I wrote a while back about GETTING WHAT I DESERVE from God. I shared in this somewhat controversial blurb I deserve God's Grace, I deserve His Love because I am a child of God and God the Father is the perfect parent, and even as an imperfect parent myself I would always forgive and forget and strive to be patient and graceful towards my kids no matter their mistakes.
This GETTING WHAT I DESERVE writing was met with mixed reviews as some shared Grace is a gift we do not deserve, and our goodness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) in comparison to our Creator. TRUTH!
Here in lies for me the PARADOX as both seemingly contradictory statements are true. We are all God's children, and He desires each one of us choose Him, BUT I know first hand my weaknesses my failures, my selfish desires are sometimes far from the heart of God... aka filthy rags.
I could ramble on about this topic and may do so another day, but today I will use the PRODIGAL SON as a great story of this paradox. This rebellious son chose his own way with his own free will and was allowed by the father to separate his life and choices totally from the father. During this time he was still the son and was loved, but far removed from doing anything remotely obedient or loving.
Once the prodigal son hit bottom, he grieved his poor decisions and with his same free will CHOSE to return to the father who welcomed him NOT with scolding words of disappointment BUT with open arms and love and a celebration exclaiming "My son was lost but now is found."
This prodigal son was both selfish, sinful, rebellious, and also loved beyond description by his Father. Both aspects of the son were true.. he was a walking talking (smelling like a pig pen) paradox... and so are we.
Our very best is NOTHING compared to our Heavenly Father. He deserves and desires our love and appreciation but we have the choice to reject Him. Isn't it great to be loved like this. Unconditional love that welcomes us back when we blow it.
Of course you may be like the other son who has NOT wandered far from home and was good, BUT please take on the heart of the father when those who have suffered prodigal moments have returned. We should celebrate the return of a brother or sister, and not EVER shake our heads comparing our relative goodness.
Note Again: The very best of any of us is still truly filthy rags compared to our Father. Not shaming anyone, but the very best virtuous, moral, giving, talented, gifted orators are clanging cymbals without God's love. So be thankful, stay humble, and rejoice with others and with the Father always.
This PARADOX is the heart of the gospel. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 Two seemingly contradictory statements that are both beautifully true.
May God bless and use you today no matter if you are the good rule following child of God OR.. the prodigal who has wandered away YET AGAIN. Both of you are His children and you are loved, and you DESERVE HIS GRACE if you choose it.. because that is what perfect love does. Accept this paradox from God.
Jeff (A living Breathing Back Pew Paradox) Larson
In the year 2020 the Coronavirus pandemic kidnapped the world holding EVERYONE hostage with no tangible ransom demands except to social distance, wear a mask (or three), and obey all other 'Big Brother' government lockdowns in true George Orwell 1984 fashion.
I really do take COVID-19 serious, but there are so many contradictory 'expert' opinions funneled through a media monster hopped up on Red Bull with an agenda. The popular statement 'I believe science' begs the question..
'Ok, but which science?' But that is a ramble for another day.
Now in 2021 we still have COVID-19, plus riots disguised as peaceful protests, and the cries of of all things racist have become the 2021 version of the CRT boy who cries wolf (in this case racism).
Trending in 2021 are Socialist, Marxist, BLM, Antifa, SJW, CRT, and LGBTQ agendas, all the while the deconstructing of Christianity is finding it's way deep into the traditional Christian church. This all leaves a normally sane guy like me to ask "Why God.. "WHY?"
Our society is like a roller coaster going too fast, with faulty safety harnesses careening along tracks last serviced in 1984. This will not end well. We are all destined to leave the tracks in front of the camera ready news shows of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and FOX salivating in anticipation watching society crash into a twisted heap of metal and cotton candy (from one kid riding in the front car).
Who was to blame? Was it society, the church.. maybe Donald Trump? Why God why?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do bad men prosper?
Why is there so much pain & suffering?
Would a good God (if he even exists) allow and/or cause this rollercoaster train wreck?
So we ask "Why God.. Why?"
AND THEN... the Lord answered me from the whirlwind ..
“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?.. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. .. What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone.. “Who kept the sea inside its boundaries.. But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! (God then rolled His eyes at me from the whirlwind) “Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? ..
Oh, God went on to say a lot more to me... but you get the point.
WHO AM I.. to tell the creator of all things what is fair and unfair, and more importantly who is to blame?
Ok, I tried to pull a fast one on all of you but God's response was actually from the book of Job chapter 38 where God answers Job (not Jeff) in a whirlwind.
For the first 37 chapters Job who was a righteous and wealthy man (Job 1) who then death of loved ones, his wealth stolen, and even his physical health was taken from him to the point that his body was covered from head to toe with sores.
Then starting in chapter 38, God speaks to Job from the whirlwind where God shares perspective to Job or anyone (even a Jeff) about questioning God.
As the book of Job ends, Job is restored with wealth, health and family beyond all that he had lost. Read the whole book of Job to better understand our place when life becomes a world of hurt.
Ok, I accept God the creator of this world can do whatever he pleases. But still Why God, why? Still why do you allow bad people to thrive, and the good to be mistreated? Why do the innocent suffer?
The Answer.. Because man from the very beginning when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden continues to mess up aka sin.
In fact just 6 chapters into the book of Genesis we read.. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5
and so God destroyed the Earth with a flood.
But most of us may semi-rightly say.. "I may not be perfect, but my heart is not wicked, and my every intention is not on evil continually." Hey, I am not HITLER.
but King Solomon writes.. Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. Eccelsiastes 7:20
And.. Paul writes.. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
So.. while I may not be evil, this world filled with a SINS great and small in fact man's every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually... and VOID OF GOD.
AND.. Mankind has been blessed by God with FREE WILL lest we be His slaves or robots void of a relationship with God. There is happiness when our free will chooses God, but through history man has abused this free will and corrupted the good God intends for each of us. The result is a world of hatred, stress, envy, illness, and death. Our fallen world of pain & suffering is our own fault, and not God's.
But on this roller coaster of life sailing off the tracks, I thank God for his perfect grace and forgiveness for this soul. So now I truly wonder Why God, why.. do you still love me?
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love, Here's my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above. -- excerpt from the great hymn Come thou Fount of Every Blessing.
My prayer today is for God's people to live in obedience and praise to our God. May we fear and honor Him with our words, and actions as an outpouring of our love for Him. May this love and service extend out to a world that needs hope.
Jeff (no more why questions for today) Larson
Am I really good? Am I good enough for Heaven?
Hmmm.. well honestly I would say I am a pretty good guy. I did not keep a good tally of my bad behaviors versus good choices on my pocket abacus , but I still attest I am 'pretty good and not so bad'.
But no matter how good or bad I am, getting into Heaven is always about God's Grace and not about my relative goodness. His grace is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9
So in my case, being pretty good never felt so.. good.
So rest easy there is no entrance exam to get into Heaven. You will not need to know the names of at least 10 of the 12 disciples, or know the names of the sons of Nahor in Genesis 22.
hint: Their names rhyme with fuzz.
At the Pearly Gates you will not be greeted by a Gate Keeper suspecting you of smuggling in contraband (ie devils food cake?).
The only question asked in 'Pearly Gate Redneck speak' will be
"if yer kin.. yer in."
note: This email is not a battle cry for mediocrity, or to strive to only be 'good enough', but only to clarify our goodness is tentative when compared to our perfect creator.
Our best is simply not good enough
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God Romans 3:23
our righteousness are as filthy rags Isaiah 64:6
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
This was great news for any thief on a cross, cartoonist (me) sitting on his office chair, and for station you are in life. AND.. There is no better day than today to get right with God.
Jeff (not nearly Good Enough) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson