Ready, set, go! These are the words spoken to start a backyard or neighborhood race, but NOT an Olympic 100-meter race. I think they use a pistol. But for today's ramble, I 'ready, set, go' will suffice as I discuss the race called 'LIFE.'
Of course, in 'LIFE,' the goal is NOT to finish fast (aka die young), but instead run a good race (2 Timothy 4:7) and live life to the full (John 10:10).
READY SET GO... Life starts at conception, and in about 9 months, there is a new born baby. But as we all know, babies are not very FAST.
But no matter if babies are slow out of the gate (they sleep a lot) it is our READY SET GO starting point.
So go already... GO!
My 'ready set go' baby moment was in August 1957. I was raised by loving Christian parents, gave my heart to Jesus at age 6, and was baptized at 14, all while my family attended a small-town church where I learned to love Jesus.
After this, I did my version of grown-up life by getting a job, falling in love, getting married, having kids, and owning a dog or two. Dogs are important.
Important Note: I was (and am) a pretty good guy., but any 'pretty good guy or gal' lives any of us live is a relative existence when compared to others instead of God's Word.
Over the years, I have made several observations
Mistakes will be made on everyone's LIFE journey. Poor choices and unfortunate circumstances can leave us at times with overwhelming regrets and burdens. BUT... God's Grace redeems a repentant heart. Do not be anchored to your past. With Jesus, there is hope for us all. God listens and answers prayers in big and small ways. Trust in Him, and don't dwell on your past.
And WHEN not IF you fall, it's never too late to begin again knowing God loves you (John 3:16).
Ready, set, GO already as you prayerfully ... Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8.
No GPS is required...
And it goes without saying...avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Route 666, even if society's GPS recommends it as the easiest and fastest route. Instead, be on the less traveled narrow road using God's Word and prayer as your guide that leads on the right path for this life and someday Heaven. Mt 7:13-14.
This ends my 'Ready, set... GO!' summary of life. It matters eternally how you run this race. I pray we all run it in a way that shows our love for God and others.
May God bless and lead each of you on your own 'Ready Set Go' journey. Whether you live to be 100 or not, this life is a blink of an eye. Finish Well.
Jeff (Already 66 years down this road! YIKES!) Larson
I grew up in the ‘metropolis’ of Cable Wisconsin with a population of about 280. Highway 63 travels through Cable, and rush hour was from 7:45 am to 7:47 am, and returned from 4:58 pm to 5:02 pm. Traffic jams was only urban legend warning us of the EVIL big city.
I now live in Coon Rapids, a suburb of Minneapolis Minnesota. (the big city) and for years have experienced real rush hour traffic. I know first hand about traffic jams, busy streets, road construction, and the skyline of downtown Minneapolis is just a few miles away and is filled with impressive tall buildings. The skyline of downtown Cable is.. trees. This is my skyline of choice.
In Cable the night is quiet, the few stores in town close down by early evening, with only maybe an occasional car can be heard in the distance going down highway 63, and the sky is filled with stars. I live in a quiet neighborhood in Coon Rapids, but the busyness of the city is never too far away, and the city lights make the stars in the sky appear dim. I love it here, BUT I do miss my hometown.
So the moral of the story.. You can take the BOY out of the small town, but you can't take the small town out of the BOY.
So in honor of small towns .. let me share a tribute to.. Small Towns and Rednecks.
Small Towns ..where we might not be like dem city churches with a la-ti-da pipe organ. and GEE-TARS, but we gots us a BANJO! We are God fearin' people who Pray real good, and though we might not dress in any fancy suits we are lookin plenty spiffy in our own way, and have set high standards regarding our men wearing HATS while makin' exceptions in Wisconsin where Women can wear 'hats' like the FELLAS every fall.
But don't you worry yer little ol self none.. our pastor may be preachin from behind a Freight Crate Pulpit, where you hear sermons with practical life object lessons on DUCT TAPE. And.. every service ends we are sent out into 'the woods'? with the Red Neck Great Commission GIT-R-DUN!
But like all churches we did have a split a few years back over theology. No it has nuttin to do wit' baptism (once the ice is off the lakes we baptize everything but cats), or raisin yer hands, or speakin in tongues (couple fellers know pig latin). We don't care if U-R-A Calvinist, or even a Viking fan... but we don't handle Snakes.
So come join the country folk worshiping the same God as the city folk. One body, many parts. One family, many cuzin's. One church.. some from the city and some in the woods.. but the important point to make is - If yer KIN Yer In!
Well that is all for today. I am sure my whole website has a small town flavor and not just the toons I listed above. Small Town is a very good thing.
Have a great day, blessed by God in great ways.
note: In reality my home church is nothing like the redneck toons above. It definitely has a small town flavor, but it is a great church where the word of God is preached and is the place where I gave my heart to the Lord when I was 6 years old... and so small towns (specifically Cable Wisconsin) will always be special to me.
Praise God for small town churches, and for His people.
Jeff (country boy at heart) Larson
First off for Covid-19 and this no good very bad year 2020 I claim Psalms 91:2,5-6
2 I will say of the Lord,
He is my refuge & my
fortress, .. 5 YOU WILL NOT
FEAR the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the
darkness, nor the plague that
destroys at midday.
Now onward and forward I go with today's blog..
Like a curbside garbage collection, Bring out your Dead was the title of a skit from Monty Python’s movie ..The Search of the Holy Grail. The setting was ‘Medieval Times’ where the Black Plague is running through the land. Those of you who have not seen this bit are rightfully cringing.. and it is dark humor done only Python can do.
Well in my cartoon brain I segue to.. 'Bring Out Your Dead' is the message of the Gospels. Again, I am NOT making fun of sickness or death, but SIN is the Spiritual Black Plague on mankind since Adam .. separating man from our sinless God.
Then the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls out ‘Bring out your Dead!’ and I will give you LIFE.” In fact Jesus said..
"The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
HOPE where there was despair, and LIFE in place of death.
I must admit in the face of this truth .. I am not always living the victorious life God intends because I am a bit of a worry junkie which flies in the face of the peace that passes all understanding that God intends for me (see 2 Corinthians 10:5, and Philippians 4:7) I am good at borrowing trouble from tomorrow and if not careful with all that borrowing.. I build up a 'trouble' debt!
BUT I WANT LIFE AND WANT IT TO THE FULL! Not full like a protestant at a potluck dinner.. but instead full of God's peace and perspective and love that goes beyond any earthly circumstance.
So today is a good day to Bring out the dead in my life.. confess my fears failures, sins and trust that God's Grace, and be assured He is ALL THAT I NEED. Jesus is LIFE in a world that is DEAD.
Like Lazarus physically rising from the grave we are made spiritually alive in Christ.
Oh Death where is your victory?
Oh Death where is your sting?
I Corinthians 15:55
May God bless each of you with LIFE TO THE FULL.. motivated by a love for God and others.
Jeff (I'm not dead yet) Larson
I checked Google last night and discovered August 14th is the birthday of a number of significant men.
Happy 33rd Birthday wishes to Heisman Trophy winning football player Tim Tebow! I have such admiration for this true man of God.
Happy 70th Birthday wishes to American cartoonist and creator of The Far Side cartoon series Gary Larson! As a cartoonist, The Far Side cartoons are simply my favorite.
Happy 118th Birthday wishes to my Grandpa John Ross! Grandpa Ross passed away a number of years ago at the age of 92? But this true Northern Wisconsin character was always special to me .. as I was born on his birthday.. soooo..
Happy 63rd Birthday wishes to me! I am neither famous or infamous.. but it still is my birthday, and my blog so there.
Now while I am a nobody to most everybody, I am somebody to my wife Mary, my grown kids Curtis, Nathan, and Erin. And my Grandkids Everett 9, Greyleigh 6, Leighton 4, and Reagan 2 think I am somebody, and they ALL are somebody to me. I am even hopeful I am somebody to my daughter in-laws Laura, and Kendra.. even if sometimes I am just somebody who bugs them. But hey, that's the job of this Father in-law. No one told me I had to be a pest.. I just thought it was my duty.
So I am taking a day, today, August 14th to celebrate 63 years that have included watching Tim Tebow play ball, Gary Larson draw toons, Grandpa Ross smoke his pipe, and then 36+ years blessed with the best wife EVER (but don't tell her), three kids I am so proud of, grandkids I love to tiny bits and pieces, and my daughter inlaws to pester and tease.
What else could a man want? Oh I know.
I would want to be the football fan of 13 time NFL champion, and four time Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers which is 4 more than let's say.. the Minnesota Vikings... just sayin'
So BAM.. I have lived a blessed 63 years, Lord Jesus thank you and you can take me anytime.. I am ready to go.
Ok, I got carried away there. Not ready to go, but I am thankful for my 63rd birthday even if it is wrapped in the WORST YEAR EVER 2020. Well, I have to get through 63 in 2020 to get to 64 in 2021.
I pray God blesses your lives with many birthdays, and blessings that make Methuselah envious.
note: I also discovered Methuselah who lived to be 969 years old was also born on August 14th. It's true! You don't believe me? prove me wrong. :)
Jeff (Old Man River) Larson
Today, I am sharing a memory from a couple summers before all things COVID-19 when LIFE began FLASHING before my eyes.
Life Flashing before my eyes..
In 7 short days I have experienced highs and lows, laughter and tears, life and death. I know most of all of us have weeks like this, but last week was my turn.
On Tuesday August 9th my Aunt Marie passed away unexpectedly at the age of 87. She was very special to me, Marie (known as Babe) was loved and will be missed of course by family and friends. We all grieve and are sad for our loss, but celebrate her arrival to Heaven where she is reunited with family, friends, and most importantly JESUS.
This is the paradox of the Christian experience where our existence moves from life on Earth, to death, then to Eternity in Heaven for those who love the Lord.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelations 21:4
Then Friday morning August 10th my long awaited (9+ months) expected third granddaughter Reagan Holland Larson arrived. SHE'S A KEEPER!
This of course is the best kind of news, and holding her the following morning was a perfect healing touch for my grieving heart.
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL.. Over these same 7 days my wife's family were in town for a reunion. There are six siblings in the Laun family.. ages 83, 82, 79, 77, 60, while my wife is the itsy bitsy BABY at age 57.
All six siblings were here with their spouses along with a smattering of kids and grandkids. Activities included sight seeing, a picnic, paddle boat ride on the Mississippi, and a (heart attack free )baseball game of sorts with players ranging from age 6 through 77.
This was a great time of celebrating family and heritage. All are doing well and actually still like each other. - Who knew families still like each other these days. -
Health of all siblings is good, but if some nefarious sort targeting senior citizens robbed us the highlight of their booty would selling our hearing aides on the black market. The only negative me spending that many days with Mary's family is that I ate waaay too much. I know, I don't have to eat so much, but.. mind your own business.
So there you have it, what a week. Life Flashing before my eyes? .. or as Mufasa from the Lion King explains.. This is the Circle of Life.
This Life is messy, including roller coaster moments wanting you to exit the ride, or 'hurl'. From birth through the family reunions to that day until this ride stops .. this life is a gift from God.
If you don't know Jesus, if you don't have a relationship with God.. now is the time to say YES to Him. Say YES acknowledging Him as savior of your life, and giving Him the proper place in your life. This life is flashing and will be gone before you know it.. then eternity.
I pray we all choose wisely, it matters eternally.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
May God bless each of your lives with joy in your journey. Remember always to love God, enjoy the big and little things of this life, love &care for others with the promise of someday Heaven for those who love Him. Because this life is FLASHING and then in the blink of an eye .. eternity.
update: Now 2 years later and life is still messy but good. My now 2 year old beautiful granddaughter Reagan has a smile that melts me. All my sibling-inlaws are doing well, and God is so good even in this most ugly of years 2020.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson