Life again reminds me we are all so very busy with days filled and choices to be made. Sometimes I feel like a contestant on the Price is Right TV show and I randomly choose door number #3 today.. and hope for the best.
So to help guide our life decisions I would like to suggest the Closed Fist and Open Hand approach.
But.. a serious dilemma occurs when we mix our Open Hand and Closed Fist views. Just think if an alcoholic who continues to drink, a marriage without fidelity, or if I decide not to pay my bills on time.. or pay them at all. All are a recipe for disaster.
Of course, Open Hand and Closed Fist views are rubbed in our faces when we turn on the evening news where Washington is filled with Closed Fists ready to punch political opponents in the nose.. or lower. I guess this is what Washington calls 'reaching across the aisle'.
Now finally, how's the old Open Hand v Closed Fist working with God's people? From my vantage point, not so good. Just a glance on my Twitter account I could imagine..
Seriously, the church can be a prickly place. Not just your basic Predestined v Free Will, eternal security, or are Infant Baptisms ok debates? There are more serious divisions where when we do not agree on the interpretation of a passage of scriptures then someone must be a HERETIC... when maybe we really don't know and simply disagree. But then to be fair again.. some teachings are heresy.
God save us! No really, GOD SAVE US!
Now take it with a grain of salt that you are reading a blog from 'a grownup' who draws cartoons, but the following is my exhaustive (or exhausting) guide to Closed Fist and Open Hands in the Church.
The reason for writing today's blog was fueled by ongoing battles among well known evangelicals, and then watching the 'Christian' media and 'Christian' social media fanning the flames that divide us.
Of course I do believe in addressing sin and true heresy in the church. BUT.. I pray for a biblical approach.
Sigh.. Maybe from time to time I will just open my clenched fist and slap myself.
I am not positive today's blog is helpful, but the spirit of it is on my heart. May God use my fumbling words to speak truth or the desire for us all to seek truth.
May God bless you in your busy lives. Be true to God, stand for Him, know your Bibles, have good friends, and eat all your veggies. :)
Jeff ( in between a slap, tickle, & a fist fight) Larson
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
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