I have this prayer prep that I use when my mind is busy and unfocused. I slow my mind to take a glimpse of my place in this Universe.
Specifically, I am a speck on a blue ball (Earth) that spins at 1000 mph orbiting around our sun in our Solar System of 8 (or 9) planets, which is one of countess galaxies in our infinite Universe. ..
AND this existence.. my existence is just a microscopic blip on the timeline of .. eternity!
So while I admit I should lose like 25 (or so) pounds I also am feeling very small. Then to think of the intricacies of the human body, the human condition, that I have a free will, and I believe His spirit makes me a very special speck on this blue dot.
While I attempt to grasp this perspective of significance.. I pray Psalms 8:4 Who am I that you are mindful of me? .. and I am in awe of creation and more importantly our creator and His inexplicable love for each of us. Better yet, y'all best read all of Psalms 8
Now .. I am ready to pray as the world slows down.. I am an awe of God, and thankful for this day (even the bad ones), and pray that my life, my family, my friends, church, community, state, nation, and world come to realize the significance, purpose, and place as their own speck like roles on this blue dot.
Love God, love others and all glory to God on this day! Cuz ya know, the rest is speck on a blue ball trivia by comparison.
Jeff (Big Speck) Larson
As a guy.. I am a TV Commercial aficionado. While I respect my wife.. when it comes to TV Commercials hands-down I have a deeper appreciation for their .. art.
Case and point is a TV commercial by AT&T where a tattoo artist tells his client he is just an ok tattoo artist but not good one. Then the concerned client questions the tattoo artist not drawing the image before inking the real tattoo.. and this 'just ok' tattoo artist tells him "Stay in your lane bro."
Funny stuff, and it makes me smile every time it pops up on TV.
Message of this commercial? Don't settle for just ok.
But hidden in this TV ad.. I have gleaned a spiritual correlation. OK, you have to look very very closely but I swear there is one.
When I talk to (aka pray) God, I am not talking with a just an OK deity.. I am talking with the 'only' Creator of this World. Omniscient, Omnipresent, and our perfect loving Heavenly Father.
So when I vent (aka pray) to God my busy mind fretting about never ending pandemics, inflation, midterm elections, my family, friends, and mix it all up in a big bowl of worry with more than a splash of media hype.. I tell God "I don't know how this is going to all work out."
And this is when God whispers to me.. "Stay in your lane bro."
But unlike a 'just ok' deity our God is sovereign. He has this bowl of worries of mine along with everyone else's favorite rage or anxiety recipe and though mankind has again made such a mess of things.. He was not caught off guard. He is not surprised, and NEWS FLASH none of this is a ripple in God's great plan.
Note: I do want to be clear there are consequences for anyone and/or nation's actions and/or rejections of God, but still there is peace in knowing God is sovereign.
Another NEWS FLASH.. this life, our moment in time is not about us.. it is about each of us being faithful in word and deed as we hear God say "stay in our lane bro, I got this".
I will confess, I struggle in understanding this. It's not that I doubt God is sovereign but that He allows the free will of mankind to make a mess and so what am I to do.
So with this in mind, I will pray to our God who is good. I pray we then love Him with our words and deeds knowing God answers our prayers.
And finally, I pray..
Heavenly Father bless and use each of us for your glory in ways that only can be described as beyond our dreams.
Remember God loves us.
Jeff (changing lanes often) Larson
IS GOD BORING?
zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.. That is not a fair question..
I know people may say church is boring, but God? BORING? I mean you would not say this to God's face .. IF you were allowed to look at Him directly and live, but the whole stereotype of God in our society may present Him as a bit stuffy.
And let me be clear I would not say 'GOD IS BORING, but let's be fair and look how He stacks up with our 24/7 Entertain me NOW society.
Let's start with SUNDAYS:
Football - You can spend the afternoon sitting on the 50 yard line cheering your team as they play their hated rivals on a beautiful fall day doubly blessed with vendors who for a few dollars deliver to you your favorite snacks and beverages.
Church - You could spend Sunday sitting on a hard wooden pew in Church singing a hymn or EIGHT, listening to a sermon where the vendors are replaced with ushers who also take your money but there will be no food for you!.. Advantage.. FOOTBALL
Food Glorious Food:
Dining Out - The world offers wonderful dining opportunities of all cuisines whether you dine out, drive through, or have your meal delivered right to your door.
Church Potluck - Church offers the infamous potluck dinner where there are more ways to fix a macaroni casserole/hotdish than there are stars in the sky. Advantage: DINING OUT
Reality TV Superstar Kim - has over 20 million twitter followers with the focus on I guess watching Kim be Kim? and Kim is worth millions!
Mother Theresa - She ran hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens, dispensaries and mobile clinics; children's and family counselling programs; orphanages, and schools... BUT still no Twitter followers, and no signs of prosperity displayed in 'this' life. So based on Twitter stats and $$.. Advantage: KIM
God's Word - The bible teaches God's never changing loving truth for mankind, and there is but one God. This Truth not everyone can handle.
Secular World View - Our society teaches truth is a relative state of being up for interpretation by progressive thinkers. This world is polytheistic where there are many ways to find a god and/or truth. Based on the appearance of inclusiveness (though Col Jessup scares me)..
Advantage: appears to be SOCIETY
Cosmology v Theology:
Cosmology - Cosmology is the science of the origin and development of the universe. With an annual budget for space exploration of around $18 billion in the US, Resources like the images from the Hubble Telescope are used to support their studies.
Theology - This is the study of the nature of God and religious belief. Of course there is no annual US budget on Theology. Resources like the bible are used to support these studies. If money means anything.. Advantage: NASA
The above examples are a bit over the top but with a thread of 'humanistic truth' (please note humanistic and truth is an oxymoron). How can the church compete with the glitz & glam, the look & presentation, and budget found in our 24/7 self serving society?
What if part of the next year's $18 billion NASA budget was spent on understanding our creator rather than His creation?
So my conclusion is.. God is not boring! But the little box we attempt to put God in, and our lazy attempts to know Him are BORING.
What if there was a spiritual revival of our nation where we pursue God like a Spiritual Hubble Telescope? I am sure then.. we would not be bored.
May God keep each of you today from society's buffet for the senses, but instead pursue Him. To love God and care for others (God's two greatest commandments Mt 22:36-40) and NOT boring!
Most everyone agrees after a quick cursory glance and a collective cringe the year 2020 was not good.
In fact, 2020 was the 'dumpster fire' of years. And so.. I am praying for a much better 2021 and am not even shooting for good. I would settle for just ok.
but.. no matter what 2021 brings IN THE 'very' BEGINNING when God created .. it was good.
Genesis 1 - In the beginning, God spoke the universe into existence. Some witnesses of this moment claimed they heard a loud crackling sound like thunder, but most simply described it as 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 again 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.
Those first 6 days His creation included the sun, stars, land, waters, and all the creatures in the sea and on land were created.
Genesis 2:1-3 Then fast forward to 7th day and 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.
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
This universe was born with the Big Bang as an unimaginably hot, dense point. When the universe was just 10-34 of a second or so old — that is, a hundredth of a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second in age — it experienced an incredible burst of expansion known as inflation, in which space itself expanded faster than the speed of light. During this period, the universe doubled in size at least 90 times, going from subatomic-sized to golf-ball-sized almost instantaneously.
- excerpt from Science.com article, June 6, 2017.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5
Today, I return to one of my favorite topics.. Our Great God! From the micro to the macro of all things with order and purpose is the handy-work of our Creator. I won't belabor the point, but the complexity of all things from the micro level to the ends of the universe declare their is a God.
Science is.. the finite study of what infinite God created.
Science examines.. the boundaries of time and space, while
God transcends.. both time and space.
To summarize for those scoring at home.. God is BIG, and we are not.
Then we turn on the evening news that spews stories of panic and where blind vitriolic hatred replaces reasonable discussions. There are wars and rumors of wars, political divide and anarchy like I can't remember. Until the last year I believed the sun was at the center of the universe, but the evening news between the years 2016-2020 the center of the universe is actually a dark star named Donald Trump. All stories somehow seem to include his name. WHO KNEW!
note: This was not statement about Donald Trump (pro or con) but just the rabid obsession of the evening news.
What is missing in all of this is our God. The creator of our universe needs to be the center of our universe, not POTUS, the Pope, your job, your favorite sports team (Go Pack Go!) or.. ME. Don't put your hope in any of these things or you will be disappointed.
Love the Lord God with all your soul, heart and mind and others as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
I repeat these words of Jesus often as this must be the returning starting point of each day. To lose focus in life of these two greatest commandments of Jesus will skew your day. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Now let me take a moment to reflect on life with a proper perspective.
Now back to Earth in my home where I sit in my office chair. Our God is both so breathtakingly BIG, and also so very personal all at the same time. Is it possibly to fully grasp this truth? NO, but what other way could it be?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
So I leave today's ramble on two cups of coffee and on my way to a third cup with the prayer that our focus not be on this big world with it's big angst, but instead on our Amazing God the creator of all things, and the lover of you and me.
How can we help but love and serve Him. How can we help but pursue Him.
The Wow Factor paraphrased - is an experience and/or observation that grabs your attention and holds it.. as you exclaim "WOW".
For me, I love sports. The speed, power, finesse, strategy, and teamwork of great athletes and teams playing to win the game. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat was the tag line for the old 'Wide World of Sports' show, and this all makes me go.. WOW!
It also love Art. Ok, not true art.. but cartoons. You may never catch me in an art gallery perusing the works of Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, or Leonardo de Vinci, because I save my WOWs for Gary Larson - The FarSide, Berke Breathed - Bloom County, Bill Watterson - Calvin & Hobbes, and Jim Unger - Herman. WOW!
side note: one of my favorite Christmas presents of all time my wife bought me The Complete Farside collection (3 volumes) in hardcover. While many may think, "WOW, what a wasted of time and $$, but for me it was simply.. WOW!
Others love beautiful music. Music is that Wow their lives while I am busy checking my TV for a game while drawing Back Pew cartoons. It may be a symphony, jazz quartet, rock & roll, hymnfest, or a modern worship service there is for most of music that makes us go Wow. Of course I am old enough now that hip-hop, pop, and rap leave me shaking my head, cringe, and mutter "people like this stuff?.. wow."
Of course Disco, and Polka music I will just say.. no comment.
Next, let's travel further from the center of my universe as we look up at the night sky mesmerized by the stars while our planet Earth orbits around a blazing ball of burning gas (not Washington DC,.. it's the sun) realizing we are only one planet of 8 or 9 planets orbiting this sun and all this is part of The Milky Way Galaxy in an ever expanding universe all with order all functioning with precise science and math.. which the collective scientific community responds in one voice.. WOW!
- note the above is an 89 word runon sentence... WOW.
Did I choose your WOW tirgger? Well no matter if it is science, music, art, sports, or watching the Wheel of Fortune ( I like the wheel) realize all WOWs come from our creator.
Don't get me wrong, our Wow moments are real and there is no need to apologize for shouting wow (unless you are in church, or during a funeral).. BUT step out further to realize our God is the source of all things WOW.
If we don't we miss the point of this big ol' Beautiful world. Life is not about me, my passions or hobbies.. LIFE IS FOREMOST ABOUT GOD, and the worship and adoration he deserves.
How great is our God! WOW!
Thank you God for your amazing creation that is your handiwork, and thank you for your love and grace in this life, and the promise of eternity with you our wonderful creator.
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 anyone elses 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
The internet also offers the ever evolving social media kit at no extra charge where I can text, Tweet, post on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TicTok, or blog.. Blog? Sounds like a cheap horror movie from the 1950s.. 'The Attack of the 50 Page 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. Rumor is Cyber Clyde is trending... maybe.
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 and there are actually ONE 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 their 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. In this box I pray I do not confuse my political beliefs are important but should never be confused with my Faith.
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 JESUS OUR SAVIOR.
In this world now, in the PM Society box is needed a return to God's Truth. WE NEED 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, and better year in need of a revival is this hot-mess Covid-19 compromised 2020.
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
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson