I love my God, but during Sunday morning worship let's just say I am not GIFTED .. Please don't ask to me sing, clap, and chew gum at the same time. Our church is big enough that you would not be 'blessed' by hearing my mediocre voice... My lack of a sense of rhythm is concealed well because as I now raise my hands during worship in a low key manner which minimizes my ability to clap along with any song. I mean to say.. We are PROTESTANTS not PENTECOSTALS!
note: I am neither making fun of Protestants or Pentecostals here.. I am making fun of ME.. BUT I DIGRESS
But my Bull in a China 'Worship' Shop stylings is NOT my topic for today. The Bull I speak of exists in what I may say, or tweet, or maybe a facebook post. I have the ability to undermine the Gospel message with blunt, biting, and sometimes sarcastic words. AND if the person I am talking with or the group I disagree with I feel disrespects me.. my button gets pushed. This button must be pretty easy to spot and has hair trigger switch.
Like usual my disclaimer is .. I am not a bad guy, BUT sharp, and sarcastic words compounded by a frustrated spirit is NOT a fruit of God's Spirit. WHO KNEW?
The Fruit of God's Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, and self control to name a few. Well with this as my measuring stick I stand before you all blurting in my daily email A WITHERED TREE.
So back to being a BULL.. how do I stop myself from breaking life? How do I return to being peaceful? I think one of problems is though I break a few things and hurt a few feelings to those close to me,, the bigger damage I often do is crashing around inside my head hurting myself with feelings of failure.. and not allowing for God's Grace to heal me.
All I can do is pick up the pieces and not try to superglue them back together, but make them a matter of prayer. Ask forgiveness from those who I may have injured, and pray for God to intervene in my heart and mind, and a soul to where my bull like manners become peaceful. You know, that Peace that passes all understanding.
I don't want today's words to be a downer to any of you BULLS. I pray you will encourage any of you who struggle in your BULL-ish moments to regroup, and return to God where peace is waiting.
May God bless, lead and use each of us today DESPITE our frailties, insecurities, frustrations, limitations, and.. lead us through this faith journey without breaking the good China. AND if we do break anything, God's grace is bigger than superglue.
hmmm.. I think that should be on a Hallmark Card.
Jeff (Bullish in the Back Pew) Larson
PS.. a very big PS: Sharing the Gospel message can be another Bull in the China Shop moment. Not everyone has the gift of evangelism, but we ALL should pray for opportunities to share.
Pray to be used by God to share His light in this dark world. Through conversational testimony found in our words and actions the seeds are planted in those who at this point do not know Jesus. Whether we plant or sow we are all part of God's plan.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Cor. 3:7
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
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 afraid 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 concerning trend in church becoming a Sunday social club where we go to be fed/entertained every week but never go deep. 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 home (eternal existence) in between for being a pretty good person.
Genesis 1 - In the beginning, God spoke the universe into existence. Some of those present claimed they heard a loud crackling sound like thunder, but most simply described it as sort of a.. BANG.. actually a BIG BANG!
At this point let me be clear, I am not here to discuss Old Earth v New Earth theories. This would be above the pay grade of this cartoonist, but what I will say is .. God created and it was GOOD!
Genesis 1:1-31 To summarize, this daunting project was completed in 6 days where Day 1: DAY , NIGHT , the SKY were spoke into existence by our Almighty Creator.
Genesis 2:1-3 Then on the 7th day God rested. In contrast I installed a bathroom floor in our town-home recently and I rested on the 5th, 6th, and 7th days and while it turned out nice it was not Hubble Telescope spectacular like God's Universe.
Those first 6 days His creation included the sun, stars, land, waters, and all the creatures in the sea and on land were created.
To rule over the lands and seas God created MAN Genesis 2:7 in His own image from the dust of the Earth followed by creating WOMAN from man's 'spare rib' declaring it is not good for man to be alone. Genesis 2:18
To which Adam declared.. "Hey beautiful, where have you been all my life?"
Then God commanded Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply".. to which Adam quickly started working on his times tables.
This creation story is all recorded into the Bible book of Genesis. While many Cosmologists believe the Big Bang was the creation of EVERYTHING from NOTHING followed by billions of years of random collisions and explosions resulted in our ever expanding universe, all the planets including Earth including life with all it's complexities.
Ok, I believe you can collide a chocolate bar with a jar of peanut butter and end up with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.. but this Universe has too moving parts + complexities that are bound together with rules and order for me to believe EVERYTHING came from NOTHING.
So I choose to believe there must be an intelligent design behind creation. For me, I believe in a divine creator that exists outside the confines of time and space. I believe this Intelligent Design is described in the Bible Book of Genesis.
May God bless each of you greatly in your pursuit of truth. This is important stuff, and a foundation for life. If there is a God then the pursuit of Him is a greater science than can be found looking through any microscope or telescope. Bigger than Star Trek's five year journey exploring the stars.
Jeff (little bang) Larson
I confess #IHATEHASHTAGS is not the most endearing blog title, but my purpose is to focus on a Biblical response to the glut of #movements in our VERY SECULAR society.
This messy world is inundated with Virtue Signalling / Social Justice Crusaders all whipped up into a frenzy by the media and social media with images, sound bites, tweets, etc, which often lack context promoting 'feelings' over 'facts', agendas over truth. Collectively I will label these the dreaded #SJWCRUSADES (social justice warrior crusades).
These #SJWCRUSADES exist in a land where everyone is a victim, and/or bullied into a fragile 'snowflake' condition barely able to function. Their victim status paralysis is someone else fault when 'feelings are hurt', and/or they were made to 'feel uncomfortable' which is considered an 'act of violence' against them. Who is to blame? Mostly, Men.. more specifically WHITE MEN. And the luck of the draw, I was born a white male have continued that status for my entire life. So.. sorry? I guess for something I did or didn't do inherently because I am white? and male?
Important note: I am not insensitive to injustice, but am concerned with a #SJWCRUSADE response to injustice, and where they place hope. For me, I would like to place my hope in the following Bible Basics..
Getting back to the (Bible) Basics..
Welcome to the #SJWCRUSADE Jungle..
#metoo, #churchtoo, #BLM, #believewomen, #toxicmasculinity, #whiteprivelege, #woke, #lgbtq, #prochoice, #abortionisawomansright, #impeach45, etc etc.
In most of these movements GUILT, MOTIVES, and PRIVILEGE are assumed.. and terms like INTERSECTIONALITY are spewed out (yes spewed). But honestly most #SJWCRUSADES add nothing to justice not already covered by God's Word and common sense, and #SJWCRUSADES often have their own agenda that perverts truth.
So with this in mind, onward and forward to societies #SJWCRUSADES parade of Injustices.
1. Respect Women (#believewomen, #metoo, #churchtoo, #toxicmasculinity)
I believe all these #SJWCRUSADES have hijacked/injured truth where guilt is assumed (and very public) because we must #believewomen. After all.. Why would a woman lie? A. Because for women, just like men Romans 3:23 applies.
Slavery, racism, and discrimination based on the color of your skin is foolish sin. Please note, when the Bible speaks of slavery it was a different culture and the meaning of the term slave was very different from what it means today. The Bible never condoned slavery as we think of it today, or any bias against anyone based on the color of their skin.
3. Abortion (#prochoice??, #abortionisawomansright)
There are ZERO valid arguments for abortion. Science and common sense tell us the unborn child is a beautiful human life and to be #prochoice is at it's heart a deception of truth or worse. There is a beating heart, there is the developing body of the unborn child. The birth canal is not the arbiter of life... conception is. And abortion needs to be seen for what it is.. the ending of this life by violent methods.
4. LGBTQ & Gender Issues (#lgbtq)
It matters what we Christians believe on these issues. Of course Christians should respect, appreciate, and love those who are LGBTQ, But.. we should not turn a blind eye to ANY sinful sexual lifestyle from infidelity, porn, adultery, and including LBTQ issues where the scriptures are so clear.
Again, The pursuit of Justice and Truth are biblical. Justice where we are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and where a just punishment is delivered to the truly guilty.
Though I am sure I have ruffled feathers of some of you. My point in blogging this is God's Word is perfect and loving truth and justice for all and #SJWCRUSADES are too often misguided 'very secular' tools with man made agendas.
My prayer is for God's people to know and obey His unchanging truths. Be wary of any Trojan Horse Crusade that claims to seek justice, but have hidden agendas that may not include truth. May God bless each of you with peace and perspective that is from Him and is totally #FREE.
Jeff ( I like hashbrowns not hashtags) Larson
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
While I do not believe in any monkey ancestry kind of evolution I do believe life certainly evolves.
Let me share 'my' scientific findings from my exhaustive study here at the Back Pew Institute for Common Sense.
Don't roll your eyes at me.. this is SCIENCE!
Exhibit A (Valentines Day)
THEN: On February 14, 1984 I bought my wife an engagement ring, flowers and proposed marriage. Good news for me Mary was very excited about spending the rest of her life with ME! Til death do us part.. thank you very much.
NOW: On February 13th 2016 my wife informed me she was going to pick up some flowers for my 86 year old mom for Valentines Day. I replied "Great, and while you're at it, pick up something nice for yourself from me.. cuz I like ya."
Exhibit B (Romance)
THEN: Mary and I were married in August 1984. The newlywed excitement of starting our lives together, holding hands, the excitement of the kiss, and all the other 'fringe benefits' of being married were truly wonderful.
NOW: Just the few years ago I remember trying to kiss my wife Mary on the lips before I headed out the door to work. But she turned her head at the last moment offering me only to her cheek to kiss. So I said to my bride "I noticed you turned away", and she replied matter of factly.. "yes I did not want you to wreck my lips." Wreck her lips? I was her husband wanting a simple kiss, not a zombie wanting to eat her lips.
Exhibit C (Sports)
THEN: March Madness Year 1 was a simple game where dunking was not possible as the hunched over Neanderthal players had little to no vertical jump compounded by using a ball which technically was a medium sized boulder.
NOW: The game now is fast, the players tall and athletic, the action is high flying, and the courts are free of dinosaur droppings.
Exhibit D (Me)
THEN: When I was a kid I could spend hours drawing cartoons.
NOW: Hmmm, never mind that is still what I like to do.
Exhibits E-Z (God)
THEN & NOW: Outside of all the above 'scientific' examples of evolution and in the spiritual realm let's be clear.. our God does not evolve nor does He need to. God is timeless, and so are his truths.
Our growingly secular society has chosen to travel down a progressive road of self-enlightenment at 90mph in a Woodstock like hippy van mind set while smoking doobies. While believing they are evolving, they are in fact de-volving.
Ironically this secular world judges Christians as judgmental, and God's timeless loving truths (The Bible) as outdated needing to be tweaked.. BUT.. in reality truth is ONLY found in our 'never-needing-to-evolve God'. His perfect love and grace are our hope, and He is the solid rock we can count on. Please share this often with this ever changing/evolving tumultuous doubting world.
Jeff (Mr. Science) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson