In my collection of cartoon topics I have boldly cartooned where man should not cartoon.. the topics of dating and marriage. Ok maybe boldly is not the right word .. maybe I foolishly cartoon to a land of THIN ICE.
So walk with me today, but tread lightly because.. HELLO.. the ice is THIN... the water is COLD.. and you will go DOWN.
THIN ICE is found.. where a man..
1. Speaks words he should not speak,
2. Does things or does not do things he should or should not do, and/or
3. Thinks things he should not think. SHE WILL KNOW!
You may say well that is confusing. What I say or don't say.. what I do or don't do, and even what I think could put me THIN ICE? Of course for all men who are in or have been in a relationship with a woman you know the answer is YES, but you may not always know how you got there until you hear the ice cracking.
Even after being married almost 36 years I still find ways to test for thin ice. Sometimes this is by mistake as 'who can understand the mind of the fairer sex'.
side note: Why are women called the fairer sex when guys continue to get in trouble without a definitive list of dos & don'ts, say & don't say.. and thinks. I mean, guys who play sports know the rules, so why isn't that way in marriage? - end of side note -
But back to being married almost 36 years. There are other times where I test the ice and even intentionally step out further on the ice.. knowing it is thin but having a bit of RUSH testing it out. I think I like the feeling of living dangerously.. You know, see how far I can go. But I would not advise this to any man in the first 20 years of marriage .. this is simply too risky. Correction, do not test thin ice in the first 30 years.. ok, don't test it at all, only test thin ice if you consider yourself a professional LIKE ME.
It matters not if you are a slender 125 pound fella or a ' big boned' 350 pounds..Both men and all men of all shapes and sizes know.. THE ICE IS THIN & UNFORGIVING.
There, I have exhausted my words so let me finish out today's blog with a few illustrations. You know they say a picture is worth 1,000 words. So a cartoon should be worth 250-500 words by my estimate.
For more examples of Man Dancing on Thin Ice.. visit my Dating & Marriage page where life imitates art... or is it cartoon imitates life.
May God bless and use each of you today in ways that are beyond your dreams.. even if you wander on THIN ICE.
DISCLAIMER.. This is just a silly post of a fictitious fella BEFORE all things COVID-19. Since then the Glacial reopening of churches in Minnesota has me willing 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 restricts 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 I digress.. remember a time when all the churches were open. Fundementalists, Catholics, Lutherans, to Pentecostal and everything in between 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, but the point is remember a time where you could go ANYWHERE that fits your denominational bent. Ah, the good ol' days where have they gone?
So onward and forward I go to days of yesteryear (ok, yestermonth) where some guy (not me) does not want to go to church. His attitude and thoughts are captured below..
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!” My Social Media apps are calling too with Sunday morning memes and silly cat pictures.. psst, did you see this one. .. and how else am I going to stay informed if I don't get my news from 'friends' posting on Social Media.
AND.. The coffee is brewing, and it called out 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 was ready for ..no-action.
Now I am a good Christian man, 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 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, and the sports section.
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 other 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 people.. SAINTS they AINT.
So off we go to church leaving my Sunday morning paper and my coffee at home. “goodbye paper! Goodbye coffee!”… We have often traveled this familiar road to that familiar church with a backseat loaded with our darlin’ children who set the mood by bickering and fighting the whole blessed drive to church… which put me SOOO in the mood to worship. NOT! So here I drive on lamenting 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 do have coffee.. but it is not STARBUCKS, or even Folgers. I like my coffee strong and black, 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, and a couple cups of this brew only makes the service to come only seem more unbearable.
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!! scratching myself anywhere I itch… BUT I DIGRESS… again!
The Worship Leader at church 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.
The offering/guilt plate is of course passed which I with a smirk said..”no thanks, I am trying to cut back on giving.”
My smirk moves to a cringe at the sight of the preacher as he saunters up to the pulpit… armed only with one lapel microphone and the word of God… both which he seems to overuse.
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!
So there you have it. I do hope and pray there are jewels in my crown someday when I get to Heaven because on this day.. I WAS AT CHURCH worshiping with the saints when I wanting to be home worshiping God in my own way with my new VR Church System.
signed some anonymous guy
Now, I must say again. I am not that guy. In fact I was in church today happy to be worshiping with other believers who while respectful of Covid concerns was open. It was refreshing to be back in church.
America is not back to normal, but I pray we are smart, careful, but unafraid as we gather together as we are commanded by scriptures to do.
May God bless you all today even if you resemble the above mentioned anonymous guy.
I was in our master bathroom where around the bathroom vanity there were 29 separate items.. four of which were mine. I have a razor, toothbrush, deodorant, and toothpaste (the toothpaste I share with my wife).. the rest belong to my bride.
Included in the other 25 or so items is a bag of makeup… so in reality the total is much more one sided. BUT.. if I trim my beard and a few whiskers are left around the sink.. the countenance of my bride darkens… but
do I ever complain about ‘OUR’ bathroom vanity covered with a cosmetology collective of spray bottles, brushes, lip STUFF, hair dryers and the like?? <pause>
Oh wait, I guess I am now.. BUT NOT TO HER FACE… so that does not count.
This brings me to a similar subject .. a ‘WOMAN'S PURSE’.
To me this is much like a Magician’s Hat.. where my wife will ask me for example to get her car keys from her purse for her. I cringe as I know THIS WILL NOT BE EASY.. so with my mouth hanging open, and my brow furrowed I look inside into the unending collection of ‘necessities’.. A LADY'S LABYRINTH of no end!
Even though her purse is very typical in size.. when you look inside it seems to go on forever. I finally closed my eyes, reached in and pulled out a rabbit, but no car keys. She then smirks, reached in her purse without taking her eyes off me and retrieves her keys with a look that said to me “are you blind?”
Another time when looking for a blessed stick of gum I caught a glimpse of what I believe was a secret passage to the Land of Narnia behind her cellphone, tic tacs, and what appeared to be a magnum 44 hand gun.. but I found the gum became distracted and lost sight of this Narnia portal.
Also, there is a third mystery I would like to share..
With my razor, toothbrush, deodorant, and a clean pair of jeans I can be ready for church in less than 15 minutes from shower to starting the car.. while my wife the process is a tad longer.. A REALLY BIG TAD. I mean.. Mary must choose between outfits to wear, and does not use the guy-proven method of preparation which is … wear what is clean OR.. do the quick smell test if we are not sure if that shirt left on the floor the other week is still ok for a little Sunday morning hand raising. Then again, Mary does look and smell better than me... but if it were a race, the safe money is on me.
So what is my spiritual message today? <insert refelctive pause here> Maybe if for no other reason man and woman are meant for each other so.. guys don't go to church dressed like the fella in the above picture.. and men are good for woman to.. umm.. to.. umm.. kill protect the fairer sex from mice and spiders?
That's all I got, I am drawing a blank.
Seriously, may God bless and use each of you today in ways that are beyond your dreams. For you ladies may you find your bathroom vanities whisker free, and your man willing and able to navigate the Estrogen Ocean of your purse without making any comments.
Jeff (Survivor on Estrogen Island) Larson
Lions and Tigers and Bears.. OH MY! The Bible is full of stories and lessons regarding animals and their place in this world.
In Genesis: Adam named the animals, a snake tempted Eve, there was a boat load of animals for Noah, and a few overlooked. Even Pharoah dreamed about..
How about Balaam's Talking Donkey.. before the famous Mr. Ed
Next came the rules regarding sheep and bulls and the proper way to prepare them and not one rule had anything to do with marinating them on a grill. This all led to the Leviticus Livestock Revolt.
Later in the OT Samson plays rough with a Lion, Daniel smirks at a Den full of hungry lions, and Jonah was eaten and spitup by a fish that was on the WILD SIDE 4 SURE.
The New Testament:..starts with sheep as bit players at the birth of Jesus. Some of these wooly creatures were helpful while others had a decidedly baaaa-d attitude
Christ's ministry is marked when the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove at the time he was baptized. This was to the dismay and envy of Vinny the Vulture. Later we find cliff diving pigs.. The prodigal son ate with a large hog named AbraHAM until he returned home to the fatted calf.
The temple was cleared by Jesus of those who were dealing 'birds'. and.. On Palm Sunday Jesus entered the city on a donkey which was the envy of all donkey-dom.
The End Times prophesies in the book of Revelation include the 4 horsemen riding on of course 4 horses.
Today: We have cats, dogs, and little birds who can't keep secrets. In Minnesota wildlife includes Mooses and Mosquitoes. If you say Mosquitoes are not animals then you have not been to Minnesota.
In My Life: I have owned many dogs and even a few cats over the years providing us with both goo memories and not so good ones. Right now my wife and I have one rescue dog named Cooper. He must have had a rough life before coming to us because he is a bit wary of men, but we love him quirks and all. He knows in the end he is well cared for. Dare I say.. blessed beyond his doggie dreams.
May God bless each of you this day with good friends, a good church, and dogs that neither chew your slippers or 'dooties' in your house. May your cats be hairball free, and you hamsters content running in those little wheel things... and may we all simply be found to be WILD or DOMESTICATED for Jesus.
Happy Fathers Day to all you dads! It is a fine day and I look forward to it each year to remember my good dad who passed away I believe now 18 years ago... and hopefully to be remembered by my 3 kids for being an OK dad too.
As I share frequently my dad passed away a few years back. While I do miss him I also recognize him as the source of my strange sense of humor, and my quirky personality of what I like to call 'being an introvert trapped in a world full of people.'
For example, a few years back I was joking around with my then 15 year old daughter Erin trying to get a rise out of her. She laughed and said “Dad you are so weird.” I replied.. “Weird like my daughter.” Of course she blamed her odd sense of humor on me since her mom’s sense of humor is more traditional. To console her I said… “You know this strange sense of humor comes from Grandpa Larson.” Then after a short pause while we both nodded.. I spoke again like I was my dad saying.. “Oh sure, blame the dead guy.” Then Erin and I chuckled over me saying that for the next several minutes. So there you have it.. my dad was the guy with a quiet dry sense of humor and irony and is to blame for .. ME.. and my daughter Erin!
I also give him credit for teaching me the art of ‘good natured’ teasing/pestering. Please don’t confuse this with mean spirited or cruel teasing, it was more like.. pestering to get a rise out of someone or a situation but NEVER to disrespect someone or embarrass.
It is the type of good natured needling that friends and family do to show they like each other. Well at least my family does this.
My dad was a kind man with a big heart and an appreciation for the simple pleasures in life. No one ever confused him with being a theologian , philosopher , or a CEO of any corporation except Walter Larson Logging.. BUT everyone knew my dad was a good man, and I knew my dad was proud of me, and believed in me even in my less than bright and shining moments.
So what greater reward can I have on Fathers Day then to know I was blessed with a good father who taught me the important lessons in life about family, friends, and seeing the best in others. If.. IF someday (hopefully today) this would be my legacy for my kids and nothing else.. this too would make me smile.
My dad never left me a fortune to inherit unless he put it in a lunch box and buried it in the woods (and never told me where!), and at my present rate.. my kids are not inheriting much except a hard drive full of cartoons , a hundred or so unsold mosquito and snoahs ark t-shirts, and my kneaded eraser.
BUT.. what I desire to give them is what my dad gave me. A home with love, laughter, good coffee, and good food … and most importantly ‘a personal faith in the God of our Bibles’.
May God bless each of you this Fathers Day. May God provide healing and peace in those hurting relationships, AND love and humble appreciation for those who had or have is so good like me.
Jeff (Father & Grandfather) Larson
If you sneeze, I will politely respond "Bless you." If you sneeze again.. you are on your own as I adhere to a strict one blessing per sneezer rule. This is not negotiable.
But sneeze blessings are not the topic of the day instead a Father’s Blessings, and ultimately God’s blessings. These blessings I want, and like I say often in The Back Pew .. ‘BlESSED beyond my DREAMS’. I want Prayer of Jabez supersized blessings.
It seems just like a chapter ago Isaac was just a boy, but now in Genesis 25 Isaac is all grown up and with his wife Rebecca has twin boys. The first to enter the world was Esau, and right on his heel literally (Ge. 25:25) was Jacob.
These boys were like so many brothers as they were very different from each other. Esau grew up to be a scruffy/hairy outdoors type who loved to hunt. Jacob on the other hand was not scruffy, and liked to hang out in the kitchen with maybe a reputation as a mamma's boy.
The Father's Blessing
Next we are introduced to the power of the Father’s Blessing, and especially the blessings set aside for the first born in this case.. by beating brother Jacob in the 'birth canal dash' was scruffy/hairy Esau.
I am not sure how or why they worked the way they did in the Old Testament, but it seems like the 'Father’s blessing' had the power to make or break the future of the ‘blessee’. It was like winning the family inheritance lottery.. and there were no TAKE BACKS.
The Blessing Plot Thickens
So one day Esau comes in from hunting famished and is met by his brother Jacob. Esau is so desperate for food, that Jacob talks Esau out of his birthright since Esau replies, "what good is my birth right if I die today from starvation."
note: It appears Esau was a great hunter, but a bit of a drama queen.
I don’t know exactly follow how the whole birthright and blessing stuff worked in those days, but I am thinking this birthright transfer should have required a signed agreement witnessed and stamped by a notary public.
ie The first party (Esau) agrees to relinquish his future blessing reserved for the first born to the second party (Jacob) in exchange for one bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.
Esau sign here
Jacob sign here
Notary sign here
Date enter today's date
I am not sure if today this birthright exchange for soup arrangement would hold up even in front of Judge Judy, but in Genesis 25 it set the stage for the Ol' Birthright SWITCHEROO.
Isaac is very old!
As the story continues, their father Isaac is getting very old, he is nearly blind and his health is failing. Isaac recognizing his days on this earth are numbered and so wants to give his blessing to his first born son Esau before he hears Heaven's Angels singing 'Happy Trails to you'. and 'When the Roll is called up Yonder'.
So Isaac asks Esau to hunt, and then fix him some wild game for him and at that time he will give Esau his blessing.
Well, Rebecca overhears this and wants this blessing to got to her favorite son (and kitchen apprentice) Jacob. So while Esau is out hunting, she comes up with a planso simple, so ingenious, but with more than a hint of .. WHAT?
Mom schemes to put animal skins on Jake’s arms to appear hairy like his brother Esau.
As strange as this sounds.. this plan works and Isaac though he was suspicious thought it was Esau, and in the end gives Jacob THE BLESSING OF THE FIRST BORN. The Ol' Birthright SWITCHEROO is complete!
Of course being a cartoonist, and a dog owner I wonder.. WHAT IF the FAMILY DOG wanders on to the scene before the walking talking/lying carpet remnant Jacob and receives the blessing of the first born?
The Dog is hairy, Esau is hairy, and the gggruff voice it could be Esau with a cold. Hmmm.. WHAT IF?
But I digress as no dog wanders in, and Jacob gets the blessing and skips town just before Esau returns from hunting. Esau fixes a fine dinner of wild game along with a bottle of Desert Merlot. He walks into to see dad ready to receive the blessing of the first born WHEN…
It's like Déjà vu all over again for Dad. -The Prophet Yogi Berra
Isaac exclaims.. “Hey, weren’t you just here?... er..aaaa.. didn’t you already come for your blessing?.. I mean.. I mean.. HEY WAIT A MINUTE!”
HEY, WHAT ABOUT ME?
This is the moment when the light bulb goes on enough for Isaac’s dim eyes to realize.. HE GAVE THE BLESSING TO THE WRONG SON!
I hate when that happens!
Esau is of course distraught and cries out .. “Bless me too!!.. what about me!!??” In response Isaac hold out his right arm limply and says..
“It’s empty.” no blessing for you, but we have some lovely parting gifts.
Ok he did not say those exact words, but Isaac is very clear .. the blessing of the first born has been given.. given to Jacob. Like a winning lottery ticket, THERE WAS ONLY ONE!..
So this caper of the misplaced blessing is over.. without me understanding the blessings of Isaac, except the fact that there are no take backs. The fact is God did intend for Jacob to be blessed as he continues to bless the descendants of Abraham as promised, through Isaac, and now Jacob to continue the promise of a great nation.
Moral of the story for us today? Be faithful like Abraham so that God can bless and use you as part of his plan. Whether you are the first born, that dreaded middle child (kidding), the baby, or you are adopted.. God loves you, and has a plan to bless & prosper all who love and obey Him.
Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I Know The Plans I Have For You' Declares the Lord, 'Plans to Prosper You and Not to Harm You, Plans to Give You Hope and a Future.
Psalms 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
May God find us faithful and full of love for the one true God, and blessed by him in ways that are beyond our dreams.
Jeff (first born) Larson
Before I discuss the Old Testament guide to 'FINDING A WOMAN' let me give a Genesis update where in Genesis 20 where Abraham AGAIN lies. He is not even original as he tells Abimelek king of Gerar that Sarah is his sister. So Abimilek took Sarah into his house .. until God spoke to him in a dream with the words "You are a dead man walking for taking a married woman from my prophet."
But God showed mercy on Abimilek as he had not come near her yet. The next day he gave Sarah back and Abe tried to explain himself in verse 12 ..
Well, technically she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.
<insert reflective pause here>
Sounds like an episode from the Reality TV show 'The Real Housewives of the region of the Negev between Kadesh and Shur'.
Let me note again.. Sarah was some kind of sport to go along with this. Don't think this plan would fly right with my wife Mary.
Also, why do Kings and Pharaohs in the book of Genesis want 80+ year old women? Not judging, just sayin'.
Next in Genesis 21 we learn Sarah becomes pregnant in her old age. This was before gender reveal parties so Abraham and Sarah had to wait the traditional 9 months before they exclaimed "It's a boy, and we shall call him Isaac."
In celebration then passed out blue cupcakes, and drank blue kool-aid... cuz boys are BLUE and girls are PINK.
Now onward and forward we go..
Do you remember Hagar in Genesis 16, The fact that she had a son with Abraham now complicated life. Tensions and jealousy rose between Hagar and Ishmael with Sarah and Isaac, so Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away.
I obviously do not understand this whole dynamic or know how to justify this.. except I do know that Hagar and Ishmael were not how God planned to bless Abraham but through the birth of Isaac.
This story is harsh, but in these verses we learn God heard the cries of Hagar and was with the boy. 17 ..the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven "Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying ..Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
Next, in Genesis 22, God tests Abraham by instructing him to sacrifice son Isaac whom he loved dearly.
.. but God finds Abe faithful in this test from God and God stops Abe from sacrificing Isaac and instead provides a lamb to be sacrificed.
Note 1: I confess I may have threatened to kill my boys when they were acting out as teenagers.
Note 2: Isaac being saved was very good news for the literal future of Israel.
Note 3: Not a good day to be a lamb stuck in a thicket.
Note 4: The above threats to kill my sons was a figure of speech
Moving forward in reading Genesis 22:21 we are introduced to my favorite names in the Bible.
Uz and Buz (not Buzz LIghtyear) the sons of Nahor.
Not much is said about these two fine young men leaving this cartoonist with time on his hands to imagine they were chick magnets and they had a cousin named.. Fuzz.
Maybe, maybe not.
Now back to Abraham. He is now well over 100 years old, and Sarah passed away Genesis 23. So of course Abraham feels the urgency of finding his son Isaac a wife before his days are over too. How is Abraham going to be the father of a nation with more descendants than the stars in the skies if his son never goes on a date?
"So Isaac my son, you need to go outside and stop playing video games all day. Say hi to a girl, they won't bite. Go find yourself a nice Jewish girl, settle down, then go forth and MULTIPLY! Maybe, maybe not
If the story in Genesis 24 was today, Abe could help Isaac set up an ad in the personals, sign up for a E-Harmony site, or Jewish Mingles, order a MAIL ORDER BRIDE, check the church bulletin board, or.. attend an old faithful church potluck where the dishes are HOT just like the ladies. Maybe, maybe not.
Since dating life in Genesis 24 was a tad more primitive than today with zero wi-fi, Abe decides to help his son out. Oh great, that is just the news any young man wants to hear.. Dad is finding me a woman of my very own. What I am trying to say is.. While I may have never been a major-mover with the ladies I never stooped to asking my dad for dating advice. I love you dad, but this was not going to happen.
To make this process even stranger-er, Abraham insisted his chief servant 'promise' to find this woman.
How is this promise secured you may ask?
No instead Abraham says.. “Hey fella, put your hand under my leg and swear.”
<insert dramatic pause here> I beg your pardon? Come again? Is this an advanced version of the old 'pull my finger' joke?
Aah those good old (testament) days. You just never hear anyone say anymore.. "put your hand under my leg".
note: I have a very good friend Bryan Anderson, and if he asked to put my hand under his leg you could be assured I would SWEAR. "Oh bleep, that was creepy!" Then I believe I would be deemed ceremonial unclean by my church for at least 7 days. maybe, maybe not
So Abraham’s servant does swear to Abraham to follow his instructions and finds the lovely Rebecca. It was truly love at first sight? er aaa.. meet?.. er aaaa… arranged marriage.
She agrees to return with Abe's servant and leave her family to marry Isaac. And they all lived happily ever after. Well at least through Genesis 24.
After the deal is done.. Abraham gets busy himself. He marries again and his new bride has more 6 kids. Finally at a very youthful age of 175 Abe breathes his last though they say he never did look a day past 155.
The lesson I see again in these Genesis stories is how God is faithful even when man even when we makes decisions that leave me more than scratching my head (ie Abraham). This is good news for me, and you too. I make more than my fair share of mistakes, and while my faith is not on par with Abraham.. I am blessed knowing God honors my desire to obey Him.
Life will never be about being the perfect Christian. Perfect Christians are like the Loch Ness monster.. folk lore at best.
I pray God finds us faithful, and I pray for His blessings and providence in our lives as we daily love and obey Him with all our heart.
Jeff (My wife is NOT my sister) Larson
I shared recently the mysterious voice saying "If you build it, they will come." happened way before the movie 'Field of Dreams' when God spoke to Noah instructing him to build it (an Ark) and they (the Animals) would come two by two.
Next big event IMO in the book of Genesis was when the phrase 'Home of the Whopper' was coined way before a single Burger King fast food joint existed. Let me explain.. but first..
ON THE ROAD AGAIN!
In Genesis 12 Abram enters the Old Testament story. Abram is maybe 85 years young, his bride Sarai is maybe 70. The Lord tells Abram .. “Road Trip.!!.. pack up the Winnebago”. So Abraham loads a destination of Canaan into his GPS and says goodbye to Sweet Home Haran with Lynard Skynard playing in the background.
HOME OF THE WHOPPER!
The next thing you know Abram was in Egypt with his wife Sarai while there was a famine in the land. While in Egypt, Pharaoh spies Abram's wife Sarai who rumor has it was a 'fetching' 70 year old hottie. So Abe tells a little fib that Sarai is his sister as he is afraid they will kill him to take Sarai as their wife. Ok, that is not a white lie this is a WHOPPER of a lie.
So Pharaoh takes Sarai into his palace, and treats Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels out of the exchange.
side note: I am not sure my wife in Sarai's place would have been such a good sport.
But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
side note 2: While Abraham would become known as a great man of faith, Honest Abe was our 16th president and never confused with this Abram guy pawning his wife off in Egypt.
After Egypt, Abe travels to southern Canaan as a very wealthy man with cattle, silver, and gold. But tension arose between Abram and his nephew Lot because there were simply too many animals for the land to support. So Abe says to Lot, “Let’s not bicker over land. If you choose the land to the left, I will go to the right, and if you choose the land to the right, I will go to the left.” And Lot chooses the land in the direction of Sodom which could have been named LOT VEGAS!
In chapter 14, there were battles, but I gather that military tactics were a bit primitive. One particular lesson learned is still taught in the Soldier’s Field Manual at WestPoint stating a soldier should always avoid the short cut across the TARPITS.
During all this time, the Lord often reminds Abraham that he will be blessed by God so that to try to number his descendants will like trying to count the grains of sand on the shore, or the stars in the skies. There was of course the minor problem that AARP collectors Abram and Sarai had no kids.
So now the plot thickens as Sarai (the good wife) says to Abram, “Why don’t you sleep with my slave girl Hagar?” I have a couple of Back Pew comments with this part of the story.
1. When I think of Hagar, I think of that Viking cartoon character Hagar the Horrible.
2. My wife has never offered me a slave girl to sleep with! Of course if she did I would say very politely, “Why Mary, thank you very much for this most generous offer, BUT (with the vision of Hagar the Horrible in my head) I’m good.” I may not be a great man of faith like Abram, but my momma didn’t raise NO DUMMY!!
But Abram ignores the tell tale warning signs that this idea is DUMBER-ER than a bag of hammers, and wanders out onto THIN ICE IN THE HOT DESERT and says more than howdy-do to the lovely miss Hagar.
Hagar now becomes pregnant by Abram and Sarai lets Abram have it by probably saying something like, “I told you to sleep with her, but not SLEEP with her!” To which Abram so eloquently in his defense says, “Huh? What? But you said!!! I thought I could.... Huh?”
As you can read in chapter 16, this arrangement is nothing you ever see discussed on Focus on the Family, Oprah, or even The Jerry Springer show. These chapters are NOT in the Bible as an example how to model the perfect marraige, but to instead show us God is faithful and caring for Abram and Sarai even when they do really dumb things. Fortunately for all of us, our foolish choices are covered by God’s grace and goodness.
In chapter 17, God says to Abram to change his name from Abram, to Abraham. I wonder if this was so that he could start fresh and people would not know he was the guy who lied that Sarai was his sister, and slept with his wife’s slave girl. Sarai also has her named changed to Sarah. Then near the end of the chapter 99 year old Abraham is circumcised. This profound scripture emphatically reminds me not to complain about my own aches and pains. And all men collectively shout AMEN!!.. and .. YOWTCHEE!!
I thank God for His love and grace not dependent on my perfection. I pray God finds us all faithful in words and deeds and willing to hear God's voice when He calls us.
Jeff (my wife is not my sister) Larson
I found a web site which lists the oldest people living today. When I checked it I read of a lady who was 115, and another that was 125, and then some lady I think from Peru that was supposedly 140! There was a picture of this lady and, yes, she looked every bit of 140. Of course I am not sure how we can really know she is that old (count her wrinkles like the rings on a tree?), but there is no doubt she is very, very old.
So segue back to Genesis after Cain kills his brother Abel we move on to a ‘a whole-lotta-begetting’ going on. God’s command to “go forth and multiply” was one command mankind took to heart well beyond just knowing simple math facts!
But old in Genesis is a relative thing. People in Genesis times lived to be sometimes 800 or 900 years old.
Adam lived to be 930 years old after God created him on the 6th day Genesis 5:5. His son Seth was 912 Genesis 5:8, Noah later on in Genesis we learn lived to be 950 years, and the long in the tooth award winner is .. Methuselah... the oldest man in the history of .. HISTORY. Methuselah was cut down in the prime of life at the age of 969 Genesis 5:25-27
I figure if I eat my veggies, drink milk, get 8 hours of sleep a night along with daily exercise and in only 908 more birthdays I will have Methuselah beat. That will be in the year.. 2928 when I am neighbors with George Jetson.
They say you are only as old as you feel and I find this to be very little encouragement some days when feeling 'Genesis5esque' old. Maybe not Methuselah old, but at least somewhere in the mid 500s. and to think they did not have Ibuprophen.
The other interesting pattern of this was how old people were still.. um.. still.. ‘begetting’. While one of today’s serious society concerns is teen pregnancies, this was not the problem with society recorded in Genesis.
In Genesis 5 it was not unusual for a couple to wait 70 to 500 years old before starting a family. I guess those 500 years were spent playing golf, world travel using up frequent flyer miles, paying off the mortgage(s), credit card debt, or marking hot yoga off their bucket list.
Maybe women in Genesis 5 wanted a career as a shepherdess, garden mogul, or working as a Mary Kay Cosmetics specialist before settling down and having kids.
Note: This parenting trend even held true even after Noah came onto the scene.
At age 500 Noah had three sons, and when he was about 600 years old when the Lord told him to start his Desert Ark Marina, and from what I read his sons helped with this process.
Ok, so picture this - 600 year old Noah, and his three 100 year old sons building a very big (BBIIIGGG) boat. Five hundred years old!? That would be like Columbus still being around, and working with those old people I found on that web site to build an ark. Of course Columbus may understand boats, BUT.. HE’S VERY OLD AND VERY DEAD, and those people from the website are VERY OLD and will be dead soon enough.
I do believe these stories we read about in Genesis, but in our modern world I have trouble picturing this Old Testament culture. But then again, I suppose IF Noah reappeared in the desert near the city of Las Vegas (aka Sin City), he would most likely sigh and say, “I better get busy building another ark in the desert again because society is certainly going to Hell.” (insert pun here).
Let me close these early chapters of Genesis with a few more images sharing a Back Pew perspective.
So while it is hard for me to grasp the fact that I am 62.. a Methuselah like age (969) boggles the mind. But like so many things in the Bible, just because I don’t understand does not make it not true.
From Genesis through Revelation I find the evidence and promise of God’s love and grace.
From the Garden to the Flood to the Cross all the way through life today sitting in my Back Pew there is this promise and evidence of a loving God.
May God bless each of you today in ways that are beyond your dreams. I pray you place your faith and hopes in the one true God of our Bibles.
Jeff (Methuselah like aches & pains) Larson
aka The Northwoods Good Samaritan of 2001. This is a story near and dear to my heart that I like to share most every December.
Back in the December of 2001 on the roads of ice and snow near Hayward Wisconsin a young mom with her preschool children loaded in the family car was heading home to the nearby town of Drummond when along the road she spots an older man with the hood up on his car.
This was a typical bitter cold December day, but though she has her young children with her she is impressed to stop and see if she can help.
As she pulls over the old man approaches her car. She cautiously locks her doors and rolls down her window slightly to ask if she can help. The old man does not speak, tries to open the door, then reaches inside his coat.. making her all the more uneasy.
The old man pulls out a small keyboard from his jacket and plays a pretyped short message explaining he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) so he can not speak. He then types needs a ride into town. The young woman opens her car to the old man she does not know and drives him home.
This old man was my father Walter Larson, and the young woman was Jen Herricks, and Jen was the the Good Samaritan of Northern Wisconsin 2001. I wonder how many cars drove by before Jen stopped to help. How many macho northwoods guys in their 4x4 trucks drove by too busy to help an old man stranded on a bitter cold winter day? Maybe none, but maybe too many. But no matter, my dad was cared for by someone with a family car, and a kind heart.
Jen later explained to my mom that she thought my dad was an angel. There are a few explanations for this observation but no one before this had described my dad as an angel. A good guy for sure, but an angel? .. hmmm. No so much.
Maybe there was an angel standing alongside my dad that cold December day, or the the peace dad demonstrated just months before passing on to Heaven. Either way today this was certainly a divine appointment with an angel named Jen.
I love the gospel passage Mt 25:35-40ish “You fed me when I was hungry, you clothed me when I was naked.” Well if the gospels were written today they would also say “you gave me a ride when I was an old man when my car broke down on a winter road in Wisconsin. For when you do these things for the least of my people, you do it for me.”
So Jen gives my dad a ride home. He offers her money, she refuses, and they go their separate ways. NICE STORY, BUT IT IS NOT OVER!.
A few weeks later my folks receive a Christmas card from Jen wishing and praying the best for them. This was nice touch too, but... THE STORY IS NOT OVER!
My dad passed away from his battle with ALS just a couple short months after their December encounter. The funeral was a celebration of the good man my dad was, and his reward in Heaven. 'Irony' or providence has it Jen and her family began attending my mom & dad's church in Cable Wisconsin still not realizing the connection.
After a short period of time it became clear to Jen that my mom attends this same church.. and so Jen contacts my mom. This began a friendship that continued until my mom passed away in December 2016.. 15 YEARS later. This friendship continued after Jen's family moving 70 miles away, and my mom later moved 150 miles to the Twin Cities. I mean, c'mon this took this good Samaritan thing too far.. they must have actually become close friends. Correction they were the best of friends.
When Jen came to visit my mom it is with hugs and kisses that are reserved normally for family. Her kids called her Grandma Nell, and many of the trips included sleep overs in my mom's little apartment This friendship God has provided Jen those 15 years my mom as a ‘seasoned’ Christian woman to talk and confide in.
My mom as I mentioned passed away in December 2016, but you can not take away the blessing of that God orchestrated ride 15 years ago for my dad, or the wonderful friendship over the next 15 for my mom and for Jen. God is good even through the tough times.
Thank you Jen.
So as Christmas approaches, please take time to slow down and notice the angel appointments in your life.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson