I am lamenting the last couple of days where I find myself HELD CAPTIVE by CIRCUMSTANCES outside my control. I have listed a few of these circumstances mostly outside of my control, but there are more... many many more.
Below is my Reader's Digest abbreviated version...
The circumstances of a corrupt government that is at best cordial to Christians but more times hostile.
The circumstances of a corrupt/greedy Health Care system that is out of control hellbent on $$ and becoming government controlled. Q. When has government control of ANYTHING been a good idea?
The circumstances of a world of war, hate, and distrust.
Then in our culture...
The circumstances of this a culture where we have a PRIDE MONTH celebrating sin.
The circumstances of a society that cannot even tell you 'What is a Woman', and feels the urgency to declare its pronouns.
The circumstances where biological men (identifying as women) compete against biological women to the ruin of women's sports.
The circumstances of GREED where our desires for more are fueled by envy and the lust for pleasures of all kind.
Then in the church...
The circumstances of a 'Christian' church culture is divided over secondary issues and refuses to unite on the primary issues of loving God and caring for others.
The circumstances of a 'Christian' church culture that is more afraid of offending the ways of our pagan culture than offending our Creator.
The circumstances where 'Christians' on social media declare heresy constantly like the boy who cried wolf.
and finally in my heart...
The circumstances where I do not see the trees from the forest in my spiritual journey. Where the above distractions and more block me from feeling the warmth of God's presence.
SO... this was my morning. This world's circumstances clouded my vision and my struggling spirit with angst strained joy from me.
But as I discussed my circumstance-beaten spirit with my wonderful wife Mary. We stopped and prayed for all of the above and more and for specifics in our lives and with our friends and family and their circumstances.
We said amen, and for all we know none of our circumstances miraculously changed. But my spirit changed to where His Spirit impressed on me that cares for us outside above and through any circumstance of this broken world. THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE.
So no deep thoughts of course in this post, but I want to encourage any of you burdened that our God knows and cares for us. May God bless each of your lives where you daily seek His presence in His word, and in prayer. Pray not only for your circumstances but let's be still and listen. For we know... OUR GOD IS ENOUGH
Most of us remember the story of Jesus telling Peter to walk on water, but as 'Pete' noticed the VERY REAL waves about him and as the seeming nonsense of walking on water began to sink in.. so did Peter.
When I was younger I thought “Oh Pete of little faith, I would have done cartwheels on the sea with my perfect faith of Jesus intact”. But now after wading around in the seas of life’s experience.. I see the waves in my life are just as real as those literal waves Peter faced 2000 years or so ago, and at best I look like Gilligan hollering for SKIPPER!..
but of course this analogy falls flat as I am not comparing the Skipper with Jesus... and I am too 'husky' to be Gilligan... BUT I DIGRESS!
So with my assessment that my faith is often at best an undersized mustard seed as I choose to get out of the boat and trust God. I may sink at times like Peter but.. the same Jesus who calmed the seas, healed the sick, fed the multitudes, walked on water, and rose from the grave is my answer to life’s figurative (but VERY REAL) waves of health, finance, family, or fear.
I could expound on this fact, as like many of you I experience seasons of waves, and tests that put my trust in God to the test.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart soul and mind and lean not unto your own understanding .. in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Pr 3:5-6
EASY WORDS to say.. DIFFICULT WORDS to comprehend just like walking on water MAKES NO SENSE.. but I choose to believe both to be true.
May God bless each of you this day in your journey. May we all learn to trust God when life is great, when life is difficult, or when all seems lost.
Trust in the Lord as your providence, Trust in the Lord as your source for answers, Trust in the Lord for blessings, and Trust in the Lord for perspective that is beyond the limits of any circumstance.. so even when the waves swell and the storms rage.. we can give the triumphant shout..
SURFS UP Blessings!
I have this prayer prep that I use when my mind is busy and unfocused. I slow my mind to take a glimpse of my place in this Universe.
Specifically, I am a speck on a blue ball (Earth) that spins at 1000 mph orbiting around our sun in our Solar System of 8 (or 9) planets, which is one of countess galaxies in our infinite Universe. ..
AND this existence.. my existence is just a microscopic blip on the timeline of .. eternity!
So while I admit I should lose like 25 (or so) pounds I also am feeling very small. Then to think of the intricacies of the human body, the human condition, that I have a free will, and I believe His spirit makes me a very special speck on this blue dot.
While I attempt to grasp this perspective of significance.. I pray Psalms 8:4 Who am I that you are mindful of me? .. and I am in awe of creation and more importantly our creator and His inexplicable love for each of us. Better yet, y'all best read all of Psalms 8
Now .. I am ready to pray as the world slows down.. I am an awe of God, and thankful for this day (even the bad ones), and pray that my life, my family, my friends, church, community, state, nation, and world come to realize the significance, purpose, and place as their own speck like roles on this blue dot.
Love God, love others and all glory to God on this day! Cuz ya know, the rest is speck on a blue ball trivia by comparison.
Jeff (Big Speck) Larson
Max Lucado wrote a book in 1994 titled ''When God whispers your name'. It is a great read with his usual humor and spiritual insights, but my question is..
What happens when God whispers my name but .. I am hard of hearing, or maybe God simply remains silent?
Not so many years ago I weathered personal hurricane force storms in back to back years. My finances, health, and spirit were challenged and I didn't know if I would survive the first year's storm only to be windblown and tattered the next year too. I have never despaired more in my life.
Let me tell you I literally cried (sobbed), and cried out to God for HELP. I wanted God to calm these storms, but my prayers were met with His resounding SILENCE.
Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Ps 10:1
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Ps 22:1-2
I admit my cries to God were not as eloquent as when David penned the above Psalms, but I shed enough literal tears to warrant flood insurance.
Side note on Crying:
When a woman cries we feel empathy as her deep emotions touch our hearts.
When a man cries it sounds like a wounded Badger caught in a trap trying to gnaw off his leg in a short sighted attempt to escape his pain. Those in ear shot want to put that badger out of his misery, and thecrying men.. STOP IT!
but I digress..
Now back to my storms..
During these stormy times I discovered God's providence/answers were found in His silence. During my storms I needed to experience the full impact of my situation including my mistakes and their circumstances.
God was with me the whole time, but pain and reflection was important for me to grow on a true path of restoration. A genie in a lamp with three hot wishes available was NOT what I needed.
Life rains on the just and the unjust Mt. 5:45, the Jeffs and the unJeffs!
We all know the story of Peter walking on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on those very real waves.. and began to sink.
Just like Peter those the very real waves in my life overwhelmed me because I did not put my trust in the man who walks on water and calms the seas.
The good news is I endured those stormy years and learned over time how faithful and loving God was and is.
The details of my storm(s) are not important except to share a lesson learned when God seems silent. “Be still, and know that He is God." Ps 46:10
Be still, be faithful, be listening, be prayerful, and peaceful even when you experience God's Resounding Silence.
Jeff (actually wearing Hearing Aids) Larson
In this world of Essentials we have ..'Essential Oils' (5 quarts of motor oil?).. the 'Essential Van Morrison' album compilation, and during this last year while in Pandemic lockdown mode our government determined/MANDATED everything else that was 'essential'.
In a disturbing twist of irony our secular society determined essential businesses were liquor stores, and Planned Parenthood while church gatherings were too 'risky' aka non-essential. In some states you could buy 'weed' to smoke (essential) but could not buy 'weed killer' (non-essential) at the local garden center.
So I ponder what if Mother Theresa lived during this covid-19 'pandemic' in my home state of Minnesota? Would her orphanage and ministering to lepers be considered risky? And how about JESUS CHRIST.. Would Jesus wear a mask (WJWM)?
My sarcasm is obvious as I bristle not over the health risks of Covid but rather our Government's mandated overreach regarding the good, bad, & ugly list of essentials, non-essentials complete with social distancing guidelines.
During the pandemic I listened to a sermon snippet from a Pastor on Facebook. His message was "be prayerful & smart in our response to Coronavirus but remember our (the church) focus is on Revival not Survival."
Societies message is temporal and 'non-essential' . note: liquor stores and planned parenthood are so very not essential, but the
Gospel message is essential and filled with lasting hope for today and tomorrow.
So now after a year of the Gospel according to 'Zoom' I see church beginning to limp forward moving away from 'safety being our God' and our spiritual diet consisting of You-Tube sermons.
And while.. Zoom and streaming has it's place for most of us being together face to face in a full church worshiping God looking to God and not to be entertained is what church is called to be.
And worshipping with masks is a muted sad expression of what God intends and sounds more like a chorus of 'Charlie Brown's teachers' than a choir of angels.
So I choose not live in fear and believe the church is essential. I pray the world soon leaves their masks behind, and the 'next' COVID-19 like panic (I predict Climate Change) does does not become a social and political wedge dividing our society and the Essential CHURCH.
May God bless and use each of you in ways that are beyond your dreams.
May you feel His protection and love that transcends the fears of men, and their politics.
May our safety, life, revival and hope be found in His Words, His church, and not in a mask or overbearing 'big-brother' government mandate. AND..
May God's Essential Church have an uncompromised revival.
Jeff ( Essential Back Pew) Larson
As a guy.. I am a TV Commercial aficionado. While I respect my wife.. when it comes to TV Commercials hands-down I have a deeper appreciation for their .. art.
Case and point is a TV commercial by AT&T where a tattoo artist tells his client he is just an ok tattoo artist but not good one. Then the concerned client questions the tattoo artist not drawing the image before inking the real tattoo.. and this 'just ok' tattoo artist tells him "Stay in your lane bro."
Funny stuff, and it makes me smile every time it pops up on TV.
Message of this commercial? Don't settle for just ok.
But of course in my mind I see a spiritual correlation in this commercial.
When I talk (aka pray) to God, I am NOT talking with a just an OK deity. I am talking with the Creator of this World. Omniscient, Omnipresent, and our perfect loving Heavenly Father.
And when I vent (aka pray) to God my busy mind swimming in a big bowl of worry. I tell God "I don't know how this is going to all work out."
And this is when God whispers to me.. "Stay in your lane bro."
ok, I paraphrased.
Unlike a 'just ok' deity our God is sovereign. He has this bowl of worries of mine along with everyone else's favorite rage and/or anxiety recipe and though mankind has again made a mess of things.. God is not caught off guard. He is not surprised, and NEWS FLASH none of this is a ripple in God's great plan.
I do want to be clear there will always be consequences for anyone and/or nation who rejects God's will, and there is pain in being a part of this world compromised by sin, but there is peace in knowing God is sovereign.
Important NEWS FLASH.. It is also important to share this life, our moment in time is not about ME or YOU. This life is about being faithful to our God in word and deed. This our lane.
So I pray..
Heavenly Father bless and use us for your glory in ways that only can be described as beyond our dreams or understanding. This is God's lane
Jeff (drifting over the center line) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson