe just short of hate. This is Wrong, but this Wrong is also the new Right.
Even in the church simple choices of right and wrong are more carefully handled than a suicide vest by a bomb squad whose only training was using the old 'Operation board game'. We are so deathly afraid to call sin.. a sin in fear others will judge us as judgmental.
My concern/observation is The church (as a whole) is 1/2 afraid to speak truth in love afraid of the mess it may cause, and the other 1/2 appears to be like the frog in the boiling pan of water slowly cooking in our new boiling Baptismal Jacuzzi unaware the temp is rising. We are no longer salt and light as commanded in Mt 5:13-16, but excuse this compromise with the broad brushed statement.. We are about love, Jesus is love.
I agree Jesus is love, but his love included speaking directly about sin. He may have called the religious leaders a brood of vipers, but he also lovingly spoke truth to the woman at the well. How would Jesus have been loving if he did not speak the whole truth? In fact I believe Jesus referenced Hell 46 times. Hell is the scary truth regarding sin.
Same with Paul, he was loving but so direct about sin not because it was on his legalistic DO NOT DO list but because sin is harmful to the body and soul.
Let's even be more basic about TRUTH. We as Christians believe there is one way to Heaven and that is Jesus. To share this truth should be the most important truth we can share. BUT agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, etc would disagree. So do we quit sharing this truth because it might offend.. but let them go to Hell?
Do we just gently say, well we all believe generally in the same thing 'higher power' so.. peace be still.. Or remain silent because I respect your feelings so much that I would rather let you go to Hell for eternity than offend you today on Earth. This is so very Wrong, and.. the new Right
I also believe there is a growing population in the church that doubt the Inerrancy of the Scriptures. It's understandable to have questions on Bible issues we do not understand, but it is alarming to doubt that it is truly God's word. -Insert Head Slap here-
MY OWN MESS - Let me be very clear, I am such a sinner.. aka made 'lotsa' mistakes. I have trouble with my temper, watched movies and laughed at jokes I should not have. I have made compromises, told altered truths (aka lies) and all the other goodies that many of us do.
I am also a man who compromised too many years with alcohol (aka alcoholic), and it was ruining my life. I share the cartoon on the left that is typically received understandably with collective cringes as it is NOT FUNNY, but it is was becoming my story.
So in response to my drinking my wife expressed to me in love and sometimes the appropriate amount of anger "YOU NEED TO QUIT DRINKING. This is not good for you, it is not good for your family." So my question is.. was my wife intolerant and judgmental of me as a person, or was she directly and loving me tell me my alcohol use was hurting me and my family?
Well, I believe I would be dead now if I continued drinking. And.. to be honest I did not always welcome her words and would soften them by saying I would do better next time, but bottom-line my wife's loving admonishment CHANGED MY LIFE. I thank God for my wife and my three adult kids who lovingly told me truth. Changing a Wrong in my life to make me return to doing Right.
So in this world where WRONG is the new RIGHT how shall we participate? In our society compromised by ignorance, arrogance, and self we need to stand firm, in love and always stand for God's Truth.. because as they say.. Two Wrongs don't make a Right.
May God bless each of you to boldly go each day into a world that may hate you for saying RIGHT is still right, and WRONG is still wrong.
Thank you for indulging me sharing this topic of societal angst that is on my heart.
I Remember back when I was 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 (almost) 63 year old chest, not my gut it puffs out on it's own) but I was not that kid. I loved sports and 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, 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.
Noah was Mr. 'if you build it they will come'. These were 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, an Ark in the desert.
Abraham was a spry 75 years old or so when called by God to pack up the Winnebago (figuratively speaking) and hit the road.
So much for the Golden Years. "I will make you a mighty nation you." Thus saith 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' app for his smartphone then he did not know how this was going to happen.
Moses, the exiled (for murder) prince of Egypt is working in a land far far away as an overqualified sheep tender 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 but do I have a job for you." - Thus saith the Lord.
I don't know about you, but I would not have chosen a guy on the run for murder who smells like sheep.
Speaking of sheep, how about the Shepherd boy chosen by God to slay Golaith, and later becomes king!
A 5'8" 145 lb Junior College linebacker has a better chance trying out for the Chicago Bears than David did in defeating a Giant.
The safe money was all bet on Goliath, but God chose David and that is what mattered.
Then off to the New Testament..
How about the choosing of who would be the mother of our Savior. Mary was blessed among woman and obedient to God. Jesus father would be carpenter. Our Heavenly Father picked Mary and Joseph to be mother and father of Jesus.
Then we have the choosing of the 12 disciples. Budding theologians they were not. Jesus chose a bunch of fisherman and a few other rag tag everyday folk to be with him as the Gospel message of salvation was shared.
How about that moment when the thief asked Jesus to remember him in Heaven.
"This very day you will be with me in paradise." were the words spoken by Jesus to the thief on the cross shortly before he died.
The spiritual resume of this thief from what we know was pretty light, but that is how big God's Grace is.
Now it's time to choose an Apostle to lead to share the gospel message to the world. Who would God choose #1 in the very first 'Missionary Gospel Draft'?
The number one pick is Saul of Tarsus.. Saul? The same Saul who recently could be found attending the stoning of Stephen? Yep, that Saul. Yes God chose Saul aka Paul. That is all that mattered.
"Saul why do you persecute me?" were the blunt words of Jesus from a blinding light while Saul was on the road to Damascus.
"I've got good news and bad news. First the bad news.. your cushy leader of the Pharisees job is going away. The good news.. You will be my very first Missionary." - Thus saith the Lord.
I may be going out on a limb, but I don't see many literal burning bushes, or blinding lights on my horizon, but I do believe I am chosen and capable.
Not that it makes sense based on our relative and limited qualifications, but in fact we are all chosen by our loving Heavenly Father. Chosen not only to be a part of God's Kingdom, but also to serve in big and small ways.
So do not keep God in a box, and 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.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson