A few years back my wife and I lived in Roseville, a suburb of St Paul MN. Nice neighborhood, easy access to highways, shopping, dining, and.. is unofficially the bunny capital of the world. Bunnies were everywhere.
These friends of Bugs (bunny) crisscrossed our yard constantly. We don't have a garden so they are harmless and cute.. I guess... but what goes on in their little minds as they scamper from here to there and back again. All this is done of course as they travel their literal bunny trails.
Then I wonder.. are there 'BAD BUNNIES'.. you know, with tattoos hanging out the street corner smoking cigs and.. sorry, I guess my mind just went on its own bunny trail.
Ok, while I am obviously NOT a bunny, but I have traveled my share of bunny trails meanderings. I even have the 'gift' of veering off topic railroading a conversation 'deftly' interjecting my thoughts that have wandered away from the original subject. How did I get here?.. and now how do I find my way back?.. I don't know, maybe I will ask a BUNNY.
Even those involved in the conversation may with a bewildered look on their face respond with .. "whaaa.. and If no bunny can be found to help me I will segue back by saying "but I digress"
Of course for the most part the literal bunny trails in my yard and the nonsensical bunny trails in my head are harmless. They may be puzzling, possibly frustrating, but seriously no harm no foul.
But what about the more serious bunny trails we take? In a world that needs Jesus we are busy with bunny trails... even Pokemon Go trails.. really?
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Js 1:27
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Mt 22:37-40 .
There you have it.. all that is important shared economically in just 5 verses, BUT..
All of the above can be definite bunny trails that have nothing to do with Js 1:27 and/or Mt 22:37-40.
I am a big fan of the 'My Utmost for His Highest' devotional by Oswald Chambers. His daily readings are amazing bits of truth that return focus to what is important. Oswald's message is that life begins and ends with a devotion to God. What we say and do matters, and stay off the bunny trails that keep us from this truth.
Another great read is 'The Pursuit of God' by AW Tozer. In this book Tozer makes clear the pursuit of God is a direct path with focus and purpose and any bunny trails are mostly found in the pursuits of man... and his folly.
My prayer is to live a life that loves God in words and deeds (Js 1:27 and Mt 22:36-40) where I give my utmost for His highest in my daily pursuit of God while keeping my bunny trails to a minimum.
My prayer today is your life's journey has focus and purpose, and that He provides hope, and direction for those of us when we find ourselves off on a bunny trail using His Word and our Prayers as our map.
Life is good, and I am blessed. I serve a great God, my wife loves me, and I am content.. most of the time.
But then.. like that (loved but not liked) relative showing up unannounced with his unruly kids to visit for the evening OR LONGER.. arrives Mr. B.A. (Bad Attitude). Recently it appear Mr. B.A. stops over with his buddy Mr. B.B. (bad back) when I prefer to be left alone.
An everyday example of a visit from Mr. B.A. is arriving at home at the end of the day greeted by our dog Cooper (a rescue dog with issues) barking at me. While Mr. B.A. has not entered my house at this point I cringe to my barking dog and see Mr. B.A. easily as I look out my front window. He is sitting in his car on the curb, he notices me, and smiles giving me a thumbs up. Arghh.
I am tired after a long day and all I want to do is relax for a few moments, so I turn on the TV and flip it to the evening news.
Top stories are the border crisis, race riots, LGBTQ is adding another letter, and in North Korea that rogue 'nut job' hopped up on Red Bull is testing Nukes again.
Meanwhile Congress is playing partisan politics russian roulette with the American public, and.. there is a 'weather' alert of a pending 'snowflake' blizzard/protest in Berkeley where frightened college students burn flags, tipping monuments, and blocking streets as part of a SJW class project?
And OBTW.. everything bad listed above I have learned is still the fault of .. DONALD TRUMP. I thought he was no longer president. GO FIGURE!
So I turn off the news and notice Mr. Bad Attitude is now out of his car walking towards my house grinning big, and pointing to my door to let him in. I cringe but for the moment I look away.
Next is dinner, And dinner is always good as my wife Mary takes good care of me. Following dinner we most always watch Wheel of Fortune. Dinner and now Wheel watching is our 1 hour reprieve from this big ol' B.A. world.
For a brief moment I pretend Mr. B.A. is gone. I imagine he is not just outside my house.
but he is.
THEN.. 'Wheel' is over and so from 7pm CST to bedtime there is rarely anything good to watch on TV but I want to be sure so I waste the next 30 minutes channel surfing and coming up with zip!
AFTER.. the channel surfing I browse the web, or then on to Social Media for the whole 'poke the bear' experience.
Social Media is a digital glut of cat videos, political judgments, and 'Christian' cries of heresy among the bretheren. This angst found in the world via Social Media is sensed by Mr. B.A. and so he makes his move.
Now it is 7:45pm, and Mr. B.A. responding to the vibe of pointless channel surfing, and web browsing let's himself in and sits in MY chair. From his newly claimed throne he is munching Flaming Hot Cheetos leaving cheeto-orange greasy finger marks on my chair, TV remote, and my computer laptop. B.A. does acknowledges me with a glance and a nod before taking control of the TV remote with his left hand a computer mouse with his right. It is Clickity, clickity, click as Cheeto dust fills the air.
I am tired, irritated, my dog growls at me because I spoke to my wife without asking his permission and Mr. B.A. is now in full control of all things electronic for the evening, and in his glory!
So I mumble/moan about another evening lost with Mr. B.A., while I sulk (loudly). Yes I sulk 'loudly'.
It is not a pretty sight... Sulking loudly is much like when men cry. It is an ugly display of emotions and not an endearing as observed by my wife Mary.
Then, there is a LIGHT BULB MOMENT.. Ya know, it does not have to be this way. There could be more to my life than you-tube videos, and Twitter suspensions. Imagine a life bigger than Big-Bang reruns or a Hollywood blockbuster/flopbuster.
Even as I type these words a Spirit inside me speaks in a still small voice.. "Well, duh." note: I am not saying this voice was the Holy Spirit as I pretty sure He does not say "Well, duh" unless these are His words after passing through my Jeff filter.
So maybe I quiet myself. Yes, I remember being quiet for an evening back in 2017.. and I liked it.
Well about 'doing quiet' again tonight? I could turn off the TV, read a book, or listen to good music.. maybe even Worship Music. Yes, I do remember I liked that. This could work!
And maybe I calm myself to PRAY.. not asking God for stuff like a child at Christmas, or to help me not be bored, but pray to know God better, to thank Him, and to pray for others.
So while I ponder being quiet I notice Mr. B.A. seems distracted, and looking uneasy. He looks at me as if to say, "hey you need to focus, the night is young, let's binge Netflix!"
But I continue to ignore B.A. and quiet myself, I pray and let my mind be amazed by our God the Creator of all things and our perfect Heavenly Father.
At this point Mr. B.A. gets up. The TV is off, the computer is in sleep mode and he is feeling ignored. His Flaming Hot Cheetos are gone except for the crumbs his beard and speckled down his Back in Black AC-DC t-shirt.
Mr. B.A. looking dejected leaves my home while muttering maybe I will see you tomorrow. I smile, but honestly I am not sure tomorrow is going to work for me. I remember that time in 2017 when I was quiet just like today and I liked it.
AND.. my wife likes me better this way as my loud sulking is not one of my endearing qualities. So it's a win win situation.
I would like to say Mr. Bad Attitude will not come to visit again, but I know better. Also my TV and computer are not bad they just symbolize the distractions and wasted times that keep me from God's peace.
May God bless those moments of quiet and purpose found in His word, prayer that are rarely found in front of a HD big screen TV.
May He bless each of you with joy and purpose found in a life long pursuit of Him in the quiet.
May your attitudes be good, your hearts always thankful, and no loud-sulking please.
Jeff ( attitude adjusted ) Larson
To sum up 2021 (IMO) our tumultuous society seems to disagree (often passionately) on most everything from politics, gender identity, LGBTQ, race issues, diets, and sports. At the core of much of this turmoil is a spiritual angst of global proportions.
BUT even if IF if we could agree there is a spiritual component, society does not agree on what we mean by spiritual. Islam, Christianity, New Age, or seek deeper meaning as a Buddhist, or a Hindu?
AND even as Christians I need to ask what 'faith flavor' are you? Could be Catholic, Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Prosperity Gospel believer, the ever popular 'non-denominational', OR maybe your faith is motivated by a Progressive / SJW focus.
AND let's not forget that fella who likes to handle snakes. Yikes!
So this is what I believe which is important to ME. What do you believe? What is God teaching you about truth? Does what I believe and/or what you believe fall in line with God's Truth?
and.. I believe it is important for everyone to pursue their own serious 'NICE TRY' understanding and appreciation of God. This is not an issue anyone should put on the back burner of life.
We owe God at the very least to make a NICE TRY... and for eternity's sake we owe ourselves.
May God bless each of you today with peace, and the Holy Spirit's leading us to truth and answers for all of life's questions, and to a place where we feel God's love and peace like never before.
We should not expect to get it all right, but there still is no greater pursuit for mankind than to know Him.
My heart says of you, “Seek His face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Jeff (Trying to be Nice) Larson
Of course we all know the Ten Commandments Moses brought down from the mountain.
These Commandments if obeyed would solve most if not ALL of societies Ills.
Paraphrased loosely 1. worship only God, 2. no idols, 3. don't take God's name in vain, 4. honor the Lord's day, 5.respect mom & dad, and.. 6-10. don't kill, commit adultery, steal, curse, tell lies, or covet.
These 10 Commandments are simple but profound directions from God to honor our creator and play well with others. Why would anyone disagree the 10 Commandments?.. unless of course you are the ACLU.
Now while I would never command anyone except my dog (though he does not always listen) I have opinions on everything and so I would like to add a few suggestions.
These suggestions are not delivered on stone tablets, but instead on this one digital blog via the web.. cuz stone tablets would cost too much in shipping charges.
But I digress..
BEHOLD... The Five Suggestions -
There you have it.. Five Suggestions that while they pale in comparison to the Ten Commandments you must admit.. but hey I'm Jeff not Moses so it's the best I can do.
May God bless your day with God's Truth, and obedience of His loving commandments.. and while you may not listen to my 5 suggestions.. at least you guys listen to your wife when she says you are not going out in public looking like that.
Jeff (out of suggestions) Larson
The teachings especially in the New Testament are full of figures of speech that if taken literally would be reason for a great deal of angst in our lives. Here are just a few.
But thankfully these are much more than figures of speech for those who place their hope in God. These are words holding important life changing/saving truths.
Finally let me leave you with a phrase I don't think can be found in our Bibles. This phrase is maybe not a figure of speech, but words that also have a double meaning when they are wielded together.
When the dreaded 'Fine, Whatever' combination is muttered by a wife.. well it is anything but FINE, and WHATEVER is the last thing you should consider.
May God bless your day with clarity, with purpose, a strong understanding of God's word, and nary a FINE, WHATEVER mentioned to you husbands.
I was 'praying anxiously' the other day. Of course praying anxiously is an oxymoron bigger than a skinny baptist preacher.. BUT God reminded me I am called to be FAITHFUL IN the moments that make up my day not FAITHFUL FOR a moment in my day.
I guess this is obvious to everyone else, BUT for me it was an epiphany.. and my calling.
I should not longer worry about being recognized as the Farside of Christian cartoonists (lol, in my dreams).. but instead focus on being Faithful in Word and Deed in what every day presents to me.
Faithful is not just when everyone is watching. We are called to be faithful to God in words, emotions, deeds, and our thoughts.
May the Lord find us all faithful in big and small ways including every nook and cranny of that makes up our days.
Jeff (work in progress) Larson
How does my resume look? Am I qualified? Can God really use a NOBODY with nothing to offer? What if my self-esteem is in the DIRT of my Monday - Friday RUT where my abilities and influence never seem to make a difference for God.
Oh sure I attend church most every Sunday, and my wife and I even host a Small Group bible study every other Sunday night.. but what difference does any of that make? Who am I? Hi, my name is Jeff and I am NOBODY.
Then I reflect back over my years in the work place. I have traveled on a seemingly random career path. As a young man I worked as a logger in rural Wisconsin, then moved to the big city where I was a computer programmer/analyst, and not so many years ago I was the owner/manager of a sports officials management business.
After selling my sports officiating biz overal several years I coasted into early retirement while driving school bus part time on the side. I find officiating sports and officiating school kids on a big yellow bus are very similar.
Side note: There was one summer while between jobs I was a PAPER BOY (for God?) delivering the daily newspaper.
All while through my years in the work force I have continued my hobby/passion of cartooning..finding out it is not a successful 'get rich quick' scheme or a cash cow though I better known for my cartoons than I am for any of my proffessional accomplishments.
Then to further feed this 'I AM NOBODY' theme there was a time when I received an actual letter in my mailbox declaring my 'nobodyness'. Well, actually worse than nobody.. the letter said I was DEAD. This letter was from my bank addressed to Jeffrey DEAD Larson instead of Jeffrey DEAN Larson.
I am not sure if that was a typo or a snarky comment on my personal credit so I did quick check my pulse, and good news.. I was not dead.
Good News? I am not dead. Bad News? I am nobody!
So I turn to God's word for encouragement and inspiration in hopes to find a glimmer of hope that I am not a NOBODY, but rather a somebody. I was quickly reminded of great Bible nobodys turned to somebodys
By God using these very flawed men to serve him in great ways it demonstrates it has always about God's message and not the messenger.... so maybe there is hope for a NOBODY like me.
NOBODY(s) for JESUS.. sounds more like a label for a Christian support group than a battle cry to serve God. Can't you hear our Battle Cry?
Who are we? nobody.
The mighty mighty.. Nobodys?
Who am I without God anyways? BUT an equally good question is.. WHO AM I WITH GOD? What is possible?
This is not to say God will use me to part any Red Seas, raise any dead, or become the Billy Graham of Christian cartoons, .. but
I believe if I am willing, God will bless and use me in ways that are beyond what I could dream.
The one thing I am daily reminded is.. this life is not about me. It is about loving God with all my heart soul and mind and caring for others. To be faithful in the moments presented to me each day and then God can and will use me in little subtle ways for sure, and who knows maybe in big ways. I am sure there is a sea that needs parting somewhere.
May God bless and use each of you as you are faithful to HIm in ways that are always beyond our dreams and all that God intends.
Have a great day. Smile lots.. and enjoy life!
Jeff (NOBODY) Larson
Not so long ago there was a GEICO commercial featuring a Sumo figure skater with the tag line "Sumo Wrestler figure skating? Surprising! What's not surprising is what you can save on car insurance by switching to GEICO."
This is the kind of kind of absurd humor my Back Pew mind can appreciate and has inspired a few GEICO-esque cartoons
"Heavy Metal Yodeling?" Surprising. What's not surprising? How much money you could save by switching to GEICO."
I am still waiting for GEICO to call me back on this 'creative' concept, but so far..
'I hear crickets'.
So then I take a look at my collection of cartoons and found very quickly three more Heavy Metal cartoons. They are...
I believe with these cartoons I have demonstrated a GEICO like absurdity that I embrace. AND.. I believe there is very little if any spiritual message from these toons, but..
I will give it a try.
Heavy Metal Yodeling, Polka, Sunday School with Ozzy Ozbornagain .. surprising!
what's not surprising is God's Amazing Grace covers all our sins.
It's not surprising because we are loved with the perfect love of our Heavenly Father.
Ok, it's maybe not GIECO material, but the John 3:16 promise of Salvation beats the best of insurance plans.
So I pray today that each of you experience God's Amazing Grace, the promise of His presence in your lives today, and the promise of Heaven in your future.
Jeff (surprised often) Larson
God's Spirit moving in me is more than my conscience making me feel guilty about late night snacking.. and of this I AM GUILITY.
The Spirit of God leads, the Spirit intercedes. Yea, though I walk through the Valley of Death I will fear no evil, for your Spirit is with me. Psalms 23
I believe the Spirit is that tug on my heart, the gentle unspoken word convicting me of my sins that is truly a gentle touch on my soul.
The Spirit of God indwells in my being when and where I make room for Him.
The Spirit of God will not share my heart with unclean thoughts, and sinful ways like Felix and Oscar from Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. So make room for God's Spirit and to be led by Him.
Savor time spent quiet and alone with the very Holy Spirit of God.
Pray for clarity of mind and spirit, and strength in times of pain and discouragement.
Seek God's Spirit in your life daily, and without exception.
And.. do not grieve God's Spirit with sinful compromise in thoughts, desires, and/or actions.
Pray to hear His words impressed on your very soul, and Lord find us obedient to the promptings of your Spirit, and
Empower us when we are weak for your Glory.
And then truly.. I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
Jeff (quiet in spirit for a change) Larson
Render.. to provide or give (a service, help, etc.).
In the days of Jesus, the Roman Empire was the most ruthless political, social, and military power in the land. Their motto.. DON'T MESS WITH ROME, it won't end well.
The religious power at this time was in the clutches of those disapproving rigid rule keepers extra ordinaires.. The Pharisees enjoyed heaping frustrating layers of tedious legalism on top of God's simple, beautiful loving truths. Matthew 23:24
Then along comes Jesus sharing the perfect Gospel message of love and hope. John 10:10
On one day the religious leaders ask Jesus a trick question to trap Jesus with his answer. "Teacher, should we pay taxes to Caesar?".. Jesus replied "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Matthew 22:20-22 This was the original drop the mic moment before there were mics.
Meanwhile today in America our government is becoming a 'big brother' political & social power propped up by the main stream & social media. Their motto.. DON'T MESS WITH BIG BROTHER.. just like Rome, it won't end well.
Today's religious powers are a blend of world religions and the progressive 'Church' movement. They promote a collective faith (a higher power). They do not consider Christian Bible is not considered inerrant, and the beautiful truths on life it's pages are revised or redacted to fit their 'tolerant and evolved versions' of truth.
Then along comes the True Church sharing the perfect Gospel message of love and hope. Mark 16:15
So if we are asked a loaded question like.. "Who do you obey?.. Reply.. "Render unto America what is due, but give to God what is God's. Then.. drop the mic.
This blog message was born out of conversations with my wonderful wife Mary. Our country now has a new president and while some are excited America is headed in a new direction, others are very concerned.
Make no mistake there will be big changes, BUT.. no matter which side you are on remember the true message of Hope is in the Gospel message and not in American politics. No need to confuse love for country with love for God, and no need to become confused where our hope lies. It is in Jesus.
It is eternally more important to get the Gospel message right, than to get the tax code right.
May God bless each of you to stay true to the course of the Gospel message and place your hope and purpose in the Gospel message.
Jeff (Secretary of Crayons in the new Biden Administration) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson