Ready, set, go! These are the words spoken to start a backyard or neighborhood race, but NOT an Olympic 100-meter race. I think they use a pistol. But for today's ramble, I 'ready, set, go' will suffice as I discuss the race called 'LIFE.'
Of course, in 'LIFE,' the goal is NOT to finish fast (aka die young), but instead run a good race (2 Timothy 4:7) and live life to the full (John 10:10).
READY SET GO... Life starts at conception, and in about 9 months, there is a new born baby. But as we all know, babies are not very FAST.
But no matter if babies are slow out of the gate (they sleep a lot) it is our READY SET GO starting point.
So go already... GO!
My 'ready set go' baby moment was in August 1957. I was raised by loving Christian parents, gave my heart to Jesus at age 6, and was baptized at 14, all while my family attended a small-town church where I learned to love Jesus.
After this, I did my version of grown-up life by getting a job, falling in love, getting married, having kids, and owning a dog or two. Dogs are important.
Important Note: I was (and am) a pretty good guy., but any 'pretty good guy or gal' lives any of us live is a relative existence when compared to others instead of God's Word.
Over the years, I have made several observations
Mistakes will be made on everyone's LIFE journey. Poor choices and unfortunate circumstances can leave us at times with overwhelming regrets and burdens. BUT... God's Grace redeems a repentant heart. Do not be anchored to your past. With Jesus, there is hope for us all. God listens and answers prayers in big and small ways. Trust in Him, and don't dwell on your past.
And WHEN not IF you fall, it's never too late to begin again knowing God loves you (John 3:16).
Ready, set, GO already as you prayerfully ... Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8.
No GPS is required...
And it goes without saying...avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Route 666, even if society's GPS recommends it as the easiest and fastest route. Instead, be on the less traveled narrow road using God's Word and prayer as your guide that leads on the right path for this life and someday Heaven. Mt 7:13-14.
This ends my 'Ready, set... GO!' summary of life. It matters eternally how you run this race. I pray we all run it in a way that shows our love for God and others.
May God bless and lead each of you on your own 'Ready Set Go' journey. Whether you live to be 100 or not, this life is a blink of an eye. Finish Well.
Jeff (Already 66 years down this road! YIKES!) Larson
Ever console yourself regarding your behavior, words, judgments, and/or circumstances that make you look bad by qualifying these moments with the following.... “Well, at least I am not like so-in-so."
With these simple words, I prop up my relative goodness by comparing myself with someone I deem as more flawed than me. And just like that... WHAM BAM my life is graded on a gentle self-affirming curve.
Using this self-affirming yardstick, let me share a few 'at least I never' moments from the Bible and today for you to measure your goodness. Are you ready? Let’s get started.
The Old Testament
The New Testament
Of course, these 'at least I never' examples are only here to make you smile, as any comparison to another person is a flawed yardstick at best.
Instead, we are called to Love God with all our heart and love others, not compare (i.e., 'at least I never' ) with them.
Also, concerning our goodness... We are not so good.
Our sins are as scarlet, He makes them white as snow. Isaiah 1:18
for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
AGAIN... all are Justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus! This is our hope and promise from God and not by comparison to anyone you are 'at least not like'.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
May God bless and comfort you with these promises of God's Grace for a repentant heart and where you no longer look to rely on any 'at least I never' yardstick.
Jeff (at least I do not attend a snake handler church) Larson
I remember back when I was a kid in gym class and did not want to be the last kid chosen for a team. I don't like to brag, but I was not that kid.
I was a decent athlete, and even if the game was dodgeball, I was always a solid pick. Of course, I may have been that last pick if there was a robotics team back then.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief. God does not operate that way. He seems to like the odd ducks, misfits, and unlikely picks to be on his team, even leading his team.
Need proof? Below are just a few God chose for his team.
Speaking of sheep, God chose a shepherd boy named David to 1. slay a giant named Goliath and 2. become the first great KING of Israel!
Then, off to the NEW TESTAMENT.. where Jesus did not choose men right out of seminary' as his disciples. Their resumes referenced talents such as 'fishing' and 'tax collecting' but not a youth pastor or worship leader credential to be found. Seminary background, maybe? Lol, not so much. Not even experience as the side ushers at the Temple. So, without checking their LinkedIn profiles, Jesus simply said... "Follow me."
And remember Jesus' words to the thief on the cross... "This very day, you will be with me in paradise." shortly before he died.
Noting the obvious: Being a thief is NOT who we 'good Christians' would choose. At the very least, we might require a probationary period, yet Jesus did just that. He 'chose' the thief for his team. That is how big God's Grace is.
Next, God chooses the very first 'Missionary' to share the Gospel with the world!
"With the first pick, in the first round of the first Gospel Missionary Draft, I choose Saul of Tarsus." These are the paraphrased words of Jesus as Saul travels the Road to Damascus. His actual words were, "Saul, why do you persecute me?" which included a blinding light.
WHAT? This same Saul was Pharisee of Pharisees and was recently spotted checking coats at the stoning of Stephen? Yep, that Saul.
... Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest Acts 9:1
Serious Red Flag- I believe choosing a guy breathing threats and murder against the disciples was a RISKY choice, but that's just me.
Now, fast forward a couple thousand years and some changes to 2023.
I have not experienced a literal burning bush while walking my dog or a blinding light on my way to the Grocery store, but I still believe I am chosen and capable.
Not that it makes sense based on my relative and limited qualifications of cartooning (aka coloring between the lines), but in fact, we are all chosen. Chosen not only for eternity in Heaven but also to serve in big and small ways now.
So do not keep God in a box or a lid on what is possible regarding the blessings and opportunities to serve.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8
Just like Isaiah, listen for God's leading in big and small ways, and when God calls on you... reply, "Here am I? Pick me! Pick me!"
May God bless and use you in ways BEYOND YOUR DREAMS and all that God intends.
Jeff (Chosen.. go figure) Larson
Even those of us who are not big Joel Osteen fans have to admit we desire what Joel writes in his best seller... 'Your Best Life Now'. Living a life that reaches its full potential, I mean, who does not desire to be successful, fit, prosperous, lacking for nothing, and maybe with a smidge of power. To have, and lack for nothing while unleashing the inner you. LOOK OUT WORLD!
But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
At face value, there is nothing wrong with living life to your full potential. Being disciplined, hard-working, and resourceful are all admirable attributes. In fact, they are Godly attributes, aren't they?... But maybe this is putting the personal success cart before the Kingdom of God horse. Where in living 'Your Best Life Now' do I fit the seeking God's Kingdom FIRST part?
My point in writing this is NOT just a slam directed at a Joel Osteen mantra but also little ol' Christians like me who live a more traditional Christian theology. Do I, do I... Seek God first?
It is very much like the Lord's Prayer Matthew 6:5-15 where Jesus starts with... "Our Father who is in Heaven, great is your name. YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." All this Jesus prays before getting to the ME portion of the Lord's Prayer... "give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our debts as we forgive others, and lead us not into temptation."
I love Matthew 6:33 as it tweaks the focus of my day to seek God's kingdom first. To worship, love, and serve Him throughout my day. I even want to live my best life now but this must start with His Kingdom and His people.
To love God with all my heart soul and mind and others as myself. Living my best life now where my faith produces works (James 2:14-26 ) of service.
So my prayer is for His people to seek His kingdom first. May God bless and lead each of you on this life journey.
Our Father who is in Heaven, GREAT is your name... Your kingdom come, YOUR WILL be done ON EARTH as it is in Heaven.
Many of you know this is the start of the Lord's Prayer (Mt 6:9-13) and we should NOT gloss over this prayer introduction to get to the GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY (me me me) BREAD part. Of course, our God hears, cares, and answers prayers for our needs & well-being BUT...
today let's focus on God's will not my will.
God's Will on Earth? So how is that working out?
With all the tension among believers, I am looking for an MMA pay-per-view event featuring Catholics v Protestants to determine once and for all.. who really is saved? It can't be 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.
But while I DO LIKE BUNNY TRAILS.. let us now return to the LORD'S PRAYER. God your will be done on Earth.. starting with .. Jeff.
Throughout my life (I am 65 now) I have prayed "Lord show me your will for my life." many times. At times regarding big decisions and that is good always to seek the Lord and His will, but I have come to realize this prayer "what is your will for my life?" can become me-centric.
Prayers focusing on the right job, house, finding Mrs. Right/Larson, or even a car purchase wanting God's can become my own little Prosperity Gospel prayer rather than 'thy will' pointing to God's kingdom (souls saved, and a society honoring Him).
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. And so I guess living in Minnesota and being COLDER is about what I deserve.
Truth is (insert light bulb moment for me here) The prayer "Lord what is your will for my life?" should be more specific... "Lord how can I serve you today, show me what I can do for your kingdom." "How can I be that part of the Lord's Prayer helping God's Will be Done?
What would that look like if God's will was being done by those of us in the church? What if we were faithful in the moments that make up our days? What if we truly worshipped God in words and deeds with our eyes first on God and then on the needs of others? What would that look like?
Even my little Back Pew Ministry. I am blessed to be used by God in a way that He uniquely wired me. but even in my world of cartoons, I can take my eyes off of humbly being used by God in this small way to pray for God to bless The Back Pew into becoming The FarSide, or Calvin & Hobbes of Christian cartoons, complete with a modest (OR.. substantial) income. "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"
In recent years I have become more intentional in MY PURSUIT OF GOD. While I am and always will be a work in progress and have not resulted in an exorcism of my old self, 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 GOD'S WILL is done on Earth as it is in Heaven. AMEN."
I write this hoping it does not take any of you 65 years to figure out God's will for you to serve Him. But if it does, 65 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 -->
I like the old saying ‘That guy is so Heavenly minded, he is no Earthly good.’ This describes a person is so in to church and ‘churchy’ things that they don’t add much value or function outside of church walls. He can barely change a light bulb or change the oil on his car.
Over the years I have smirked at a person or twenty that fits that description, BUT I also see the irony in too many people are so 'EARTHLY' minded to be much 'HEAVENLY' GOOD.
It's just too easy to be caught up in the pace and 'stuff' of life (good and bad) to where God is put on the back burner. Instead of starting my day quiet before God, reading my Bible, and even uttering a simple prayer I am off cluttering my life with the very real demands of work, rush hour traffic, wasting time surfing channels on my big screen HD TV, or my many many many family commitments to where I have become more EARTHLY minded/focused to be much HEAVENLY good.
The real irony here is.. I often drift from God NOT when I am too busy or stressed but instead when life is good. No immediate worries or concerns so I relax my dependence, praise and appreciation of God to again become so earthly minded with erroneous feelings of self sufficiency.
I don’t believe my life is called to look as out of place like Amish folk selling home crafts in Las Vegas.. but I desire my personal faith show through in all that I do and say.
May your life be blessed and USED by God in ways that are BEYOND YOUR DREAMS having both Heaven and Earth in mind.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Mt. 6:10
The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts discovered in 1946/47 at the Qumran Caves. These scrolls are considered to be a keystone in the history of archaeology with great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the oldest surviving manuscripts of entire books later included in the biblical canons.
In another lesser known cave (Bob's Cave) was discovered the following 'manuscripts' scribed (aka scribbled) on five napkins from a popular first century delicatessen Shapiro's Deli. These napkins are covered with what is believed to be the fingerprint smudges in mayo and DNA samples of the one and only Apostle Paul. Of course the authentication of these 'Napkins from Bob's Cave' has their doubters as we unfortunately don't have a sample of Paul's DNA for a true match. So I will go with my gut feeling to their authenticity. If you disagree .. suit yourself.
excerpt from Bob's Cave 'napkin #1'
Hi, my name is Paul and let me tell you a bit about myself. Before I ever traveled any dusty Damascus road I was a big shot Pharisee who went by the name of Saul. The last thing I was .. was a Christian. In fact I was in charge of putting an end to this original 'Jesus People' nonsense.
As a young man, I even checked coats during the Stoning of Stephen. Acts 7:58
It was said about me in Acts 9:1-2 that I breathed out murderous threats against the disciples of The Way. I sought to find any (men or women) who belonged to this new movement, and take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
We were NOT on the same team!
This was my life's mission.. my purpose until that day on that road to Damascus when I saw the light (both literally & figuratively). Of course my momma always said don’t look directly into the sun or you’ll burn out your eye balls.. well.. momma was right.
But this light stopped me dead in my tracks like a traffic light on main street .. and there was a voice from the light calling me by name “Saul (my friends used to call me Saul).. why are you persecuting me?” These were the words of truth from Jesus and they cut me to the core. Acts 9:3-5 This light, this voice, this Jesus had my full attention.
So here I am blind as a bat with cataracts and have to be led the rest of the way to Damascus. This is where I met God and to show God’s ironic sense of humor. I resigned from my position as ‘Chief Church Prosecutor / Persecutor’ and make a 180 degree change now sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to both the Jews and Gentiles.
excerpt from Bob's Cave 'napkin #2'
Once my sight returned I could not stop preaching Jesus Christ. I was of course at first received cautiously by Christians who were unsure of my motives as my whole breathing murders and threats up until this point made a negative impression. GO FIGURE.. , and my whole 'Jesus loves me this I know' attitude was now also a 'mystery wrapped in an enigma' with my Pharisee Lodge brothers.
But in time Christians saw my passion for Jesus was real, and the Jewish community realized this was not a Pharisee mid-life crisis. My life would never be the same. It was a very dangerous, but miraculous time to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but this would be my journey/mission for the rest of my days.
There was even a time where differences between myself and Silas resulted in us prayerfully and respectfully going different directions while still both serving the same God. There were some who were concerned that we would not come to agreement, but we liked to use the little word denominations to accommodate 'the church' being described as one body of many parts. Not sure this will ever catch on. Anyways..
It was a time to sing , and a time of high drama , and a time to stand up to share truth that Jesus is the Messiah!
Side note: I also remember when a young man named Eutychus fell asleep during one of my sermons, fell from a balcony to his death, but .. got better?
Anyways let’s just say from this day forward this young man was known as the unofficial patron saint for those who ‘sleep in church’ . And no hard feelings towards Eutychus, I tend to get a little long winded when I preach.
excerpt from Bob's Cave 'napkin #3'
It was the Tale of Two Ministries where it was the best of times, and the worst of times. It was a time of both great revival and great persecution. And no matter the price or personal loss the gospel message of Jesus Christ must be told to both the Jews (God’s chosen people) and also the Gentile (that is everyone else).
It was a time where zealous anger of the religious establishment had me arrested while others plotted my death .
Of course prison life, and being hated by those in power was not on my 'bucket list'.. BUT God was able to use these times to share his Gospel truth like only He could. While I suffered, God gave me peace that none of this was about me, but It was about sharing the greater hope in Jesus Christ.
excerpt from Bob's Cave 'napkin #4'
I even endured a storm at sea , and was shipwrecked on the island of Malta. I believe the name of the boat was the S.S. Minnow, and if not for the courage of the fearless crew we would have all perished . Special thanks go out to the Skipper and his first mate.. who I think the professor called.. Gilligan.
Then while around a fire on this island I was bit by a poisonous snake . Of course God protected me again.. I shook off the snake and the only frustrating after affect was that several of the crew took this as a sign to start a ‘Snake Handler Church’. Oh brother!
After 3 months on this Island we set sail again and made our trip to Jerusalem where again I could plead my case for Jesus and the truth that he was the son of God who came to earth, lived, was crucified for our sins, and was resurrected, and now is in Heaven with the Father.
excerpt from Bob's Cave 'napkin #5'
What a great honor for God to choose me the once great hater of the church to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! God is so good, and I am blessed.
To sum it all up after the Damascus Road I was blinded, beaten, hated, ship wrecked, snake bit, and had a discount punch card for all my time spent in jail… BUT truth be told.. I was too busy serving to really notice.
These were the best years of my life.
My prayer today is that God blesses each of your lives with opportunities to serve Him and others in ways that make your lives full and complete. In ways that are beyond your dreams.
Be faithful in the moments that make up your day, and may your happiness never be measured in comfort or wealth but in service to God and others. When you discover this, then you also will be living the best years of your lives.
Ok, there you have it. The Apostle Paul's life summed up on 5 (2000 year old) delicatessen napkins. I am not sure why the world is not convinced of their authenticity. Ok, other detractors of these 'manuscripts' note they were written in English and included cartoons.. but I still believe. MAYBE.
Anyways, we do not need these 5 napkins to prove out the life and times of the Apostle Paul. We have the book of Acts, and all his letters/epistles recorded in the New Testament. The true and beautiful message of Paul's life is one of a calling from God to know Him and to serve Him. I believe all have this calling in big and small ways. As recorded in 'napkin #5' (maybe).. we are ALL called to be faithful in the moments that make up our days. Obedience to this call is where true joy and fulfillment comes from.
May God bless each of you and find you obedient to His call on your life to where you are living the best years of your life.
Jeff (best days ever) Larson
Lukewarm Coffee (The LWC) is that Twiligtht Zone coffee existence between hot and cold brews where a well intended piping hot cup is forgotten or ignored. And last I checked, Starbucks does not feature LWC anywhere on their menus. Nor is there a coffee target market serving drab people wearing old sweats, doning bed hair, with a 2 day beard eating plain white bread from the bag who is demanding luke warm coffee.
NO ONE wants lukewarm coffee, though I have .. it is GOOD when I have a headache and I spot a half a cup of LWC sitting around from the morning to wash down two Excedrin.
Also note this concern of LWC is a big enough that God speaks 'directly' to the topic in Revelations where the angel of the church of Laodicea exclaims..
“‘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 room temp generic instant decaf coffee using a non-dairy creamer and a sweetener substitute). Revelations 3:15-16
note: the excerpt in parenthesis was not from 'The Message'.. I added it for my LWC emphasis.
But there is a very sobering message in this scripture. Being a LWC believer (even with sweetener added) is not a safe place to be. Will a lukewarm faith get me to Heaven? Well, the whole God spitting me out of His mouth seems to be a pretty clear NO.
God is not amused by a half-hearted devotion or playing church when our worship and love is deserved.
Next let's move to the LWC Fellowship Center (aka Church) where I observe being seeker friendly with attendance and the Worship 'Show' have become a misguided measure of spirituality. 'Giving the people what they want instead of what they need is lukewarm at best.'
This, while hearing sermons that nothing more than a 'be a better you' pep talk without starting with a repentant heart. Note: Getting my heart right with God trumps getting what I want.
Next, read John 6:25-59 where Jesus speaks clearly to His followers ..
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
When many of his disciples heard it (Jesus teaching), they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (The Truth? They could not handle the Truth!) 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (Jesus message was not very seeker friendly). 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him (with a Hot Coffee Faith), “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
So in this LWC world with LWC churches, I pray we follow God with a Hot Coffee Faith just like Peter. Truly , "Lord, to whom else shall we go, You have the words of eternal life."
I am, you are, and we the Church are called to be the the salt and light and THE HOT COFFEE for this world serving lukewarm flavorless substitutes for truth.. in the dark.
May God bless and use you in ways that are BEYOND YOUR DREAMS for HIM!
Jeff (aspiring to be a Grande Latte) Larson
Where do you think you are going or 'yer goin' for us rednecks at heart? Honest question that can be asked of most of us. And many times the answer is.. "you can't get there from here."
This question holds true on many a road trip where I became lost, or took what I thought was short cut.
This is true for many a college graduate looking for a high paying job in Corporate America with a Masters degree in 'Cartoon Art History' with a minor in 'Bagpiping'. or that..
Mountain Climber aspiring to climb Mt. Everest, but unwilling to leave his home state of Nebraska. or..
taking a 'road trip' from California to Hawaii.
In all these cases and more.. the answer is .. you can't get there from here. While these may be absurd and hopefully amusing examples, there is a more alarming examples in today's culture.
I observe a trend in church becoming a Sunday Social Club where we go to be fed/entertained every week but never really seek God on a deeper level. We do not devote our lives to God except to be a pretty good person. Not exactly a high calling.
Will being a pretty good person get me to Heaven, or does God expect more of me? Where do I think I am going? Heaven? This is not a pointing my finger at anyone else before I point it at myself.
Is my life foremost about ME, or is it about my God? Honestly, what is my answer? Umm.. easier to talk about politics in church than my honest commitment to my creator.
The following are a few scripture passages, that are convicting and give clarity to this question? Where do I think I am going?
I Never Knew You
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Mt 7:21-23
What good is it to love those who love you?
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Lk 6:32-36
So based on the road I have chosen for my life.. am I going to Heaven or not? Am I a true follower of Christ or just another 'church goer'? How about you? It matters eternally what we believe so choose the God of our Bibles. There is no other God.
But many are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or simply believe in a 'higher power' and so we all believe basically the same thing, right?
I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, Is 45:5
So sincerely wrong is still wrong.
Now you may argue with me that I am wrong, but this is what I believe. So the answer for me to the statement we all believe in basically the same thing is.. If you want to get to Heaven.. You can't get there from here.
So take these words for what it is worth. I am sure I am preaching to the choir for the most part, but even us in the choir need to daily turn to God and consider seriously.. Do I serve Him first and foremost in our lives.. going beyond being a good (church goer) person?
And for those not in the choir, I respect where you are at, but prayerfully take to heart the issue of Eternity. It matters what you believe and where you place your faith. Placing your faith in Jesus, and pursuing God first in your life, then with regards to eternity, and Heaven.. You CAN get there from here.
May God bless and use us all with our lives for his glory. Amen.
Jeff (a little bit lost sometimes) Larson
important ETERNITY note: The alternative to not getting to Heaven from here.. is Hell. It is our choice alone. Heaven is the free gift from God to those who place their hope and lives in Him. Hell is the awful other choice we all are allowed to make.
There is no destination in between Heaven & Hell for being a pretty good person.
Me, myself, and I. Me.. me.. me. , What about me? , What's in it for ME?
A few years back I heard a great sermon where our pastor described the Me-Monster. I have to admit I don't recall much of the sermon, but I remember it was good AND it impressed on my cartoonist brain to sketch in my sermon notes The Me-Monster.
So I brought Mr. Me-Monster home scanned him into my computer and did a little Photoshop extreme makeover on him all so I could share his surly mugshot with you. And so BEHOLD.. The Me-Monster.
The Me-Monster is an ugly fella, and even his open mouth resembles an M, and the back of his throat an E. The disturbing thing about this Me-Monster is that when our motives, focus, and actions are focused on .. SELF.. any of us can become a pretty gnarly looking creature too.
We all notice this world is filled with attention seeking ME-folk flaunting their success and perceived self-importance without a speck of humility. So many celebrities, athletes, and politicians out there in front of the camera as self appointed experts on topics they have not a clue. They share their pious golden nuggets of 'truth' to the masses fawning for adoration... all while you can hear the wind whistling through their ears.
And our society measures our own success by the car, home, career, a trophy wife or hubby with good looking kids on the honor roll, and captain of their sports teams. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of these things unless it inspires a me-monster ego trip.
Now for me, I have more of an econo-sized Me-Monster. My monster does not get identity from a high profile existence, nor does my life check all the boxes above of how society measures success, but my me-monster still likes to be known even if on a budget.
You see I care what others think about me, and to be respected and viewed as successful. I desire to have friends, and of course I seek the love of my wife, my adult children, and grandchildren. I also do not want to be known for my past failings.
This also is all ok, in fact good except if I do not seek God first, and know His love and forgiveness, and while what others think is important, what is most important is how God sees me.
In fact any level of success or any talents I have are from the Lord. So who is any man to boast. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 Cor 4:7
I could ramble on about ME as I am prone to do, but wanted to conclude with again God's two greatest commandments. 'Love God with all your soul and mind and others as yourself.' Mt 22:37.
What if I focused my life on these words of Jesus? Then all the details and trimmings of this life while nice would be trivia to a life well lived... and no Me-Monster.
So I pray for God's Holy Spirit to lead me, and for me to trust His direction so that I can SERVE Him and others. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and finally in all things to God be the glory!
May God bless and use each of you in ways that are beyond your dreams. May our lives be about God's Kingdom and not ours. And may you be Me-Monster free.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson