Most every year I share a story from the Old West (umm 1960s), but just like any Clint Eastwood Western ie. The Good the Bad and the Ugly, or The Unforgiven.. this story of Justice with six-shooters blazing begs to be retold.
I enjoyed watching a while back a TV docudrama on the history of the American West. It was a time when Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, and Jesse James with guns a blazing lived large in the tales of lawman versus Lawbreaker.
This brought my mind back to 55 years ago in the (MID)Western frontier of Cable Wi (population 280-maybe) when I served as an 8 year old lawman working with my deputy and 6 year old friend David Larson. It was a time of lawlessness where big talk and big guns (cap & pop alike) were a way of life.
Bad blood had been brewing since Sunday School the previous Sunday when Dastardly Dick Ludzack and BadNews Bryan Anderson AGAIN refused to sing Jesus loves me (truth is neither could sing a tune to save their lives) talking big about "singin' is for girls." This type of brash defiance of our Lord could not be tolerated.
The time for words (or singin Jesus loves me') was over.. justice must be served.
So just a few days later September 14, 1965 (right after school) Deputy Dave and myself traveled to the Ludzack Farm on the east side of town to bring these brazen lawbreakers to justice. If justice came at the end of a rope or my smokin' guns.. So be it.
This day would soon after be known as The Shootout at Ludzack Farm. (kinda like an elementary school version of the Shootout at the OK Corral)
When we arrived at the Ludzack Farm we learned Dastardly and BadNews were camped out on the North side of the family barn, so we quickly set up just on the Southeast corner as news traveled they were heading south along the east side of this same barn. We were ready, but knew they would not surrender without a fight. Both sides had enough Guns & Ammo to make the NRA blush.
Tension was in the air as Dastardly & BadNews turned the southeast corner and were met with guns a blazin'. BLAM, BLAM, PEW, PEW, POP, BANG. This gunfight was was over before it started.
As the smoke from our cap guns lifted it was clear by their (imaginary/implied) bullet riddled bodies both Dastardly & Badnews had their 'comeupins'. There would be no trial, there would be no chance for dem boys to redeem themselves and sing like choir boys next Sunday morning cuz.. THEY WUZ DEAD.
Except.. out of the silence BadNews Bryan (always hated him) shout "Uh-uh" you missed me, and you are both DEAD cuz I shot you both in the HEAD."
It was such a grand lie. Such a big fib that 55 years later I am surprised Bryan thinks he has a chance at Heaven. This just ruined my day. I came to this town to bring law and order, and I am thwarted by a 7 year old and those weak words.. Uh-uh! I was so mad I went home and told my MOM.
Thinking back to those lawless times in the fall of 1965 I am haunted by my failure to bring to justice that no good lyin' snake Bad News Bryan Anderson. Of course the story is not over as Bryan was the best man in my wedding in 1984 and we meet almost weekly for lunch.
You know what they say, keep you friends close, and your ENEMIES closer. Better sleep with one eye open BadNews.
Jeff (dreaming of exercising my second amendment rights since 1965) Larson
note: Spiritual lesson for the day.. Make your peace with the Lord before you have your 'comeupins'.
No, this email is not about Al Gore, Global Warming, or Big Al’s Oscar Award Winning Documentary.
But on an awkwardly ironically amusing side note there was a North Pole expedition in 2007 meant to bring attention to Global Warming but was called off after one of the explorers got frostbite. The explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen called off what was intended to be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment. -- read FROSTBITE.. but I digress.
But for me the real inconvenient truth America does not like to hear is.. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD! Our Oprah Winfrey-esk society passionately believes in respecting all gods (note the small g) at the expense of compromising honor and worship due to the one TRUE God of our Bibles.
Believing in another god or no God is just as WRONG WRONG WRONG as sincerely attempting to summit the world's tallest Mt. Everest but actually being on the side of Long's Peak in Colorado which is less than 1/2 as tall as Everest. YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE.
Some say "THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH CHRISTIANS!! They are all so JUDGEMENTAL!" Well same logic would then damn first grade teachers for teaching 1+1=2 when you want 1+1 to = 37.
The above Mt. climbing, and simple math analogy, OR.. the fact I can no longer fit into the same pants I did 20 years ago all face the same inconvenience.. TRUTH.
note: In my defense I believe they make pants with a 34 inch waist SMALLER now. <pause> ok, ok.. that is me in denial of another inconvenient truth!
You don't have to be a GENIUS to realize Nature screams that there is a God who was the creator of this world.
CREATION was not happenstance, and our universe is NOT the random existence of matter and space…. Our creator is not Buddha, Zeus, or the Kemp’s Cow for you Hindus. It is not the Sister Sun, Mother Moon, or any New Age / Oprah Winfrey wild haired scheme found on a Hollywood Astrology HOTline.
The creator of this world and of all things is the God of our Bibles, and may the glory and honor be His and His alone.
To believe anything else is a sad lie, and from the father of lies.
Truth is Truth.. even when it is INCONVENIENT.
As believers let's celebrate and share this BEAUTIFUL TRUTH of our loving Heavenly Father to a secular world hell bent (literally) on being inclusive to every nook and cranny faith. There are so many lost in their own secular humanistic LOGIC while attempting to fit the concept of a God in a nice little box.
For those who do not believe, I pray you take time to ponder these Biblical Truths ..
May God bless all our lives with TRUTH.. purpose, and love for God and others. May this be the source of happiness and contentment and purpose that gives your life meaning like never before.
LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS.. leave the rest as details... and by no means an INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Jeff (inconveniently truthful in the Back Pew) Larson
Note of Clarification
The following blog commentary is about the little word 'BUT' ..but.. it is not to be confused with the word 'BUTT' (aka bottom.. aka buttocks, ) which always makes Minions laugh.
I recently read a quote by Tim Keller on Twitter.. 'Repentance is crucial for renewal and restoration', and full disclosure honesty is required for true repentance.
Very true, BUT it is often easier to say "I am sorry, BUT.." then insert my favorite excuse/rationalization of what I am supposedly sorry for. Here are a few I am sorry BUTs.
Next let me share a couple gender specific 'sorry but' prayers.
(see cartoon on the right)
Hmmm, maybe we should raise the bar and strive to do better than either of the above man, or woman's prayers.
Back to Tim Keller's words of wisdom. 'Repentance is crucial for renewal and restoration', and full disclosure honesty is required for true repentance. Not much wiggle room for any sorry buts.
BUT.. Hey I am a pretty good guy. I go to church, love my wife and stay out of trouble.
But who am I fooling? Not God. He knows my secret doubts, rage, anxiety, envy, mumbled profanities, and other more quiet rebellions against what I know is right in my heart. I have too often compromised time, resources, and talents that were truly a gift from God. This does not include bigger sins (ie alcohol) that almost killed me. For all these and more I am sorry.. no buts.
Mark me down as a work in progress.
What would be possible if we all were truly repentant and inspired by the love of God? It could be a revival this fallen world needs.. like.. NOW!
May God bless each of you on your spiritual journey, where you are blessed and used by God in ways that are beyond your dreams. My our hearts be repentant, and open to receive the promise of God's Grace.
Jeff (no buts about it) Larson
Life again reminds me we are all so very busy with days filled and choices to be made. Sometimes I feel like a contestant on the Price is Right TV show and I randomly choose door number #3 today.. and hope for the best.
So to help guide our life decisions I would like to suggest the Closed Fist and Open Hand approach.
But.. a serious dilemma occurs when we mix our Open Hand and Closed Fist views. Just think if an alcoholic who continues to drink, a marriage without fidelity, or if I decide not to pay my bills on time.. or pay them at all. All are a recipe for disaster.
Of course, Open Hand and Closed Fist views are rubbed in our faces when we turn on the evening news where Washington is filled with Closed Fists ready to punch political opponents in the nose.. or lower. I guess this is what Washington calls 'reaching across the aisle'.
Now finally, how's the old Open Hand v Closed Fist working with God's people? From my vantage point, not so good. Just a glance on my Twitter account I could imagine..
Seriously, the church can be a prickly place. Not just your basic Predestined v Free Will, eternal security, or are Infant Baptisms ok debates? There are more serious divisions where when we do not agree on the interpretation of a passage of scriptures then someone must be a HERETIC... when maybe we really don't know and simply disagree. But then to be fair again.. some teachings are heresy.
God save us! No really, GOD SAVE US!
Now take it with a grain of salt that you are reading a blog from 'a grownup' who draws cartoons, but the following is my exhaustive (or exhausting) guide to Closed Fist and Open Hands in the Church.
The reason for writing today's blog was fueled by ongoing battles among well known evangelicals, and then watching the 'Christian' media and 'Christian' social media fanning the flames that divide us.
Of course I do believe in addressing sin and true heresy in the church. BUT.. I pray for a biblical approach.
Sigh.. Maybe from time to time I will just open my clenched fist and slap myself.
I am not positive today's blog is helpful, but the spirit of it is on my heart. May God use my fumbling words to speak truth or the desire for us all to seek truth.
May God bless you in your busy lives. Be true to God, stand for Him, know your Bibles, have good friends, and eat all your veggies. :)
Jeff ( in between a slap, tickle, & a fist fight) Larson
"I am off to pick a fight." is one of my favorite lines from one the movie.. ‘BraveHeart’.. not to be confused with Brave-Bird. see picture -->
BraveHeart is the story of William Wallace of Scotland fighting for the FRREEEDOMM against the oppressive rule of England. At one dramatic scene from the movie BraveHeart the Scots who were greatly outnumbered by the English are about to do battle. The well armed, well trained English did not take this rag-tag Scottish army seriously. But then after declaring.. “I am off to PICK A FIGHT.” .. in rides William Wallace (Mel Gibson) on his horse to mess with the peace negotiations between the Scots and England.
I won’t get into the details, but Wallace taunts and mocks the English until.. yes THERE WAS A FIGHT… and the Scots win!
The significant message of this movie is a call to do what is right no matter the cost, even the cost of maybe their lives.
Of course as modern day Christians we are not called to look for a fight, but we should NEVER be afraid to FIGHT for God's Truth. We answer to God, not to man. Some may cry out.. No, no, not the Crusades again…I go to church, I am a good person.. Please no Crusades 2019 unless they are like the Billy Graham Crusades. Billy Graham is good and I don't remember him in a fight.
Others recall.. "Jesus was about love. That's the Jesus we like.. the one about love. we don't associate with Christians who speak out against abortion, Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, or the LGBTQ like claims that there are more genders than Baskin Robbins has flavors of ice cream (31). Then the media beats their drum of secular outrage with stories about the dangerous bigoted 'religious right'. They guilt many for wanting to build a wall, owning a gun, or for even being white. Why should I feel guilty that my parents were white? Then every election year like lemmings we are pressured to run full speed off either a republican or democrat/socialist cliff following our political allegiances before considering God's Truth.
We are afraid of the fight if we are political, pro-Israel, or against Sharia Law lest we be labeled a Islamophobe. Please I am not one of THOSE Christians. I am a good person, who never makes waves.. I am like Jesus who is about love.. remember? All this pressure to conform and fear of a fight with our society railing against traditional Christian values melts many into doing their best Piglet of Winnie the Pooh fame (a devout pacifist).. as we fret and worry stammering “Oh d-dear, oh d-dear!!.
But let's slow down and consider a couple examples from our Bibles.
David, leveled the giant Goliath, and cut off his head for daring to mock God. There was no peace negotiations with the enemy of God, and there was victory for David standing up against this Pagan.
and the best example..
Jesus the Son of God...
To summarize the example of Jesus, and how this should set with his church.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated Jesus before it hated you. If you are of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but Jesus chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Most likely we are not called to a literal bloody nose like fight, or to be the church version of Antifa.. but never EVER back down from living and teaching God's truth.
Important Note: Picking a Fight is also the fight for THOSE IN NEED, and the LOST? What good is our faith if it is only about our own well being?
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
May God bless each of us today as we pursue and defend God’s truth. May God smile at, and bless our sincere efforts to serve Him and others, and lovingly correct us when we fall… and may God bless us and use us in ways that are BEYOND OUR DREAMS.
Jeff (bruise like a peach) Larson
note: With us all in the fight for God's Truth, let's calm down the internal fights in the church. We should stand for God's word to be honored in the church and while there are differences in the body.. The cry of "heretic" is overused by those we differ with.
Q: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God? <pause> A: Hmmm, maybe. What are we talking about, I mean I need some context here before I swear.
Ok, I do not believe this type of answer would fly well in a court of law. Truth is truth, and I should not be afraid of the truth. Right? Or can't I handle the Truth?
How about outside the court of law where I do not have to swear on a bible? Can I fudge or tweak the truth so it does not look so blessed incriminating? I mean to say.. that check is really in the mail.. almost. :)
What if a wife asks her hubby: "Are these pants too tight?" In this case, be truthful.. BUT choose your words wisely so they are not your LAST.
On the flip side if a husband asks: "How do I look?" There is a better than 75% chance the hubby will receive the whole truth and nothing but the unfiltered truth.
For all of the above and more truth in love is a beautiful thing. Truth is not always convenient, and it may sting a little or A LOT, but avoiding the truth will not make it go away.
Also the church (we are the church) are called to share the good news (THE TRUTH) of Jesus Christ. To not share this gospel message of salvation would be unloving.
Think about it,, If there is ONE WAY to Heaven through Jesus Christ then we must preach Christ always in our words and deeds. Do not apologize for this truth! If you believe in Heaven and Hell then as family, friend, neighbor, and/or citizen we cannot remain silent when the Truth of Jesus is eternally important.
While this subject of deep down nook and crannies of our lives truth feels a bit intrusive it must be a cornerstone to our faith. We should embrace truth in love for ourselves and others, and share the truth the only way to Heaven is Jesus Christ.
My prayer today is for us all to be truthful and loving in word and deed. Remember, 1 Corinthians 13 shares all is meaningless (including Truth) without love. In all things, To God be the glory.
Jeff (mostly-honest) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson