Most of us remember the story of Jesus telling Peter to walk on water, but as 'Pete' noticed the VERY REAL waves about him and as the seeming nonsense of walking on water began to sink in.. so did Peter.
When I was younger I thought “Oh Pete of little faith, I would have done cartwheels on the sea with my perfect faith of Jesus intact”. But now after wading around in the seas of life’s experience.. I see the waves in my life are just as real as those literal waves Peter faced 2000 years or so ago, and at best I look like Gilligan hollering for SKIPPER!..
but of course this analogy falls flat as I am not comparing the Skipper with Jesus... and I am too 'husky' to be Gilligan... BUT I DIGRESS!
So with my assessment that my faith is often at best an undersized mustard seed as I choose to get out of the boat and trust God. I may sink at times like Peter but.. the same Jesus who calmed the seas, healed the sick, fed the multitudes, walked on water, and rose from the grave is my answer to life’s figurative (but VERY REAL) waves of health, finance, family, or fear.
I could expound on this fact, as like many of you I experience seasons of waves, and tests that put my trust in God to the test.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart soul and mind and lean not unto your own understanding .. in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Pr 3:5-6
EASY WORDS to say.. DIFFICULT WORDS to comprehend just like walking on water MAKES NO SENSE.. but I choose to believe both to be true.
May God bless each of you this day in your journey. May we all learn to trust God when life is great, when life is difficult, or when all seems lost.
Trust in the Lord as your providence, Trust in the Lord as your source for answers, Trust in the Lord for blessings, and Trust in the Lord for perspective that is beyond the limits of any circumstance.. so even when the waves swell and the storms rage.. we can give the triumphant shout..
SURFS UP Blessings!
Lo-Batt Signal 2020
Low-Batt Signal sounds like a problem in Gothom City where the Joker, Riddler, and the Penguin are on a Crime Spree and Commissioner Gordon needs Batman and Robin NOW but the Bat Signal needs to replace a couple AAA Batteries. Hence the Lo-Bat signal
Ok, today I am not concerned about that low Batman Signal, but I can experience trouble with a Lo-Batt Signal in my 'spirit'.
Let me explain..
Most every Sunday I attend a church which is made of great folk who seek to worship God and listen to God's word. While like I said are 'great folk' there is no doubt none are perfect as this is the condition of mankind since Adam. They are welcoming to all, and have a great little coffee shop in the fellowship area, and... I like coffee! The church service includes worship that is just that.. worship and not a 'worship show', and the pastor is honest a relevant challenging scripture based, grace filled message.
Also on every other Sunday evening my wife and I belong to a small group bible study with friends from church to study God's word, share, and pray together.
So a quick check of my spiritual battery on most Sunday evenings I appear in good shape for another week.
Then Monday comes, followed by it's evil sidekicks Tuesday - Friday. The Good News shared on Sunday is replaced by 24/7 Bad News channels. Oh good does happen but that does not sell ads for CNN, FOX, CBS, NBC, or ABC. Oh, and in a year like 2020 with Covid and now election times it is 10x worse than any other year.
So my Sunday Spirit is hijacked with a slogan that resembles a 'What happens in Vegas , stays in Vegas'. attitude. and.. there is rush hour traffic!
Monday through Friday replaces the generosity found when the offering plate is passed on Sunday with a land of greed. Greed in the work place, and greed in a society where wants are more important than needs.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot almost every Monday-Friday after working 8 hours I am TIRED. It's November now and within an hour after getting home from work it is getting dark, and I live in Minnesota so it goes without saying it is getting cold. All this is draining on my spirit and creating in me a LO-BATT condition.
Ok, as 'per usual' I do embellish a bit, but I do not think I am the only one who feels drained by the week and wondering where that Sunday Spirit has gone.
So what's a lo-batt fella like me supposed to do?
Here are a few tips I try to follow...
1. Be sure to get enough sleep. Don't underestimate the power of sleep unless you are doing it at work. :(
2. Go on a TV Diet. Don't bloat your brain on 24/7 bad news, or UNREAL reality TV, etc etc
3. Quit looking at your phone, and instead enjoy friends and family while enjoying the peace & quiet uncluttered by #2 (your TV diet).
4. Read a good book, even better yet The Good Book. and stay in an attitude of prayer.
5. Be prayerful, thankful, and trust God. Most complaining, and worry create a big battery drain.
These are just a few of my basics to avoid a Lo-Batt condition of my spirit, and your just say NO to Lo-Batt list may vary.
I pray today you find the love of God and the pursuit of Him in all things energizes you in this busy life. Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and others as yourself. The rest is by comparison.. trivial pursuit.
May your Sunday's always charge your batteries, and your Mon-Fri be no match for your life in tune with Jesus.
Jeff (Bring it on!) Larson
JOYFUL.. without a goofy grin
Sometimes Christians are just so smiley and so ‘Ned Flanders-like’ happy I could just slug-em. I know the joy of the Lord is my strength, but what’s with the ‘goofy-grins’?
I heard a good sermon a while back about the Fruit of God’s Spirit. You know.. love, joy, peace.. blah, blah, blah… and included in this list is JOY which I happen to misplace from time to time in my life..
Real Joy is not a serene surreal spiritual experience, but instead every day rubber meets the road with a pot-hole or two along the way experience.
Real joy is independent of circumstance. Most of us may not have your state of joy challenged by jail time, but joyful despite bumper to bumper traffic is instead our modern day challenge. Joy is even independent of having Covid-19.
How about joyful when doing the dishes? How about joyful and QUIET while doing the dishes?
How about.. Can I be joyful when
.. it appears God procrastinates, or
.. when my financial status and credit rating are less than (MAYBE WAAAY LESS) than perfect?
.. how about joyful when like today.. I have back spasms.
Yes.. joy is found in the difficult, tedious, stressful, and despite pain.
Can I be joyful when my relative prosperity can only be measured by God? … or can I be joyful when I have been married for what seems like one bazillion years! After a bazillion years of marriage your newlywed young love and passion is slowly replaced with something that includes a few disagreements (aka fights), money & health issues, raising kids without a road map, and living your til death do us part marriage with too often more questions than answers.
BUT.. we can learn so much from Jesus about joy. I don’t believe Jesus was the subdued passive image of joy and God that we often stereotype.
I believe Jesus was both passionate, and expressive. Jesus knew when it was time to be serious, worshipful, diligent all while being the friend of the common folk all while never compromising God’s values or God’s truths. I believe His joy was found in being faithful and unwavering to the Father in all circumstances.
Children loved Jesus, and sinners were attracted to Him because of his teaching was the perfect blend of truth with hope. The Pharisees hated Jesus for this very same teaching of perfect truth with hope.
The Gospels are full of Jesus telling great stories with purpose that resonated with man, but maybe Jesus laughed out loud and told great jokes. Maybe ‘milk comin out yer nose jokes.’
<pause> Ok, scratch that last one, that goes beyond even the goofy grin category of joy.
My point is that Jesus was real. He did not need to be vulgar or crass to be noticed, but he certainly would not be confused with Ned Flanders. It was not a somber sober demeanor that attracted people to Jesus, it was a man who loved life and lived his life with a joyful passionate purpose that honored God the father and cared for His fellow man.
I won’t even digress ‘long’ on my next point, BUT Jesus turned water into wine AFTER all the wine was gone. He did not make Welch’s Grape Juice, it was wine. Point is .. maybe Jesus liked to laugh and have fun with friends.. and we should to. PLEASE NOTE.. THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF DRINK (I personally don't drink anymore as I was not very good at it.. or too good at it..BUT I DIGRESS) .. I am just thinking out loud.
So where do we find Joy today?
Now with all of the bad news in our world right now.. my joy is challenged. I think of the Covid-19 related issues, racial tensions, hatred, greed, the media who lie as easy as they tell the truth, and all this stirred by the 2020 elections.
All of this and what I see as the Church (Christians) who are not salt and light. A church that compromises God's loving firm truth with the compromised views of our secular society. A church that lives in fear and too often is more concerned with offending the world, than offending God. A church that lives in Fear instead of Hope.
note: I am not pointing a finger at others here.. as I am a part of the Church. This is a sober reminder to love one another while we love and obey God.
Now back to the answer of the question.. Where do we find joy today? Know that joy is not found in who wins the upcoming elections. There are consequences to our actions, our votes, and in the direction our country chooses.
Our joy is found in the Lord through difficult times. It does matter that we love and obey God, but even if the whole world chooses NOT to obey God.. we must stand strong with Him always. Through good times and bad.. Joy is ultimately and eternally found in obedience and love of our God.
So there you have it. Maybe there is a world of Christian existence that is somewhere between a Ned Flanders goofy grin, and those Christians who look like they are in pain in church.
How will those people survive in Heaven when they learn they will have to be happy. So ‘Smile Mon!’
Joyful Christians without goofy grins? I know it will be a challenge, but we are just the people to do it.
May God bless and use each of you in ways that are beyond your dreams. I pray you find joy in the Lord in every circumstance.
Jeff (silly smirking) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson
Back Pew - Draw Close to God
116 pages of cartoons of 'Clean Humor & God's Truth'
CRITICS ARE SAYING..
Laughter is just a CLICK away