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