Back in my working days.. I would sometimes say with a smile.. "I never met a sick day I didn't like." And let's be real, no one wants to waste a sick day with strep throat, or a 102 fever. It makes more sense to be 'a little under the weather' and call in sick when the sun is shining.
Looking back I realize so many followed MY LEAD that Human Resources departments across the country coined a more user friendly term.. PTO (personal time off) days.
So I personally believe I was the catalyst in the creation of PTO. No more calling in and fake coughing.. no more intentional weak voices. Now with PTO you can simply call in to work with a strong voice and say .. "I'm not gonna come in to work, there is Netflix binge watching that needs my attention.
So for all of you that have benefited from PTO ..
YOU ARE ALL WELCOME.
Don't look at me that way.. Are you saying you never feigned a sick day? Hmm.. how about did you ever take such a day off and called it a 'mental health day'? Ok then, at least I was not claiming to be 'sick in the head' .. LIKE YOU!
But more far reaching than any random sick or PTO days you may have there is a much more concerning is the today's headline where Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) has been declared a global pandemic by the Center of Disease Control, and the World Health Organization. This sobering bit of news has put our lives on hold until further notice.
In response to COVID-19 were are closing of schools, stores, restaurants, sporting events, churches, and about everything else you can think of. The practical affects of this troubling news are the shortages of canned goods, cereal, and.. toilet paper. TOILET PAPER?
side note: I heard someone say if you are hoarding TP you most likely have a greater 'problem' (rogue IBS?) than catching COVID-19.
But very seriously.. the real health risks of Coronavirus are not to be ignored. My understanding is those especially at risk are over 65 years old, or with compromised immune systems.
BUT.. honestly I am even more concerned with the over-zealous domino overreach of governments, schools, churches, etc etc.
This will fuel far reaching economic and societal problems that may be more serious than the very real health risks. The longer this continues the greater damage is done.
So I pray.. for God's protection, and His wisdom to be displayed in ALL our leaders at all levels, and that it is not reduced to a partisan issue instead of it being an American issue.
So I pray ALSO.. for a return to God as this is a time where we can be quiet (we are like on a government timeout). This is a time to pray, read God's word, and then.. pray some more. A time to un-clutter our lives, our minds, and unplug from many of the subtle entrapments of our modern life. Maybe.. LESS is MORE.
Share and talk with friends about important issues, and about life. Pray for God to speak to you and to others without the 24/7 din of life. Spend more intentional time with family regaining perspective on what is important.
Let go of things.. minimize the madness, rethink your financial priorities, and just say no to the evening news SHOWS/PROPOGANDA.
AND of course be careful to stay safe and healthy without letting Corona run your lives.
Also, I have heard it said more than a few times..
I am concerned that our society and even the church is more focused on a possible pandemic than a pending panDAMNit. (Maybe a poor choice of puns, but you get my point.)
May God bless and protect all of you during this time. May the peace of God be realized in your lives through this pandemic and anything that comes our way.
Jeff (not even a sniffle.. yet) Larson
With this all being said I would not be a true Christian cartoonist if I did not also share what I will call...
' All Things ILL in The Back Pew'
Our Father who is in Heaven, GREAT is your name.. Your kingdom come, your WILL be done ON EARTH as it is in Heaven.
As many of you know this is the start of the Lord's Prayer (Mt 6:9-13), and is what I believe God is impressing on me today.
Your Will on Earth? So how is that working out?
Christian Tweeters are all quoting the same Bible and while there are honest differences, tweets tend to be divisive as tweeters congregate in their own denominational or theological camps/gangs?.
With all the tension I am looking for an MMA pay-per view event with Catholics v Protestants to determine once and for all.. who really is saved? It can't be the both.. can it? I mean, one of the two must be on the fast track to HELL. Or will there be a Pro(testant)-Wrestling match with a high flying Beth Moore coming off the top rope attempting to way-lay John MacCarther.
kidding, I think.
But while I DO LIKE TO DIGRESS.. let us now return to the LORD'S PRAYER. God your will be done on Earth.. starting with me.
Through my life (I am 62 now) I have prayed "Lord show me your will for my life." many times. At times regarding big decisions and that is a good always to seek the Lord and His will, but I am just recently realizing often the prayer"what is your will for my life?" is me-centric. Prayers focusing on the right job, house, finding Mrs. Right/Larson, or even a car purchase.
Looking back I wish I could have heard an audible voice from Heaven telling me if I was close. :)
God could be heard from the Heavens with the words.. "Warmer, warmer.. hmmm.. colder, colder.. now you are FREEZING. Which I literally now realize is maybe how I ended up in Minnesota. Get it? colder, colder freezing.
Truth is (insert light bulb moment for me here) The prayer "Lord what is your will for my life?" should be more specifically.. "Lord how can I serve you today, show me what I can do for your kingdom." "How can I be that part in the Lord's Prayer helping God's Will be Done.
Again, I swear I am just this week realizing the extent of this truth. I could cry over my 62 years wandering with one foot planted firmly in the wilderness and the other foot only tip toeing into the promised land much like the Children of Israel wandered for 40 years before crossing the Jordan.
But I console myself with.. I am a pretty good guy. I have lived a life faithful to God (most of the time) I attend church every week (most of the time), and I am not the type of sinner you will find someday featured in a scandal on the evening news, or the topic of a murder mystery on Dateline.
Most of my sins lie most everyone fly 'mostly' under the radar. Then again much of my serving God flies under the radar too. Not in the humble way, but in a underachieving way.
An honest tombstone for me might read..
'Here lies Jeff.. he loved God, but also loved himself a bit too much.'
Not a catchy tombstone eulogy I must admit.
Even this little Back Pew Ministry.. I am blessed to be used by God in a way that He uniquely wired me. And the feedback I receive is most always positive.. but then even in my world of cartoons I can take my eyes off of humbly being used by God in this small way to praying for God to bless The Back Pew into being.. The FarSide, or Calvin & Hobbes of Christian cartoons, complete with a modest OR.. substantial income "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"
But in recent months I have been diving deeper into my Bible, and reading challenging Christian books and points of view via sermons on Youtube or other streaming apps. And my selection of music is mostly worship music replacing my large classic rock playlist.
These recent months pursuing God deeper have not resulted in an exorcism of my old self, but it has become both a convicting and inspiring journey where today my prayer is .. "Lord what is your will for my life going forward? How can I serve you? Lord help me NOT to bury my talents in the sand, but instead do my part so YOUR will is done on Earth as it is in Heaven. AMEN."
I write this hoping it does not take any of you 62 years to figure out God's will for you is to serve Him. But if it does, 62 is not too late. Love God, Serve God where your will is God's will.
May God bless you all in this journey of discovering who you are intended to be in God's Plan and for his Kingdom on Earth.
Jeff (slow learner) Larson -->
Before I discuss the Old Testament guide to 'FINDING A WOMAN' let me give a Genesis update where in Genesis 20 where Abraham AGAIN lies. He is not even original as he tells Abimelek king of Gerar that Sarah is his sister. So Abimilek took Sarah into his house .. until God spoke to him in a dream with the words "You are a dead man walking for taking a married woman from my prophet."
But God showed mercy on Abimilek as he had not come near her yet. The next day he gave Sarah back and Abe tried to explain himself in verse 12 ..
Well, technically she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.
<insert reflective pause here>
Sounds like an episode from the Reality TV show 'The Real Housewives of the region of the Negev between Kadesh and Shur'.
Let me note again.. Sarah was some kind of sport to go along with this. Don't think this plan would fly right with my wife Mary.
Also, why do Kings and Pharaohs in the book of Genesis want 80+ year old women? Not judging, just sayin'.
Next in Genesis 21 we learn Sarah becomes pregnant in her old age. This was before gender reveal parties so Abraham and Sarah had to wait the traditional 9 months before they exclaimed "It's a boy, and we shall call him Isaac."
In celebration then passed out blue cupcakes, and drank blue kool-aid... cuz boys are BLUE and girls are PINK.
Now onward and forward we go..
Do you remember Hagar in Genesis 16, The fact that she had a son with Abraham now complicated life. Tensions and jealousy rose between Hagar and Ishmael with Sarah and Isaac, so Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away.
I obviously do not understand this whole dynamic or know how to justify this.. except I do know that Hagar and Ishmael were not how God planned to bless Abraham but through the birth of Isaac.
This story is harsh, but in these verses we learn God heard the cries of Hagar and was with the boy. 17 ..the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven "Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying ..Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
Next, in Genesis 22, God tests Abraham by instructing him to sacrifice son Isaac whom he loved dearly.
.. but God finds Abe faithful in this test from God and God stops Abe from sacrificing Isaac and instead provides a lamb to be sacrificed.
Note 1: I confess I may have threatened to kill my boys when they were acting out as teenagers.
Note 2: Isaac being saved was very good news for the literal future of Israel.
Note 3: Not a good day to be a lamb stuck in a thicket.
Note 4: The above threats to kill my sons was a figure of speech
Moving forward in reading Genesis 22:21 we are introduced to my favorite names in the Bible.
Uz and Buz (not Buzz LIghtyear) the sons of Nahor.
Not much is said about these two fine young men leaving this cartoonist with time on his hands to imagine they were chick magnets and they had a cousin named.. Fuzz.
Maybe, maybe not.
Now back to Abraham. He is now well over 100 years old, and Sarah passed away Genesis 23. So of course Abraham feels the urgency of finding his son Isaac a wife before his days are over too. How is Abraham going to be the father of a nation with more descendants than the stars in the skies if his son never goes on a date?
"So Isaac my son, you need to go outside and stop playing video games all day. Say hi to a girl, they won't bite. Go find yourself a nice Jewish girl, settle down, then go forth and MULTIPLY! Maybe, maybe not
If the story in Genesis 24 was today, Abe could help Isaac set up an ad in the personals, sign up for a E-Harmony site, or Jewish Mingles, order a MAIL ORDER BRIDE, check the church bulletin board, or.. attend an old faithful church potluck where the dishes are HOT just like the ladies. Maybe, maybe not.
Since dating life in Genesis 24 was a tad more primitive than today with zero wi-fi, Abe decides to help his son out. Oh great, that is just the news any young man wants to hear.. Dad is finding me a woman of my very own. What I am trying to say is.. While I may have never been a major-mover with the ladies I never stooped to asking my dad for dating advice. I love you dad, but this was not going to happen.
To make this process even stranger-er, Abraham insisted his chief servant 'promise' to find this woman.
How is this promise secured you may ask?
No instead Abraham says.. “Hey fella, put your hand under my leg and swear.”
<insert dramatic pause here> I beg your pardon? Come again? Is this an advanced version of the old 'pull my finger' joke?
Aah those good old (testament) days. You just never hear anyone say anymore.. "put your hand under my leg".
note: I have a very good friend Bryan Anderson, and if he asked to put my hand under his leg you could be assured I would SWEAR. "Oh bleep, that was creepy!" Then I believe I would be deemed ceremonial unclean by my church for at least 7 days. maybe, maybe not
So Abraham’s servant does swear to Abraham to follow his instructions and finds the lovely Rebecca. It was truly love at first sight? er aaa.. meet?.. er aaaa… arranged marriage.
She agrees to return with Abe's servant and leave her family to marry Isaac. And they all lived happily ever after. Well at least through Genesis 24.
After the deal is done.. Abraham gets busy himself. He marries again and his new bride has more 6 kids. Finally at a very youthful age of 175 Abe breathes his last though they say he never did look a day past 155.
The lesson I see again in these Genesis stories is how God is faithful even when man even when we makes decisions that leave me more than scratching my head (ie Abraham). This is good news for me, and you too. I make more than my fair share of mistakes, and while my faith is not on par with Abraham.. I am blessed knowing God honors my desire to obey Him.
Life will never be about being the perfect Christian. Perfect Christians are like the Loch Ness monster.. folk lore at best.
I pray God finds us faithful, and I pray for His blessings and providence in our lives as we daily love and obey Him with all our heart.
Jeff (My wife is NOT my sister) Larson
I shared recently the mysterious voice saying "If you build it, they will come." happened way before the movie 'Field of Dreams' when God spoke to Noah instructing him to build it (an Ark) and they (the Animals) would come two by two.
Next big event IMO in the book of Genesis was when the phrase 'Home of the Whopper' was coined way before a single Burger King fast food joint existed. Let me explain.. but first..
ON THE ROAD AGAIN!
In Genesis 12 Abram enters the Old Testament story. Abram is maybe 85 years young, his bride Sarai is maybe 70. The Lord tells Abram .. “Road Trip.!!.. pack up the Winnebago”. So Abraham loads a destination of Canaan into his GPS and says goodbye to Sweet Home Haran with Lynard Skynard playing in the background.
HOME OF THE WHOPPER!
The next thing you know Abram was in Egypt with his wife Sarai while there was a famine in the land. While in Egypt, Pharaoh spies Abram's wife Sarai who rumor has it was a 'fetching' 70 year old hottie. So Abe tells a little fib that Sarai is his sister as he is afraid they will kill him to take Sarai as their wife. Ok, that is not a white lie this is a WHOPPER of a lie.
So Pharaoh takes Sarai into his palace, and treats Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels out of the exchange.
side note: I am not sure my wife in Sarai's place would have been such a good sport.
But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
side note 2: While Abraham would become known as a great man of faith, Honest Abe was our 16th president and never confused with this Abram guy pawning his wife off in Egypt.
After Egypt, Abe travels to southern Canaan as a very wealthy man with cattle, silver, and gold. But tension arose between Abram and his nephew Lot because there were simply too many animals for the land to support. So Abe says to Lot, “Let’s not bicker over land. If you choose the land to the left, I will go to the right, and if you choose the land to the right, I will go to the left.” And Lot chooses the land in the direction of Sodom which could have been named LOT VEGAS!
In chapter 14, there were battles, but I gather that military tactics were a bit primitive. One particular lesson learned is still taught in the Soldier’s Field Manual at WestPoint stating a soldier should always avoid the short cut across the TARPITS.
During all this time, the Lord often reminds Abraham that he will be blessed by God so that to try to number his descendants will like trying to count the grains of sand on the shore, or the stars in the skies. There was of course the minor problem that AARP collectors Abram and Sarai had no kids.
So now the plot thickens as Sarai (the good wife) says to Abram, “Why don’t you sleep with my slave girl Hagar?” I have a couple of Back Pew comments with this part of the story.
1. When I think of Hagar, I think of that Viking cartoon character Hagar the Horrible.
2. My wife has never offered me a slave girl to sleep with! Of course if she did I would say very politely, “Why Mary, thank you very much for this most generous offer, BUT (with the vision of Hagar the Horrible in my head) I’m good.” I may not be a great man of faith like Abram, but my momma didn’t raise NO DUMMY!!
But Abram ignores the tell tale warning signs that this idea is DUMBER-ER than a bag of hammers, and wanders out onto THIN ICE IN THE HOT DESERT and says more than howdy-do to the lovely miss Hagar.
Hagar now becomes pregnant by Abram and Sarai lets Abram have it by probably saying something like, “I told you to sleep with her, but not SLEEP with her!” To which Abram so eloquently in his defense says, “Huh? What? But you said!!! I thought I could.... Huh?”
As you can read in chapter 16, this arrangement is nothing you ever see discussed on Focus on the Family, Oprah, or even The Jerry Springer show. These chapters are NOT in the Bible as an example how to model the perfect marraige, but to instead show us God is faithful and caring for Abram and Sarai even when they do really dumb things. Fortunately for all of us, our foolish choices are covered by God’s grace and goodness.
In chapter 17, God says to Abram to change his name from Abram, to Abraham. I wonder if this was so that he could start fresh and people would not know he was the guy who lied that Sarai was his sister, and slept with his wife’s slave girl. Sarai also has her named changed to Sarah. Then near the end of the chapter 99 year old Abraham is circumcised. This profound scripture emphatically reminds me not to complain about my own aches and pains. And all men collectively shout AMEN!!.. and .. YOWTCHEE!!
I thank God for His love and grace not dependent on my perfection. I pray God finds us all faithful in words and deeds and willing to hear God's voice when He calls us.
Jeff (my wife is not my sister) Larson
Genesis 1 - In the beginning, God spoke the universe into existence. Some of those present claimed they heard a loud crackling sound like thunder, but most simply described it as sort of a.. BANG.. actually a BIG BANG!
At this point let me be clear, I am not here to discuss Old Earth v New Earth theories. This would be above the pay grade of this cartoonist, but what I will say is .. God created and it was GOOD!
Genesis 1:1-31 To summarize, this daunting project was completed in 6 days where Day 1: DAY , NIGHT , the SKY were spoke into existence by our Almighty Creator.
Genesis 2:1-3 Then on the 7th day God rested. In contrast I installed a bathroom floor in our town-home recently and I rested on the 5th, 6th, and 7th days and while it turned out nice it was not Hubble Telescope spectacular like God's Universe.
Those first 6 days His creation included the sun, stars, land, waters, and all the creatures in the sea and on land were created.
To rule over the lands and seas God created MAN Genesis 2:7 in His own image from the dust of the Earth followed by creating WOMAN from man's 'spare rib' declaring it is not good for man to be alone. Genesis 2:18
To which Adam declared.. "Hey beautiful, where have you been all my life?"
Then God commanded Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply".. to which Adam quickly started working on his times tables.
This creation story is all recorded into the Bible book of Genesis. While many Cosmologists believe the Big Bang was the creation of EVERYTHING from NOTHING followed by billions of years of random collisions and explosions resulted in our ever expanding universe, all the planets including Earth including life with all it's complexities.
Ok, I believe you can collide a chocolate bar with a jar of peanut butter and end up with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.. but this Universe has too moving parts + complexities that are bound together with rules and order for me to believe EVERYTHING came from NOTHING.
So I choose to believe there must be an intelligent design behind creation. For me, I believe in a divine creator that exists outside the confines of time and space. I believe this Intelligent Design is described in the Bible Book of Genesis.
May God bless each of you greatly in your pursuit of truth. This is important stuff, and a foundation for life. If there is a God then the pursuit of Him is a greater science than can be found looking through any microscope or telescope. Bigger than Star Trek's five year journey exploring the stars.
Jeff (little bang) Larson
A while back our pastor gave a sermon on getting to know God by reading our Bibles regularly and systematically. During this very good sermon our pastor joked that the most read books of the Bible are Genesis and Matthew, because our inspired intentions in January to read through our Bibles fades once we are through Genesis, and Matthew. (Leviticus has killed many a Bible study ).. then the next year we are back in Genesis and Matthew. I call this bible study plan.. The BEGINAGAINS.
I must be honest and say I have followed the BEGINAGAIN plan many times and not until 2003 did I completely read my Bible from cover to cover AND I CARTOONED THRU IT TOO! Note: Neither Billy Graham or the Pope could say they cartooned through the Bible. Then in 2018 lightning struck again as I read through my Bible from Genesis through Revelations. YEAH ME!
Now here I am starting out 2020 in the BEGINAGAINS using a chronological Bible with the intentions of getting past those tedious Dos and Don'ts highlighted in Leviticus.
Now for many reading through the Bible from beginning to end is not appealing and I understand that. My wife is one of those good folks. In fact I was told in a men's group about studying it is wrong to simply read the Bible through in a year. I DISAGREE.. for me reading through my Bible in order gives me a context and flow of stories and cultures that I may otherwise miss. This is NOT the only right way to read my Bible but it is a way that works for me.
No matter if you use tried and true(?) BEGINAGAINS Bible study, or topical study, or other method the important message is to be in God's word. DAILY!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Oh we will have questions, and we will not understand it at times. Creation, Noah and his Ark floating on a universal flood, parting of the Red Sea, Elijah riding a chariot of Fire, the Virgin Birth of Jesus, the feeding of 5,000 on fish and chips leftovers, the raising of the dead, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the end time prophecies. All these subjects and many more challenge our reasoning while we scratch our collective heads, and even question what we believe. BUT I have found honest questions are different than doubts, and reading my Bible gives me answers to where I build my faith and love in God.
WHERE SHOULD I PLACE MY FAITH?
Of course in the end we are each challenged regarding where we will place our faith. Will it be science alone, a progressive secular world view, Christianity, or another of the worlds religions. I choose to place my faith in the God of my Bible and this is where I place my hope.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
May God bless each of you in your spiritual journey, and I pray that we all make a priority of reading God's word and be wise in where we place our faith and our hope.
New Year's Blessings
Jeff (BEGINAGAIN) Larson
note: Please understand I respect those who disagree with me (even on the existence of God). My intentions are simply sharing where I place my faith.
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
Of course, no one wants to be labeled the uncaring bigoted judgmental Christian stereotype. So while we need to be sensitive regarding all issues of the day including today's hot-button topics (racism, abortion, homosexuality, and gender identity, etc etc ) we need to blend this with God's firm loving Truths . Remember always speak God's truth with love, but 'flip it' to realize love is found only in God's Truth.
And.. the next time someone tells you "I like Jesus but not Christians because Jesus was about love.. but Christians are are judgmental, hateful, bigoted, sexist, patriarchal homophobes.. . Read them Luke 12:49-53
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.
Note: I am not casting stones here as I am convicted and reflective on my own past & present spiritual compromises, and prayerful God will guide me with his truth and find me obedient.
May God bless each of you with discernment regarding God's Truths while being salt and light in dark empty society. Be strong for the Lord as we answer to God.. not man.
Jeff (Drawing lots of lines) Larson
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 has the slogan no perfect people allowed. They may not be perfect but they are pretty good. They are welcoming to all, and have a great little coffee shop in the fellowship area, and... I like coffee! The church service has great worship, and the pastor always shares a relevant, scripture based, grace filled message.
Also on every other Sunday evening my wife and I attend a small group bible study with about 8 others from the 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.
So my Sunday 'No Perfect People Allowed' 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.
May 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 (Battery Challenged) Larson
I guess by strict definitions I am a protestant, but technically more of a protestant MUTT.
Actually I would like to be simply defined as a CHRISTIAN thank you very much. I am not being a rebel, but I don't fit nicely into any denominational box. I respect the views of others, but have to come to my own conclusions on all the nooks and cranny faith issues.
And let me be clear I am not judging your choice of 'box' unless.. you have a SNAKE in it.
So with this in mind I place all I have learned from God and his church and it all fits nicely in 'My Faith Box'.
The next challenge is fitting My Faith Box into the ever changing Post Modern Society box aka the PM Society box. This is a big box with lights and sounds. Inside their is a society of blended cultures with ever changing faster than a speeding bullet technology, and much much more. All the bells & whistles of the PM Society box are distracting and often attractive BUT I need to be careful when fitting My Faith Box in the PM Society Box. This can be messy.
I believe a classic Billy Graham message shared.. We are called to be in the world, but not of it.
And certainly not a frog simmering in a pot of secular values.
So In this PM Society box I find things like.. The internet. Which is both an incredible resource for 1. LIGHT (faith, family, friends, news, etc) and 2. DARKNESS (anger, hatred, self-indulgence, porn, etc ).
The internet also offers the ever evolving social media kit at no extra charge where I can text, tweet, post on facebook, instagram, or you can blog.. Blog? sounds like a cheap horror movie from the 1950s.. 'The Attack of the 50 Page Blog'. Maybe that should be the name of my blog?
In our PM Society box I can also stream music, videos or even sermons (if I am feeling particularly spiritual ) of any big name preacher or subscribe to Cyber Clyde's Bed Hair Pod Cast.
This can all be done from the convenience of my office chair while donning the same gym shorts, tank top, and bed hair just like Cyber Clyde.
When PM Society is not on the computer it is on your smartphone, or surfing HD TV with a bazillion (I actually counted there are a bazillion) sports, news, and movie channels.
In PM Society Box people buy meals, high buck coffees and lattes through a drive through window... or have them even delivered to their door. They will soon even have their groceries delivered by little retail drones. I can't wait til they do appliance deliveries via drones. When that happens I am canceling Cable TV and just following the Home Delivery Channel.
My Faith Box is now feeling a little agitated and stimulated at the same time. So far I am having trouble keeping all this PM Society box stuff out of My Faith Box. I see a TV remote is in my Faith Box, and an Amazon Prime Card. In fact I think grease from a leaky fast food bag from the PM Society box is soaking into the corner of My Faith Box and sadly I like the smell. I kind of like some of this PM Society stuff, and it is easy to justify there place in my Faith Box. I THINK I NEED HELP.
OK, I may not be so desperate that I need a Faith Box Exorcism, or an Exterminator, but I could do some spring cleaning... here in November.
My serious prayer is to have an honest Faith Box, with the word of God in it that never changes and a prayer list that is ever changing. I want to be in this world but not of it. This world (aka PM Society Box) is a mess! It is filled with noise, smells, and sights that are often far from God. It is a box that NEEDS GOD, not religion of man, but needs GOD THE CREATOR and GOD THE SAVIOR. PM Society box is in need of a revival.
Regarding Revival: I listened to a sermon a while ago by Louie Gigglio and he said "Where there is pain, where there is a mess this is where a revival can happen". No one has a personal revival when life is going perfect. So by this definition this world is ready for a revival.
OK, probably I took the box analogy a bit too far about a half a blog ago, but if you are still with me I pray God inspires in us a love for Him and His ways that make us truly salt and light in a PM Society box that is in contrast bland and existing in the dark like a mole eating rice cakes.
Jeff (All Boxed in) Larson
Life again reminds me we are all so very busy with days filled and choices to be made. Sometimes I feel like a contestant on the Price is Right TV show and I randomly choose door number #3 today.. and hope for the best.
So to help guide our life decisions I would like to suggest the Closed Fist and Open Hand approach.
But.. a serious dilemma occurs when we mix our Open Hand and Closed Fist views. Just think if an alcoholic who continues to drink, a marriage without fidelity, or if I decide not to pay my bills on time.. or pay them at all. All are a recipe for disaster.
Of course, Open Hand and Closed Fist views are rubbed in our faces when we turn on the evening news where Washington is filled with Closed Fists ready to punch political opponents in the nose.. or lower. I guess this is what Washington calls 'reaching across the aisle'.
Now finally, how's the old Open Hand v Closed Fist working with God's people? From my vantage point, not so good. Just a glance on my Twitter account I could imagine..
Seriously, the church can be a prickly place. Not just your basic Predestined v Free Will, eternal security, or are Infant Baptisms ok debates? There are more serious divisions where when we do not agree on the interpretation of a passage of scriptures then someone must be a HERETIC... when maybe we really don't know and simply disagree. But then to be fair again.. some teachings are heresy.
God save us! No really, GOD SAVE US!
Now take it with a grain of salt that you are reading a blog from 'a grownup' who draws cartoons, but the following is my exhaustive (or exhausting) guide to Closed Fist and Open Hands in the Church.
The reason for writing today's blog was fueled by ongoing battles among well known evangelicals, and then watching the 'Christian' media and 'Christian' social media fanning the flames that divide us.
Of course I do believe in addressing sin and true heresy in the church. BUT.. I pray for a biblical approach.
Sigh.. Maybe from time to time I will just open my clenched fist and slap myself.
I am not positive today's blog is helpful, but the spirit of it is on my heart. May God use my fumbling words to speak truth or the desire for us all to seek truth.
May God bless you in your busy lives. Be true to God, stand for Him, know your Bibles, have good friends, and eat all your veggies. :)
Jeff ( in between a slap, tickle, & a fist fight) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson