Not so long ago there was a GEICO commercial featuring a Sumo figure skater with the tag line "Sumo Wrestler figure skating? Surprising! What's not surprising is what you can save on car insurance by switching to GEICO."
This is the kind of kind of absurd humor my Back Pew mind can appreciate and has inspired a few GEICO-esque cartoons
"Heavy Metal Yodeling?" Surprising. What's not surprising? How much money you could save by switching to GEICO."
I am still waiting for GEICO to call me back on this 'creative' concept, but so far..
'I hear crickets'.
So then I take a look at my collection of cartoons and found very quickly three more Heavy Metal cartoons. They are...
I believe with these cartoons I have demonstrated a GEICO like absurdity that I embrace. AND.. I believe there is very little if any spiritual message from these toons, but..
I will give it a try.
Heavy Metal Yodeling, Polka, Sunday School with Ozzy Ozbornagain .. surprising!
what's not surprising is God's Amazing Grace covers all our sins.
It's not surprising because we are loved with the perfect love of our Heavenly Father.
Ok, it's maybe not GIECO material, but the John 3:16 promise of Salvation beats the best of insurance plans.
So I pray today that each of you experience God's Amazing Grace, the promise of His presence in your lives today, and the promise of Heaven in your future.
Jeff (surprised often) Larson
Everyone loves Top 10 lists. So today I will share my Top 10 Ways to Die in the Bible. note: By top 10 ways to die I am talking about moments that make a fellow shout "OWEE, OWEE!"
To qualify for this list the death must meet the following 3 Criteria..
So here we go,
Honorable mentions go to Eglon, the enemies of Samson, and the victims of the infamous Jars & Trumpet militia.
Your list may be different than mine, and in fact please write me your favorite ways to die from the Bible. It could make my next list.
Let me close today's ramble with the topic of 'Near Death' Experiences
In sharp contrast to top 10 ways to die we have Near Death experiences. No not the 'out of body' stories we read about, but instead our 'sinners saved by Grace' kind of experience.
When we realize our best is a filthy rags Isaiah 64:6 before God, but with a repentant heart we can receive this Amazing Grace of God we move from 'near death' an eternity in Hell to eternal life with our creator in Heaven.
There are great stories of loved ones who gave their lives to Jesus on their literal death beds. These loved ones are very much like the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember Him, and Jesus replied "Today you will be with me in Paradise". Luke 23:43 Both moved from near death to eternal life with a repentant heart receiving God's Amazing Grace.
Now, that's the kind of 'near death' experience I'm talkin' bout'.
I pray God's blessings on your lives today. I pray you all have the promise of Heaven in your future. All roads do not lead to Heaven, and being a pretty good guy or gal, and/or just believing in a higher power is not good enough.
Choose Jesus today if you have not already. We are all going to die (deep Back Pew insight, lol), know it matters eternally what we believe and where we place our faith. I place my faith in Jesus Christ, and I pray each of you do also.
If you have not, know.. If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9
Jeff (Not dead yet) Larson
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
DEATH.. by Cartoon.. While there were preexisting conditions, it was THE CARTOON that killed him. - CDC (Center of Deceased Cartoonists) Dr. Foopie
Dateline: 11th Century BC
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Later testing determined VIC did not die from bump on head and not from his head being severed, but instead it was .. COVID-19. Kidding, kidding, I could not help myself.
Truth is .. the VIC was Goliath who met his demise in the form of the shepherd boy David armed with a sling, a few choice stones all endorsed by the very POWER OF GOD.
BUT.. I digress... as this event should be classified as.. DEATH BY CARTOON.
Let me share a few more memorable DEATH BY CARTOON Bible moments.
Note: From the beginning through this very day, only Enoch, and Elijah have been given a 'hall pass' from God to cheat death. In the case of Elijah, he lived even though he was not wearing his seat belt.
Everyone else gasped their last breath and succumbed their inevitable demise.
- Sisera died from a tent stake splitting headache.
- Eglon was run through.
- Noah's neighbors could not tread water for 40 days and nights.
- Jericho Guards fell down go boom.
- Abimelech's world was rocked
then on to the New Testament where
- Lazarus DEAD!.. then not dead
- Jesus died then of course rose from the grave. while the ..
- The Thief died on the cross next to Jesus, but then HEAVEN! Truly Amazing Grace
finally we read about..
- Death riding on a horse and in need of a tic-tac.
DEATH .. more than a macabre theme for Halloween, or the chilly exit from out time on this Earth. For believers death is the beginning to LIFE eternal.
Oh death where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting? I Corinthians 15:55
Since I probably will not leave this Earth riding a chariot of fire, and I know this life is just a drop in the ocean of eternity. I will grieve when loved one's die, but I pray always for perspective that includes eternal life for those who love God. Then death truly has no victory, death has no sting.
May God bless each of you with the peace of eternal life with God. May we gain a glimpse of the big picture with a perspective outside our circumstances and pain we may endure. May the promise of a peace that passes all understanding become real to each those who choose to follow our God.
Jeff (still kickin' in the Back Pew) Larson
In remembering September 2019 we officially bumped our rain total to the second-wettest year on record in Minneapolis Mn, with 29.64” of rain, behind 1892 with 31.75”. Ok, not ARK building weather, but still the 2nd wettest year on record.
Of course back in Noah's day they didn't think they needed an Ark either. There wasn't even a Marina in town, but God grew tired of the true wickedness of man and decided to wipe out all mankind by a flood except for Noah and his family who would sail safely on an Ark.
Genesis 6:5-6 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieve.
So we all know the story, the people mocked him Noah's Ark project, until that day that rang out in infamy where the floods covered the Earth killing all living creatures except Noah, his family, and a literal boat load of animals.
This is one of those stories learned in Sunday School where God saved Noah and all the animals of every kind. Cute story for kids, but a powerful story for the rest of us.
While some Christians feud over the flood being local versus universal, or where the Ark is now.. the greater message is to a wicked world that was not SAVED on-board this giant Ark sized petting zoo. Death versus Life was the choice of mankind back in Noah's day, and death versus life is our choice today.
No we don't have to RSVP any Ark invitations from God, but.. same as in Noah's day either we are with (obedient to) God or against Him. Today, either I have accepted Jesus into your heart or have not. The choice is mine, the choice is yours. And just like in Noah's day,
IT MATTERS ETERNALLY what we believe. God will not be mocked. If we do not choose God's salvation plan we will be as lost as Noah's neighbors when the great flood consumed them.
Not such a cute story now. It's a nice story if you are on the boat, but if not.. then a snorkel and flippers will not save you. But it is a beautiful story, because just like the Ark in Noah's day, God has provided salvation. This salvation is found in the name of Jesus. God does not desire for any of us to perish, but we all have free will so the choice is ours.
CHOOSE WISELY, and your eternity is secured in Heaven.
CHOOSE POORLY and please understand you are not safe.
Note: Flood Insurance would not have saved you in Noah's Day, nor will Fire Insurance save you today.
May God bless each of you with the realization of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is a beautiful gift from our loving God. For those of you outside of His plan, know John 3:16, believe John 3:16, and then.. WELCOME ABOARD.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Jeff (Soggy bottom boy in Minnesota) Larson
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
No, this email is not about Al Gore, Global Warming, or Big Al’s Oscar Award Winning Documentary.
But on an awkwardly ironically amusing side note there was a North Pole expedition in 2007 meant to bring attention to Global Warming but was called off after one of the explorers got frostbite. The explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen called off what was intended to be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment. -- read FROSTBITE.. but I digress.
But for me the real inconvenient truth America does not like to hear is.. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD! Our Oprah Winfrey-esk society passionately believes in respecting all gods (note the small g) at the expense of compromising honor and worship due to the one TRUE God of our Bibles.
Believing in another god or no God is just as WRONG WRONG WRONG as sincerely attempting to summit the world's tallest Mt. Everest but actually being on the side of Long's Peak in Colorado which is less than 1/2 as tall as Everest. YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE.
Some say "THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH CHRISTIANS!! They are all so JUDGEMENTAL!" Well same logic would then damn first grade teachers for teaching 1+1=2 when you want 1+1 to = 37.
The above Mt. climbing, and simple math analogy, OR.. the fact I can no longer fit into the same pants I did 20 years ago all face the same inconvenience.. TRUTH.
note: In my defense I believe they make pants with a 34 inch waist SMALLER now. <pause> ok, ok.. that is me in denial of another inconvenient truth!
You don't have to be a GENIUS to realize Nature screams that there is a God who was the creator of this world.
CREATION was not happenstance, and our universe is NOT the random existence of matter and space…. Our creator is not Buddha, Zeus, or the Kemp’s Cow for you Hindus. It is not the Sister Sun, Mother Moon, or any New Age / Oprah Winfrey wild haired scheme found on a Hollywood Astrology HOTline.
The creator of this world and of all things is the God of our Bibles, and may the glory and honor be His and His alone.
To believe anything else is a sad lie, and from the father of lies.
Truth is Truth.. even when it is INCONVENIENT.
As believers let's celebrate and share this BEAUTIFUL TRUTH of our loving Heavenly Father to a secular world hell bent (literally) on being inclusive to every nook and cranny faith. There are so many lost in their own secular humanistic LOGIC while attempting to fit the concept of a God in a nice little box.
For those who do not believe, I pray you take time to ponder these Biblical Truths ..
May God bless all our lives with TRUTH.. purpose, and love for God and others. May this be the source of happiness and contentment and purpose that gives your life meaning like never before.
LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS.. leave the rest as details... and by no means an INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Jeff (inconveniently truthful in the Back Pew) Larson
Today, I am sharing a memory from a couple summers before all things COVID-19 when LIFE began FLASHING before my eyes.
Life Flashing before my eyes..
In 7 short days I have experienced highs and lows, laughter and tears, life and death. I know most of all of us have weeks like this, but last week was my turn.
On Tuesday August 9th my Aunt Marie passed away unexpectedly at the age of 87. She was very special to me, Marie (known as Babe) was loved and will be missed of course by family and friends. We all grieve and are sad for our loss, but celebrate her arrival to Heaven where she is reunited with family, friends, and most importantly JESUS.
This is the paradox of the Christian experience where our existence moves from life on Earth, to death, then to Eternity in Heaven for those who love the Lord.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelations 21:4
Then Friday morning August 10th my long awaited (9+ months) expected third granddaughter Reagan Holland Larson arrived. SHE'S A KEEPER!
This of course is the best kind of news, and holding her the following morning was a perfect healing touch for my grieving heart.
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL.. Over these same 7 days my wife's family were in town for a reunion. There are six siblings in the Laun family.. ages 83, 82, 79, 77, 60, while my wife is the itsy bitsy BABY at age 57.
All six siblings were here with their spouses along with a smattering of kids and grandkids. Activities included sight seeing, a picnic, paddle boat ride on the Mississippi, and a (heart attack free )baseball game of sorts with players ranging from age 6 through 77.
This was a great time of celebrating family and heritage. All are doing well and actually still like each other. - Who knew families still like each other these days. -
Health of all siblings is good, but if some nefarious sort targeting senior citizens robbed us the highlight of their booty would selling our hearing aides on the black market. The only negative me spending that many days with Mary's family is that I ate waaay too much. I know, I don't have to eat so much, but.. mind your own business.
So there you have it, what a week. Life Flashing before my eyes? .. or as Mufasa from the Lion King explains.. This is the Circle of Life.
This Life is messy, including roller coaster moments wanting you to exit the ride, or 'hurl'. From birth through the family reunions to that day until this ride stops .. this life is a gift from God.
If you don't know Jesus, if you don't have a relationship with God.. now is the time to say YES to Him. Say YES acknowledging Him as savior of your life, and giving Him the proper place in your life. This life is flashing and will be gone before you know it.. then eternity.
I pray we all choose wisely, it matters eternally.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
May God bless each of your lives with joy in your journey. Remember always to love God, enjoy the big and little things of this life, love &care for others with the promise of someday Heaven for those who love Him. Because this life is FLASHING and then in the blink of an eye .. eternity.
update: Now 2 years later and life is still messy but good. My now 2 year old beautiful granddaughter Reagan has a smile that melts me. All my sibling-inlaws are doing well, and God is so good even in this most ugly of years 2020.
In the month of August in the year 2020 I celebrate my 63rd birthday, my 36th wedding anniversary.. AND it is my 57th anniversary for accepting Jesus into my heart ironically while sitting in the Back Pew of a little country church during Summer Bible School in my home town of Cable Wisconsin. John 3:16
Q. Should a fella receive a Gold Watch on my 50 YEAR 'Jesus in my Heart' Anniversary? asking for a friend.
Seriously, this was truly a cornerstone moment in my life. OK, I admit at age 6 I had neither a grasp on theology or anatomy but it was the very real beginning of my Christian journey.
Now 50+ years as a follower of Jesus Christ I am still a work in progress. I have made my share of compromises, bad choices, and had many regrets over the years.
But I look back fondly at that day in 1963 when I accepted Jesus in my heart. He has been there through all my ups and downs. I may have wandered a ways on my Prodigal Son vents a few times, but He was always there for me when I return.
So on this August day in 2020 I look forward to the next curve on life's road, and see the sun and son shining in my life. I am not ready to get off the ride, and the reward of Jesus in my life is better than any old Gold Watch.
Jeff (50+ in the Back Pew) Larson
It is common knowledge in the church that all those who accept Jesus Christ as their savior automatically receive an eternal life insurance (ELI) plan protecting them from Hell Fire . This ELI plan is a must for all those who value eternity.., I highly recommend it. No monthly premiums to remember, so why not sign up today.
But, besides the ELI policy featured in the Gospels I was concerned regarding the life and health insurance needs for an extremely violent Old Testament. What happens what tragedy strikes?Then after researching Google and after about 7 red bulls at 3 a.m. I uncovered the little known but powerful insurance plan known as the Aflack Apocrypha Comprehensive Insurance Plan (AACI). AACI covered the following significant Bible moments and more..
Other probable insurance claims I noticed were..
So there you have it.. The Aflack Apocrypha (AACI) . This was the original 'We know a thing or two cuz we've seen a thing or two' insurance company.
Note: I am pretty sure this illustrated blog/writing/policy outline will NOT become an accepted part of the canon of scripture, but I am ok with that since I confess.. I never googled the Alfack Apocrypha.. I made it up.. (insert shock & awe here). I don't drink red bulls, and I certainly at my age am not up at 3 a.m. unless I have to pee. TMI TMI
note: If you have great Health, Dental, and Vision insurance now.. GREAT.. but if you don't have the assurance of Heaven in your future (John 3:16).. then you are under-insured. There is only one way to Heaven (John 14:6). In this case there is no better time than NOW to give your life to God.
May God bless you with health and good insurance on Earth... and the promise of someday Heaven with our Jesus.
Jeff ( Insured by Grace ) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson