As a kid, Star Trek was a favorite of mine. Not Captain Picard, the ‘real’ Star Trek with Captain Kirk Spock, Bones, and Scotty. Who every week would pursue ‘Space.. the final frontier.. to boldly go where no man has gone before!’
Now fast forward about 50+ years and I can be found watching the National Geographic channel where frequently they do segments on our universe (SPACE) and beyond.
Very cool stuff, and if you have not noticed.. it is a very big universe.
I am amazed when watching these shows the passionate pursuit to understand this truly infinite universe. Are there little green men on mars? Was everything we know created from the BIG BANG? What is a black hole, a super nova, dark matter… and much much more. Think of all the man hours and the MONEY spent in the pursuit of .. Captain Kirk’s Final Frontier.
National Geographic channel also has many shows where archeologists and theologians seek truth in the great stories of our faith. What is a very interesting bit of IRONY of biblical proportions is that astronomers, theologians, and archeologists all should find at the end of their pursuits is a creator who in my opinion is the God of our Bibles.
So while Captain Kirk spoke that space is the final frontier, .. to explore the creator of the Universe instead of the Universe using scientific and Biblical evidence is the FIRST but most overlooked frontier.
Is there a God? Then is this God the God of our Bibles?
AND.. if a decision is made that there is a God, what is to be our relationship with Him? Is it personal, or is God a lofty distant deity?
Is there a spiritual realm beyond the physical elements in front of us? Is there a Heaven and Hell? AND..
Is there need for a SAVIOR for this world? John 3:16
Personally, I believe in.. one God and He is the God of our Bibles. I believe He is personal and His love and grace for each of us is beyond my comprehension. I believe He is omniscient, omnipresent, and the creator of this vast universe that astronomers and Captain Kirk boldly pursue.
I believe there is a way to God and it is through Jesus Christ the son of God (John 14:6), and that finding Jesus and accepting Him as our savior is the most personal eternity changing discovery anyone can make.
Jesus loves me this I know.. and Amazing Grace how sweet the sound. The first is a classic children’s song/truth and the second is one of the great hymns/truths of our Christian faith. To know these songs and to live them is life, and everything else is .. trivial pursuit.
I know needing a Savior sounds like church speak, but it is simply the truth that we all need a savior. We may pretty good folk, but to ignore the pursuit of our creator and realizing we need a savior should not be put off (Romans 3:23).
My prayer is for those who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior. It is as simple as speaking to God and to acknowledge your desire to understand and know Him. It is to realize we need him as our glaring humanity is weak even when we are pretty good folk.
Blessings.. and may the force (aka God in Star Wars speak) be with you on this final and most urgent frontier!
Jeff ( Frontiersman? ) Larson
I am reading through my Bible again this year and learning so much. One of the interesting facts I have been reminded of is the number of different kings of Israel or Judea that there were.
Some bad, some just plain evil (see Ahab in toon on the right), others good.. but even good kings were often reported to being good EXCEPT for leaving up a few Temple Idols here or there.
Now when Josiah became king he was 8 years old! That's a year younger than my grandson Everett, and while he is a great kid.. he is not ready to be king. Anyways, Josiah was a good king and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord 2 Kings 22:2.
One of the great undertakings of Josiah was to clean out the Temple of the Lord of all the idols to Baal, etc. please read below..
2 Kings 23: 4-8 4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven . He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5 And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens. 6 And he brought out the Asherah (pagan goddess idols) from the house of the Lord, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people. 7 And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah. 8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one's left at the gate of the city.
Wow!.. Now if I was king of Israel I would like to think I would NOT tolerate temple idols. Get your cow statues, pagan idols, and yes no more prostitutes in the temple. That should be a given.. and don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. GET OUT!
But in our modern world of so many idols.. who am I kidding?.. and where should I start? We may not keep our idols in the temple (aka church).. then again maybe there too. Some churches seem much more a moment to a denomination (sparing no expense) or to a minister (man or woman) who has clearly taken center stage and prospered while God is somewhere in the back.. maybe.
But how about idols in my own life. In my home, and/or in my heart. This society offers so much to worship that is not in any stretch of the imagination.. God related.
Where is my worship? Where is my focus? Am I in a constant attitude of prayer 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 or in a constant attitude of self indulgence absorbed reading box scores from last night's sports?
I do love my sports and can spend hours following my favorite teams (Packers, Brewers, Bucks, Badgers, etc).. and I do like movies. Neither sports or movies are bad, BUT.. I can spend too much time and emotion watching sports, and/or maybe watching a movie out of curiosity that ends up having zero redeeming value.
So.. what is your idol? Career, fitness, status, and/or leisure? Maybe it is even a vice like DRINK (that was one of mine for about 15 years).
No matter, it is time to clean out those pesky temple idols in our lives. Time always to reexamine our hearts for compromise who or what we choose to worship. You may say "just checked, and no temple prostitutes in my life." but maybe lust and/or the dark power of porn has a hold on you. In all these things and more let's give them up. Throw these idols out of our lives.
If you think the Bible is dry and difficult to read, church is honestly boring, and you find no real interest in spiritual things, I would challenge you to go deeper. If you are in awe of this amazing world from the wonder of nature, to the infinite cosmos.. know there is a creator.
So my question is 'What is more fascinating and breathtaking.. to study more about the CREATION (our world, the cosmos), or the CREATOR of of our world and the cosmos.
May God bless each of you in your lives. May He be real to you and the focus of your worship.
Jeff (cleaning out my idol junk closet) Larson
Breaking Bad was the hit TV show on AMC a few years back where unassuming high school chemistry teacher and family man Walter White evolves over 5 seasons into someone truly bad.
Maybe.. Not since God tossed Satan out of Heaven has there been a comparable BREAKING BAD moment.
Walter White's life was a slippery slope of compromise, and his white (no pun intended) lies evolved into massive cover-ups. Walter White changes over these few years into a ruthless big time meth producer responsible for countless murders, and in the end, he dies alone, his family is destroyed, and the wake of his truly bad choices on those around him was far reaching for both innocent and guilty. Even those who survived DID NOT live happily ever after but were truly Badly Broken.
note: For those of you contemplating binge watching Breaking Bad on Netflix please disregard the previous paragraph. MY BAD
Ok, so far there are three obvious lessons learned
1. Don't cook Meth,
2. Don't Murder, and
3. Don't trust criminals to keep secrets.
But Breaking Bad is actually the story of mankind and from the very beginning it seems to be BAD is what we do. Since the very beginning our sins great and small, and our attempts to cover them up is the common plot line for lives we live.
EVEN OUR BIBLES are filled with Breaking Bad moments of literally biblical proportions.
Then let's fast forward to a few more contemporary Breaking Bad paths we travel today..
Comfort and Hope for your BB Moments..
But no matter your flavor of Breaking Bad there are so many great scripture truths of comfort and perspective. Here are two.
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.
AND if/when we fall.. know the grace of our Heavenly Father is perfect. No matter how great or small your prodigal son or daughter moment.
Let's agree to fix our minds on the Will of God, not our own. Let' agree to seek His voice, and not the voices in this world. I pray God blesses His people with repentant and obedient hearts. Lord your will, not my will be done.
May God bless each of you on your journey.
Jeff (not so bad) Larson
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 -->
Note of Clarification
The following blog commentary is about the little word 'BUT' ..but.. it is not to be confused with the word 'BUTT' (aka bottom.. aka buttocks, ) which always makes Minions laugh.
I recently read a quote by Tim Keller on Twitter.. 'Repentance is crucial for renewal and restoration', and full disclosure honesty is required for true repentance.
Very true, BUT it is often easier to say "I am sorry, BUT.." then insert my favorite excuse/rationalization of what I am supposedly sorry for. Here are a few I am sorry BUTs.
Next let me share a couple gender specific 'sorry but' prayers.
(see cartoon on the right)
Hmmm, maybe we should raise the bar and strive to do better than either of the above man, or woman's prayers.
Back to Tim Keller's words of wisdom. 'Repentance is crucial for renewal and restoration', and full disclosure honesty is required for true repentance. Not much wiggle room for any sorry buts.
BUT.. Hey I am a pretty good guy. I go to church, love my wife and stay out of trouble.
But who am I fooling? Not God. He knows my secret doubts, rage, anxiety, envy, mumbled profanities, and other more quiet rebellions against what I know is right in my heart. I have too often compromised time, resources, and talents that were truly a gift from God. This does not include bigger sins (ie alcohol) that almost killed me. For all these and more I am sorry.. no buts.
Mark me down as a work in progress.
What would be possible if we all were truly repentant and inspired by the love of God? It could be a revival this fallen world needs.. like.. NOW!
May God bless each of you on your spiritual journey, where you are blessed and used by God in ways that are beyond your dreams. My our hearts be repentant, and open to receive the promise of God's Grace.
Jeff (no buts about it) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson