"I am off to pick a fight." is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies... ‘Braveheart’... not to be confused with Brave-Bird.
Braveheart is the story of William Wallace of Scotland fighting for the FRREEEDOMM against the oppressive rule of England.
In 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.” 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 attend church most every week, and I am a good person, and I bruise easily.
Please no Crusades 2024 unless they resemble the Billy Graham Crusades. Billy Graham was a terrific evangelist, and his crusades did not end up in any bloodshed.
Others will say... "Jesus was about love." That's the Jesus we like... The one about love. We don't associate with Christians who speak out against icky stuff like abortion, Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, LGBTQ rights, and the claims that there are more genders than Baskin Robbins has flavors of ice cream (31).
Then the media beats their drum a secular/pagan outrage with stories about the dangerous bigoted 'religious right'. They guilt many for wanting to build a wall, owning a gun, or just 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 (or ill-prepared for a fight).. afraid to stand for our FAITH. If we are political, pro-Israel, or against Sharia Law lest we be labeled as Islamophobic white patriarchal evangelicals. 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 'the pacifist' of Winnie the Pooh fame.. 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.
There was David who leveled the giant Goliath and cut off his head for daring to mock God. There were no peace negotiations with the enemy of God, and there was a victory for David empowered by God's Spirit standing up against this 'puny/giant' Pagan.
And the best example is 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
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. Romans 12:1-2
... seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
Most likely we are not called to a literal bloody nose-like fight/crusade, and certainly NOT the church version of ANTIFA.. but we must NEVER EVER back down from living and teaching God's truth. NOT AFRAID OF A FIGHT, or maybe even PICK ONE.
Important Note: This is NOT an endorsement of the so-called peaceful protests of 2020. All this misguided SJW angst-turned-rage mob (even in the church) is not of God. So put down that brick... AND instead, be ready and willing to Pick a Fight for and/or Serve 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 all our fights 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 to describe those we differ with. Making secondary issues into primary issues is SIN.
Render.. to provide or give (a service, help, etc.).
In the days of Jesus, the Roman Empire was the most ruthless political, social, and military power in the land. Their motto.. DON'T MESS WITH ROME, it won't end well.
The religious power at this time was in the clutches of those disapproving rigid rule keepers extra ordinaires.. The Pharisees enjoyed heaping frustrating layers of tedious legalism on top of God's simple, beautiful loving truths. Matthew 23:24
Then along comes Jesus sharing the perfect Gospel message of love and hope. John 10:10
On one day the religious leaders ask Jesus a trick question to trap Jesus with his answer. "Teacher, should we pay taxes to Caesar?".. Jesus replied "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Matthew 22:20-22 This was the original drop the mic moment before there were mics.
Meanwhile today in America our government is becoming a 'big brother' political & social power propped up by the main stream & social media. Their motto.. DON'T MESS WITH BIG BROTHER.. just like Rome, it won't end well.
Today's religious powers are a blend of world religions and the progressive 'Church' movement. They promote a collective faith (a higher power). They do not consider Christian Bible is not considered inerrant, and the beautiful truths on life it's pages are revised or redacted to fit their 'tolerant and evolved versions' of truth.
Then along comes the True Church sharing the perfect Gospel message of love and hope. Mark 16:15
So if we are asked a loaded question like.. "Who do you obey?.. Reply.. "Render unto America what is due, but give to God what is God's. Then.. drop the mic.
This blog message was born out of conversations with my wonderful wife Mary. Our country now has a new president and while some are excited America is headed in a new direction, others are very concerned.
Make no mistake there will be big changes, BUT.. no matter which side you are on remember the true message of Hope is in the Gospel message and not in American politics. No need to confuse love for country with love for God, and no need to become confused where our hope lies. It is in Jesus.
It is eternally more important to get the Gospel message right, than to get the tax code right.
May God bless each of you to stay true to the course of the Gospel message and place your hope and purpose in the Gospel message.
Jeff (Secretary of Crayons in the new Biden Administration) Larson
Finally a Leader from the NORTH!
With the elections coming up I want to be clear I am NOT talking about voting for POTUS or dog catcher.
Today instead I want to discuss the great men of God (leaders) who spoke God’s truth and led by example in ways that bridges the gap of understanding between Infinite Almighty God and finite man.
The History of the Bible has Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, Peter, John, and the Apostle Paul to name just a few.
The History of our Church we have Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, A. W. Tozer, A. B. Simpson, John & Charles Wesley, and more.
Today we have Tony Evans, Franklin Graham, Max Lucado, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, David Platt, John Piper, Rick Warren to name a few that are impacting this world for God.
We may not all agree on the names I listed or have forgot to list, but I thank God for all the obedient servants of God.
But today is a day where I instead segue to a leader for those of us up North. someone to lead us in a way that makes it clear.. THIS IS THE VOICE OF GOD.. spoken in a way that a northerner can understand (maybe with a Minnesotan accent doncha' know..
I want a prophet, a miracle worker.. I am looking for.. for.. drum roll.. MOOSES!
Wow that was a long lead in to one corny cartoon. I think this is original and that no one else would really want to take credit for such silliness.. BUT I think Mooses would at least make a fine stuffed animal at the check out counter at your local Christian bookstore.. right next to ..
So now that you have your Christian Cringes out of your system for the day, let me share a few more twisted faith walk moments.
Have a great day enjoying the opportunities of your day, and blessed by God in ways that are always BEYOND YOUR DREAMS.
The Messiah is here! We will all be saved by the 2020 Presidential Election! ??
hmmm .. not so much
I was listening to the radio a few election years back on the way to vote, and there was an interview with a young woman who took her daughter out of school to vote. This woman was so excited to vote for president saying.. “I have hope for the first time in my life. I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car or paying my mortgage because if I help ‘him’ with my vote.. ‘he’ will help me.”
I actually heard this with my own ears… I am not embellishing! I quickly drove to my place of voting hopeful to see if Jesus Christ was on the ballot. He was not.
I hope to think her point was made with a broad brush speaking to a big picture of hope, but it still made me cringe. Truth is.. UNLESS the candidate she votes for owns the gas station chain she frequents, and owns the mortgage note on her house .. her hope is NOT found in either candidate.
Oh, and who we vote for should be based on God's Truth, and not persuaded by a meddling MSM.
What this country needs most is a real REVIVAL where the hearts and minds of Americans seek God's first. Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord, not happy is the nation whose god is whoever you want him/her to be.
There is only one God .. PERIOD, and America needs to HONOR Him not apologize for Him.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets (and elections?) hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-39
In conclusion, Pray for our leaders, pray his will to be found in their actions and words.. but Pray to Jesus (our Messiah) as our hope is in the one true God.
Back Pew blessings to all and.. in November vote early, and vote OFTEN! ( a little Chicago politics corruption humor)
I am Jeff Larson, and I approve of this message.
Jeff (voting my faith) Larson
I am one of those folks who likes my food ever so slightly overcooked. I like the cheese on my pizza to be golden.. a 'dark' golden, and toast my bagel dark so to contrast with a spread of cream cheese. I want my bagel to CRUNCH when I bite into it. And I like DUSK.. where the sun has just dropped peacefully below the western horizon but before the black of night,
Of course choosing dark over light in the tasty matters of food or sunsets is fine, but in matters of the SPIRIT.. always choose the LIGHT.
This Present Darkness is a Christian novel by Frank Paretti published in 1986 showing the reader a view on angels, demons, prayer, and spiritual warfare while demons and angels interact and struggle for control in our lives and communities. And though this book was fiction, I believe this battle is real.
Of course there is obvious DARKNESS in this world, but I am surprised by many Churches maintain a Frog in the Boiling Pot perspective on life where God is fit into societal norms rather than the other way around as God intends. The temp is going up, but we the church are too often oblivious... and actually enjoying this Jacuzzi of the soul.
"In God We Trust" may be the official motto (for now) of the United States of America, but in this world's shadows we move closer to a Godless reality found in Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
How else can explain our society where
All this madness happens and honestly I am not sure the church knows how to handle it. I observe many if not most churches are afraid of secular man and public opinion rather than afraid of disobeying God.
If anyone espouses traditional Christian values we are deemed judgmental, hateful bigots or worse. But what of that? They hated Jesus first for telling loving truth, so why are we afraid to be hated for the Gospel?
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21
So these very words of Jesus make it clear.. It matters what we believe, our choices matter. JESUS WAS NOT TALKIN' TOAST. We are commanded in loving firm truths to stay in the light by Jesus. He does did mince word and the world hated Him for it.
So I prayer God finds us IN THE LIGHT, living in obedience to His word, loving and truthful in our words and deeds with others, and never lingering in this world's shadows.
Enjoy this life in the LIGHT.
Jeff (dark toast please) Larson
Another election concludes with the Apostle Paul's summation from 1 Corithians 13:1-3 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... and if I vote for the 'correct' party based on the issues of the day but do not have love.. well I CLANG!
There is very little in this life that CLANGS like a 1 Corinthians 13:1 CYMBAL more than an American election. More devisive and farther from love than a bitter Hollywood marriage/divorce/reality TV show.
And when American elections are over.. they are not really over as uncounted votes continue to be found in various and sundry nooks and cranny locations in Florida including the stomach of a large gator, and a box just discovered with the body of Jimmy Hoffa (and Jimmy voted!) in the back seat of Brenda Snipes (Broward County's Election Inspector) Hummer.
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!
So we go to church on Sunday for a repreive 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 resememble those remarks! I'm a White Evangelical Christian that is conservative.
The good news is there is only God's Truth and it goes well beyond race and/or political 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.. 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 others as ourselves. 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.
No wait, never mind that was just Donald Trump on TV.
There.. with this one statement I am able to divide my readers into two distinct groups.
1. Those who love Mr. Trump's fresh cander, and
2. Those who consider 'The Donald' an abrasive/devisive blowhard.
Here we are knee-deep in the 2016 Election year with the leading candidates being The Donald, Hillary, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and no matter who you like or dislike the least :) I have noticed with my keen eye for detail the Messiah is not on the ballot.
We are barraged with new polls telling us who is winning, who is likeable, to be trusted, tough on terror, pro-life, pro gun rights, who is most likely to be spotted hugging a tree, and maybe who is most likely to floss daily. Who will win Iowa? win the South, the Evangelical vote, black vote, Latino vote, and the very important 'finger to the wind' vote. All of this information is neatly packaged for us with the bias of your choice Fox News (righties) and everyone else (lefties) in easy to consume news bites. Or as I like to call it, JUNK FOOD for the voting public.
What seems lost to me in all of this is FAITH. While being a good Christian would not make you a good president (else I would vote for my wife), still our Christian faith and traditonal values should be the guiding compass for all of us including presidential candidates.
So I conclude this little political vent by saying the Messiah is not on the ballot, but that is what we need more than a Donald, Hilley, Bernie or Col Sanders.
Pray for our nation, and for a revival where we no longer apoligize for our Christian heritage and where Christian values are the norm not the exception and when the Messiah returns he smiles and says well done.
There is the saying going around 'God is not a republican or a democrat.' I look at front runners for the upcoming presidential election Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and I go YUP, you nailed that one on the head. Trump, I don't like. Hillary, I don't trust.
No offense intended for those of you who like either of these frontrunners but just 'blurting' my opinion.
The real issue of the day is there are too many issues. So many news headlines with more opinions regarding these headlines. THEN the politicians weigh in, and since there is an election coming up, their political views are loud and bold and often extremely partisan. In my opinion Politicians are like tax laws there are too many, they don't make sense, they are not fair, and they never go away.
Then turn on your TV to catch up on the current events by watching the evening news. Bad idea :( In reality the evening news is the evening news SHOW where ratings are king and serious topics of the day are reduced to video clips and news bites. Like a bad appetizer that leaves you bloated and not a bit hungry for the main course. These evening news appetizers are a high calorie with little nutritional value bites seasoned with a strong political bias. AND the only positive note in the evening news SHOW is after 27 minutes of gloom and doom there is a 3 minute segment inserted about a lost dog who came home. Oh gee, I feel so much better now.. NOT!
So what's a sincere believer to do? Turn to a 58 year old cartoonist for advice? I would be flattered, but probably not such a great idea.
But if you want snarky answers to complex problems I am available. :) note: I am NOT Archie Bunker reincarnated.
The good news is .. the answers we are looking for our found in our bibles. Even simplify it more, Love God and care for others... the rest is details. (my paraphrase of Matthew 22:36-40). I know, I know these details are so very important, but not so important that we lose sight of these two greatest commandments.
These scriptures are not broad-brush answers for our hurting world. Seriously, what chance does our nation have if we cannot even obey God's two greatest commandments? What real chance does the world have in addressing the Syrian Refugee crisis, terrorism, racism, hunger, sickness, and war if you don't truly love God and care for others in the moments of our days, and maybe next year with our vote.
I pray that these words encourage each of you to love God, and others like never before. Be true to God and His word in all that you do.
Jeff (politicizing in the Back Pew) Larson
MY POLITICAL PROFILE EXPOSED: (Read at your own risk)
1. Gun Control - I don't own a gun, but believe in the right to bear arms.
2. I believe Black lives Matter - but also believe blue (the police) lives matter. And let's all try something novel .. Obey the Laws, and Show Respect. Assuming guilt is poison.
3. Planned Parenthood is federally funded abortion clinic, nothing more, nothing less. I am tired about hearing about the mother's right to choose OVER the mother's responsibility to her unborn child.
4. Syrian Refugees need compassion and a home, but logistics need to be discussed in this climate of terror. I am not in favor of bringing in 10,000 refugees to the US, but this neither makes me uncaring, or paranoid.
5. I believe the government should enable the church to care of the poor, hungry, and in need. I do not believe in the government should provide this care as anything the government touches becomes a bureaucratic inefficient nightmare. Kind of a Reverse Midas Touch :(
6. I believe Gay Marriage and the gay lifestyle is wrong. This does not mean I hate because I don't hate. I have family and friends that are gay. But, I believe the words of our bibles and common sense are clear the gay lifestyle is wrong. I believe we should be able to discuss this topic rationally without being labeled a bigot.
7. I am not sorry I was born white. BUT, if I was black I would not be sorry for being black. We need less talk about how we are different and more discussion about how we are all God's children.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson