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 Too many believe the Bible is outdated and in order to fit God's word into their 'evolved cultured' sensibilities they in effect redact passages they do not agree with and/or use scripture out of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
Lukewarm Coffee (LWC) exists in a land between hot and cold where room temperature is king. Welcome to the Twilight Zone of brews. LWCs most often was once a well intended piping hot cup of coffee but then was forgotten or ignored. They are the 'stale donuts' of the beverage world.
And last I checked, neither Starbucks or Dunn Brothers feature lukewarm coffee. GO FIGURE! Not not even for a niche target market of very plain boring people dressed in old sweats, bed hair, and a 2 day beard eating plain white bread from the bag while demanding their LWC.
No one wants lukewarm coffee, and I believe the only acceptable use for it is .. when I have a splitting headache with two Excedrin in my hand and I spot a cup of LWC near me to help wash down the meds before my head explodes.
Of course our Bibles speak often on the topic of coffee (ie Hebrews hahaha), and even tackles the specific topic of LWC in Revelations 3:15-16 where the angel of the church of Laodicea speaks out.. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (like a cup of lukewarm generic instant decaf coffee with non-dairy creamer and a sweetener substitute).
note: If you did not guess, the part in parenthesis was not from 'The Message'.. I added it myself to emphasize my LWC point.
But there is a very sobering interpretation of this scripture. Being a LWC believer (even with sweetener added) is not a safe place to be. Will lukewarm get me to Heaven? Well, the whole God spitting me out of His mouth is a pretty clear NO... IMO.
God is not amused by half-hearted devotion. In fact God sounds frustrated, dare I say disgusted in Revelations 3:15-16 when we are only playing church.
So I read this passage and look at my life. I am a good guy, no major ( or minor ) crimes, I go to church most every week. I love God, my family, and have good friends making this life good.. for ME, BUT.. am I actually living a lukewarm cup of decaf and a stale donut communion lifestyle? I like to think not, but it is an honest question.
What if honestly my thoughts, and passions revolve around ME?.. What if my resources, and my prayers feature ME?.. What if the movie of my life stars ME? and I attend church not with worship in my heart and mind but instead it has become my weekly good deed ritual for pretty good guys . Then maybe I am a LWC believer.
So in my 'Spiritual Coffee Analogy' how would an angel of God describe you? Hot, cold, or a 3 day old LWC brew with cream curdling at the top? I am NOT saying being anything less than the next Billy Graham or Mother Theresa is lukewarm.. but please DO NOT be indifferent about the creator of this world or others in need.
My prayer today is God will bless and speak to each of you. May we listen to His voice and serve Him like never before in a way that is anything but lukewarm.
Jeff (aspiring to be a Grande Latte) Larson
"I am off to pick a fight." is one of my favorite lines from one the movie.. ‘BraveHeart’.. not to be confused with Brave-Bird. see picture -->
BraveHeart is the story of William Wallace of Scotland fighting for the FRREEEDOMM against the oppressive rule of England. At one dramatic scene from the movie BraveHeart the Scots who were greatly outnumbered by the English are about to do battle. The well armed, well trained English did not take this rag-tag Scottish army seriously. But then after declaring.. “I am off to PICK A FIGHT.” .. in rides William Wallace (Mel Gibson) on his horse to mess with the peace negotiations between the Scots and England.
I won’t get into the details, but Wallace taunts and mocks the English until.. yes THERE WAS A FIGHT… and the Scots win!
The significant message of this movie is a call to do what is right no matter the cost, even the cost of maybe their lives.
Of course as modern day Christians we are not called to look for a fight, but we should NEVER be afraid to FIGHT for God's Truth. We answer to God, not to man. Some may cry out.. No, no, not the Crusades again…I go to church, I am a good person.. Please no Crusades 2019 unless they are like the Billy Graham Crusades. Billy Graham is good and I don't remember him in a fight.
Others recall.. "Jesus was about love. That's the Jesus we like.. the one about love. we don't associate with Christians who speak out against abortion, Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, or the LGBTQ like claims that there are more genders than Baskin Robbins has flavors of ice cream (31). Then the media beats their drum of secular outrage with stories about the dangerous bigoted 'religious right'. They guilt many for wanting to build a wall, owning a gun, or for even being white. Why should I feel guilty that my parents were white? Then every election year like lemmings we are pressured to run full speed off either a republican or democrat/socialist cliff following our political allegiances before considering God's Truth.
We are afraid of the fight if we are political, pro-Israel, or against Sharia Law lest we be labeled a Islamophobe. Please I am not one of THOSE Christians. I am a good person, who never makes waves.. I am like Jesus who is about love.. remember? All this pressure to conform and fear of a fight with our society railing against traditional Christian values melts many into doing their best Piglet of Winnie the Pooh fame (a devout pacifist).. as we fret and worry stammering “Oh d-dear, oh d-dear!!.
But let's slow down and consider a couple examples from our Bibles.
David, leveled the giant Goliath, and cut off his head for daring to mock God. There was no peace negotiations with the enemy of God, and there was victory for David standing up against this Pagan.
and the best example..
Jesus the Son of God...
To summarize the example of Jesus, and how this should set with his church.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated Jesus before it hated you. If you are of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but Jesus chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Most likely we are not called to a literal bloody nose like fight, or to be the church version of Antifa.. but never EVER back down from living and teaching God's truth.
Important Note: Picking a Fight is also the fight for THOSE IN NEED, and the LOST? What good is our faith if it is only about our own well being?
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
May God bless each of us today as we pursue and defend God’s truth. May God smile at, and bless our sincere efforts to serve Him and others, and lovingly correct us when we fall… and may God bless us and use us in ways that are BEYOND OUR DREAMS.
Jeff (bruise like a peach) Larson
note: With us all in the fight for God's Truth, let's calm down the internal fights in the church. We should stand for God's word to be honored in the church and while there are differences in the body.. The cry of "heretic" is overused by those we differ with.
What happened? Was I out for 5 minutes when everything changed? Didn't up used to be up and down .. down.. not the other way around? And I am pretty sure too that WRONG is now the new RIGHT.
Let's start with a few easy ones from where I sit observing our society.
So you see.. Wrong is the new Right.
We are numbed and dumbed down to vulgar language and violence in movies, TV, and pop/hip hop/rap music. Sex before marriage, and teen sexuality is assumed not discouraged. Everyone claims to be a victim, or bullied which muddies truth of those who truly are victims and/or bullied. AND anyone who voices a contrary view is expressing HATE SPEECH.
The #MeToo movement, terms like toxic masculinity, and white privilege too often dilute if not poison truth and justice. Then we throw the old KKK in with the new rage (literally) Antifa (anti-fascists? not!). They are nothing more than masked domestic terrorists.
We are a culture who on one hand munch on popcorn while being entertained by horror, violence, the occult, or the sorted story of a serial killer, BUT.. think that our 2nd amendment rights are the root of all evil. Wrong is new Right.
Even in the church simple choices of right and wrong are more carefully handled than a suicide vest by a bomb squad whose only training was using the old 'Operation board game'. We are so deathly afraid to call sin.. a sin in fear others will judge us as judgmental.
My concern/observation is The church (as a whole) is 1/2 afraid to speak truth in love afraid of the mess it may cause, and the other 1/2 appears to be like the frog in the boiling pan of water slowly cooking in our new boiling Baptismal Jacuzzi unaware the temp is rising. We are no longer salt and light as commanded in Mt 5:13-16, but excuse this compromise with the broad brushed statement.. We are about love, Jesus is love.
I agree Jesus is love, but this love included speaking directly about sin. He may have called the religious leaders a brood of vipers, but he also lovingly spoke truth to the woman at the well. How would Jesus have been loving if he did not speak the whole truth? In fact I believe Jesus referenced Hell 46 times. Hell is the scary truth regarding sin.
Same with Paul, he was loving but so direct about sin not because it was on his legalistic DO NOT DO list but because sin is harmful to the body and soul.
Let's even be more basic about TRUTH. We as Christians believe there is one way to Heaven and that is Jesus. To share this truth should be the most important truth we can share. BUT agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, etc would disagree. So do we quit sharing this truth because it might offend.. but let them go to Hell?
Do we just gently say, well we all believe generally in the same thing 'higher power' so.. peace be still.. Or remain silent because I respect your feelings so much that I would rather let you go to Hell for eternity than offend you today on Earth. This is so very Wrong, and.. the new Right
I also believe there is a growing population in the church that doubt the inerrancy of the Scriptures. It's understandable to have questions on Bible issues we do not understand, but it is alarming to doubt that it is truly God's word.
-Insert Head Slap here-
MY OWN MESS - Let me be very clear, I am such a sinner.. aka made lotsa mistakes. I have trouble with my temper, watched movies and laughed at jokes I should not have. I have made compromises, told altered truths (aka lies) and all the other goodies that many of us do.
I am also a man who compromised too many years with alcohol (aka alcoholic), and it was ruining my life. I share the cartoon on the left that is typically received understandably with collective cringes as it is NOT FUNNY, but it is was becoming my story.
So in response to my drinking my wife expressed to me in love and sometimes the appropriate amount of anger "YOU NEED TO QUIT DRINKING. This is not good for you, it is not good for your family." So my question is.. was my wife intolerant and judgmental of me as a person, or was she directly and loving me tell me my alcohol use was hurting me and my family? Well, I believe I would be dead now if I continued drinking. To be honest I did not always welcome her words and would soften them by saying I would do better next time, but bottom-line my wife's loving admonishment CHANGED MY LIFE. I thank God for my wife and my three adult kids who lovingly told me truth. Making a Wrong in my life a new Right.
So in this world where WRONG is the new RIGHT how shall we participate? In our society compromised by ignorance, arrogance, and self we need to stand firm, in love and always stand for God's Truth.. because as they say.. Two Wrongs don't make a Right.
May God bless each of you to boldly go each day into a world that may hate you for saying RIGHT is still right, and WRONG is still wrong.
Thank you for indulging me sharing this topic of societal angst that is on my heart.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson