Often the coffee maker in the workplace is the common place for socializing. While pouring a cup of caffeinated fuel there is talk about the big football game on Sunday, sharing vacation plans, some are brave enough to discuss politics and/or religion and have lived to tell the tale (not recommended), and of course the ever popular grumbling about the boss (the emperor who has no clothes) in hushed tones.
In the same way the coffee maker at church is a place where friends catch up on each other's lives while a few may feel compelled to share the height and depths (and some bologna) on weighty spiritual matters.
So imagine the buzz around the coffee maker in Heaven a little over 2000 years ago when God's plan for ‘saving’ mankind was revealed?
SETTING: It was just another day at the 'office' when Larry and Betty meet at 'Heaven's Coffee Maker' for their morning cup of Joe.
Larry the Angel: "Hey Betty, did you hear the latest about the plan the boss has for saving the world?"
Betty The Angel: "No, so what's up?"
Larry the Angel: "Well rumor has it, Jesus Christ will come to earth as a child born of a virgin in a barn and sleep in a feeding trough for animals. His birth will not be proclaimed to the world, but to .. get this.. shepherds." And a few smart guys from the east.
Betty The Angel: "Shepherds? .. right."
Larry the Angel: "No really it's true. , and Jesus will be raised by a common carpenter and his wife" and for the next almost 30 years in rural Israel.
Betty The Angel: " Good one Larry, and so being a carpenter.. he will then build his father's kingdom." LOL.. Get it?
Larry the Angel: "I know this sounds bizarre, but I heard it all from a very reliable source. And that's not all. Next, Jesus will choose 12 men to assist him as key members of his kingdom
Betty The Angel: "You mean like a presidential cabinet of sorts? Made up I imagine of priests, rabbis, maybe a few influential politicians, and some sort of minister of defense would seem
Larry the Angel: "No, .. they are mostly fishermen."
Betty The Angel: "I see.. fishermen... So far we have Jesus born in a barn in obscurity except to shepherds, his critical years of development to be the King and Savior are spent as a carpenter instead of seminary?
Larry the Angel: "I know, I know.. but that's not all. Next Jesus will take on the established religious community. He will challenge, and mock their pious rules and their motives.. which of course flies like a politically incorrect Lead Balloon."
Betty The Angel: "Well if this is true, then what else could they expect. Now who is it you said you heard this all from? You were not talking to Cliffy from the mail room again were you? I know this is Heaven, but Cliff is full of it."
Larry the Angel: "No Betty it wasn't Cliff, it was from a very reliable source. Now be quiet for a minute and let me finish.. then you can let your jaw drop to the floor... because there is more."
Betty The Angel: [ Betty motions that she is zipping her lip and smiles.. in silence ]
Larry the Angel: "All of this leads to a final week when the salvation message is realized. Jesus in this unconventional plan lulls the leaders of the day into .. falsely arresting him, mocking him, he is beaten and whipped to the point of death. Then to a jeering crowd he is lead up to a hill where he is crucified as a common criminal while being rejected by the people he came to save... JUST THE WAY HE PLANNED IT ALL ALONG."
Larry the Angel: Of course Jesus will not stay dead. He will rise from the dead, but not everyone will witness this.. and so believing in Jesus, and accepting his free gift of salvation will be a matter of choice and it will require a personal faith in things not seen.
Betty The Angel: [still silent, Betty stands with her arms crossed]
Larry the Angel: "That's it Betty, believe me or not.. that is the God's honest truth (no pun intended)." <pause> "Ok, now you can speak."
Betty The Angel: I don't know who put you up to this.. but I would NOT tell these wild tales to anyone else... This is all CRAZY TALK.. and I have better things to do with my time. Next time you learn anymore 'Revelations' .. get it in writing on God's very own BLESSED executive stationary!! Next time.. you should consider your sources before swallowing it all hook line and sinker.
Betty walks away shaking her head. Larry refills his coffee cup and heads back to work perplexed why Betty did not believe him.
Ok, it may not have played out like this, but the story of Jesus life from the virgin birth that first Christmas and his 30 years on Earth culminating with his resurrection from the grave is such a beautifully unexpected story of salvation.
So next time at work when you are getting your coffee refill ponder the great news of God's salvation plan that began that first Christmas.
ps - Share the Good News!
Jeff ( a lot lower than the angels) Larson
Drawing a line.. is a topic I can so easily relate to. Drawing lines, and coloring inside those lines.. and viola' I have a cartoon. Everybody loves cartoons.. ok, some of us more than others, but hey.. it's what I do.
Now the beauty and curse of a cartoon it allows me the liberty of exaggeration. Exaggeration in a world with big noses, bellies, expressions, and points of view. The lines drawn in cartoons are just outside the lines where reality exists and in this world, I am among friends.
So while I like cartoons and the work of great cartoonists they are obviously not likely found in an Art Gallery.
True art draw lines along with colors and shadows that are amazingly true to the subject of their creation.
This world of true art exists in sharp contrast to my world of cartoons with the above mentioned exaggeration of lines, shadows, and colors to distort truth for the purpose the humor or illustrate a particular point of view.
So then we come to God's Word, His never changing Truth. There are clear lines drawn within it's pages of right and wrong, good and evil, love and hate. The pages of our Bible's are TRUE ART. These lines are perfect with a message that is both honest and loving.
Of course using my finite mind I struggle at times to grasp the depths of these truths and honestly at times DO NOT UNDERSTAND what I am reading.. BUT.. never the less these NEVER CHANGING truths are constant, flawless, and does not need the collective so-called enlightenment of any man from Adam through this very minute including a certain cartoonist from Minnesota.
Here in lies the dilemma.. I observe a trend in today's church to believe the perfect lines of God's unchanging truths need to be redrawn. Too many believe the Bible is outdated and in order to fit God's word into their 'evolved cultured' sensibilities they in effect redact passages they do not agree with and/or use scripture out of context to fit their narrative. These man 'inspired' efforts draw new progressive lines and proceed to color outside the perfect lines of God's inspired word. These efforts make a cartoon out of God's perfect loving Bible truths.
Let me share examples of these sharp contrasting lines
SIMPLE RIGHT & WRONG
GENDER & MARRIAGE
LUST & ADULTERY
CARING V SELFISH
We are called to of course be sensitive, compassionate, and loving regarding all issues of the day but this includes God's firm loving Truths. Remember true love is found only in these firm Biblical Truths.
And.. the next time someone tells you "I like Jesus but not Christians because Jesus was about love. Christians are mostly judgmental, hateful, bigoted, sexist, patriarchal homophobes." In response to this read them Luke 12:49-5
Not Peace, but Division Luke 12:49-53 49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Finally, if we are not careful even those of us who are not progressives allow God's lines to be changed into a caricature at best, or even worse into a big ol' ugly cartoon instead of the beautiful piece of art God's Word is. STAY INSIDE THE LINES, LIVE INSIDE THESE LINES.
May God bless each of you with discernment regarding God's Truths while being salt and light in bitter dark society.
Jeff (Drawing lots of lines) Larson
As this tumultuous 2020 Election season grinds along into late November I share the timeless truths found in the words of Apostle Paul.
If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. . If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing... 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
and may I add.. If I vote for the 'correct' candidates based on issues of the day but do not have love.. well.. I CLANG!
More derisive and farther from love than a bitter Hollywood marriage/divorce/reality TV show is the 2020 election season. Our American election process is a model of the 1 Corinthians 13:1 CYMBAL.
Now, over two weeks since election night.. the stories of election fraud are growing. I am not even saying who are the winners but only to declare election fraud is real and it is HUGE.
In our America weeks after the election bags of uncounted votes continue to be found in various and sundry nooks and cranny locations including in Florida a bag of ballots the stomach of a large gator. Ok, I made the gator one up. In Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada just to name a few stories of corruption and fraud clang loudly their 1 Corinthians 13:1 Cymbals. Votes were even discovered with the body of Jimmy Hoffa (and Jimmy voted!) in an undisclosed location. Ok, surprise I made the Hoffa one up too.
Don't get me wrong, elections are important, and so is my vote, and there are many good candidates, but the process often strays far from issues of substance and is reduced to demonizing your opponent. It is not that we disagree (even strongly) but instead our opponent is Hitler, Stalin, Darth Vader, The Joker, and Hanibal Lector all rolled into one... and they tease cats!
Then we go to church on Sunday for a reprieve from this bad old election vibe with all the good people of God. But if I read the 'Christian press' 'the church is also divided by political, and racial lines. I hear the terms 'white evangelicals' , and 'Christian 'conservatives' placed on us that are.. white and/or conservative. CLANG, CLANG. Hey.. I resemble those remarks! I'm a White Evangelical Christian that is conservative.
But it is not just about race, it is abortion, the border, gay marriage where we don't just disagree with are divided, and oh do we ever CLANG.
The good news is there is only God's Truth and it goes well beyond race and/or political issue or persuasion. We are all God's children red and yellow, black and white, or politically red or blue are precious in his sight. But .. without love, and a willingness to obey His word.. our God blessed differences become divisions implied and/or real.
God's two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart soul and mind and love others as ourselves. Love does not CLANG. Oh we will see differently on issues on solutions and methods for society to live by but let's pray for God's Truth (his word) to be our guide. I pray I am and we all are sensitive to others who are different than we are and that race and our God blessed unique wirings (differences) all are first and foremost God honoring.
In Christ we are the same.. one body many different parts, and viva la difference.
May God bless and use each of you in the ways we are uniquely wired serve Him and others.
Hey.. you know what? I can no longer TOLERATE you INTOLERANT Christians.
You are un-WOKE, anti-LGBTQ right wingers who are Neanderthal in your treatment of women and her right to.. 'choose'. You are bible thumping, gun owning nut jobs voting blindly Republican every election like lemmings heading off a political cliff.
The only progressive thought in your life is considering a Progressive Insurance policy.
Ok the above rambling is my 'semi' exaggeration of the average 'progressive' Joe Secular. While I have overstated the views of 'Joe', the negative perception in society and fueled by the media is very real.
This whole INTOLERANCE label is concerning me. I agree when the heart and mind of the church becomes judgmental we are merely legalistic in our words and actions... living breathing CLANGING CYMBALS, 1 Cor 13:1. BUT when we truly love God, we naturally honor Him with obedience in our words and actions. Truth in Love where we do not force our faith on others, BUT in all our ways acknowledge him first.
So this all leads me to my INTOLERANT JESUS. Of course Jesus healed the sick, the blind, the lame, and raised the dead. BUT he also lovingly told TRUTH to a compromised world. Jesus admonished his disciples, spoke frankly to the rich young ruler, the woman at the well, and instructed Nicodemus he must be born again.
Jesus also shared clearly the ONLY way to Heaven, "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me". John 14:6. In all his words and actions Jesus was TRUTH IN LOVE. The end result, the world rejected him and Jesus was crucified by basically the same people who were praising him just 5 days earlier.
Let me leave you with the words of my 'INTOLERANT JESUS' to his disciples in John 15:18-25 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
I pray we remember these words as encouragement to stand strong for TRUTH, but but but also to remember to be Truth in Love always.
Supersized and drive through meals ... delivered freaky fast your way that are finger lickin' good. These are a few fast food 'conveniences' for our fast paced lives in the fast lane. I am guilty of participating in both ordering my share of supersized McArtery Clogger Value Meals, and using the drive through for lunch, lattes, and my banking needs. Life is busy and there is a time and a place for fast food, and fast service but there is a time and a place to SLOW DOWN.
Now as I segue to my faith journey.. I find awkward parallels to our fast food society.
1. I want the blessings on my life supersized now please,
2. I sometimes pray like I am using a drive thru window. I don't even slow down to say hello to God but place my order/prayer list with the angel stationed at my drive thru prayer window. And..
3. my patience for His answers rivals my belief that microwave popcorn still takes waaay too long.
Moral of this blurb is.. God does listen to and answer my freaky fast faith moments (sometimes that is all I have), BUT how much better my perspective is when ..
There will be those times where freaky fast faith is all we have time for, but let's purposefully slow down and make time with God that is more than a microwaved/reheated moment of spiritual nourishment. Maybe a home cooked God's Family Meal... with desert.
Hmm.. I am getting hungry.
May God bless and use each of you for His glory in SUPERSIZED ways
Jeff (McBack Pew) Larson
The Bible in many ways is a RULE BOOK FOR LIFE, but beyond the Bible lists of Dos and Don’ts I find JESUS LOVES ME. Not actually beyond this but wrapped around these rules for life is the truth Jesus loves me.
The Bible also includes many great and powerful acts of God ..
In the Old Testament there was..
In the Gospels Jesus ..
but.. with all these jaw dropping miracles they all are just very loud clanging cymbals with the great truth Jesus loves me and He loves you!
Jesus loves me, this is know.. cute Sunday School song, but.. why would the creator of this world love? It’s a miracle.
While It is nearly impossible to get to know the preacher in any modern day big church (no knock on big) but in contrast our omniscient, omnipresent creator is involved with His creation to the point where all the above mentioned miracles and all the details in between occurring from Genesis 1 through this moment is NOT indifferent to His creation, though mankind often walks the other way, God is always there. <-- side note: I just completed a 72 word run-on sentence of truth.
The words in our Bibles shout the truth of a personal God who loves us enough to send His us his son. From the Old Testament stories of providence, to the gospels of Jesus Christ, to the Acts of the first church, to the Revelations to John of what is to come... these are all LOVE STORIES from a loving God!
An indifferent God would not be so involved or patient with mankind and it's often prone to wonder actions of free will.
So In this 24/7 world of distractions from our creator, let’s realize JESUS LOVES US, and live out in response God's two greatest commandments. Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, and mind and others as yourself.
Jesus love me this I know! Go figure! Peace be Still! Jesus love me this I know! The rest is details.
Jeff (Jesus loves me this I know) Larson
sidepoint: I bought a coffee coaster that says.. Jesus loves you, BUT I'm His favorite. While this is of course not true ( He loves us all the same ) but I thought it was a cute smirky coaster.
It's a big day for ME today as August 11th, 2020 is my 36th wedding anniversary. On that day in 1984 Mary Kay Laun said 'YES' (WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?!)... and she became my wife.
August 11th was a little more hectic 36 years ago. On that day before cell phones with the wedding set for 11 a.m., my groomsmen took me out for breakfast. Well, Mary could not get me on the old landline phone and assumed the worst. Either 1. they kidnapped me, or 2. I got cold (size 12) feet and ran far away.
note: I am writing about my wedding anniversary so rest assured I was on time for our 11 a.m. wedding.
This morning in contrast, we shared morning coffee and chocolate chip muffins while lounging in our pjs after taking our morning doses of ibuprofen. We did pray together and thanked God for these 36 years which included ups and downs. Those newlywed anticipation of 'starting our lives together butterflys' are replaced with anxious anticipation for those above mentioned chocolate chip muffins. love is still in the air for us two old love birds.. but .. rumor has it.. so is COVID-19.
Our plans for 11 a.m. this year is not renewing our vows as the sunsets holding hands exchanging goofy young love grins but instead we visited a local sunflower farm where the above picture was taken exchanging a 'smirking kiss' under our masks safe from the reaches of Covid-19 and Governor Tim Walz mandates. This was followed by fine dining of chic-fil-a for lunch, a walk in the park on this beautiful summer day, and tonight finish our celebration of 36 years of bliss by cooking a steak on the grill tonight at home.
But though what happened was 36 years ago.. I do remember
This was my 3 step plan for happiness with Mary as the love of my life, best friend, and a true gift from God.
We filled those 36 years with looks, stares, glares, loving glances, rolled eyes, kisses, quarrels, while raising 3 kids that cluttered up our home with good times, great memories… and lessons learned. Our family titles have included husband & wife, mom & dad, and now.. WE ARE GRANDMA and GRANDPA. Best job ever!
So in honor of our Anniversary let me share a few questions that if answered correctly are like … maybe a gift of a 1/2 dozen red roses. <pause> ok I admit they are not like roses, but there are 6 of 'em... and your wife will like you better when you answer correctly.
Behold 6.. Simple Answers by Simple Men to Simple Questions by her
Q1: Are your pants too tight? A: NO DEAR
Q2: Are you listening to me? A: YES DEAR.. your cute little opinion is important to me. (scratch that last part)
Q3: Do you have something to say?.. NO .. NOT REALLY
Q4: Do I leave the toilet seat up? MAYBE.. um no, the dog did it.
Q5: Will I still love you when you are old? MORE THAN EVER
Q6: Do you want to go shopping with me? OK.. I GUESS
So.. in conclusion.. Happy Anniversary to Mary.. and me-self! How time flies when you are marry the right woman.
Proverbs 31:10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
Jeff (I found a gem) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson