Think about it.. Our Heavenly Father, creator of Heavens and Earth is our personal God, and He forgives our sins and remembers them no more. We are Forgiven, and He is Forgiving. I like how this whole forgiven thing works out for me.
Now I am pretty forgiving kinda guy when it comes to family member, and my friends. I even forgive my dog.. most of the time. BUT THEN as obvious as a rogue adult acne is on my 60 year old nose is the truth, I AM NOT always so forgiving for those who wrong me and are not in my inner circle of friends... especially those who don't want forgiveness, and/or don't even like me. DON'T LIKE ME? I am aghast!
Truth be told I have one particular incident that I have a hard time letting go.. as my employer let me go.
It was January 2018 when I was working in a job that I did not enjoy, and I did not appreciate or respect my manager and supervisor. So much was wrong at this company (IMO), with ongoing management and respect issues all the way up to the day I was terminated.
Well let's just I was more than a bit indignant about being let go. My disdain for my former employer peaked to the point where when I was letting my mind spin until (embarrassing to admit) I would imagine a paraphrase of Psalms for my former employer. No not the Psalms 23 kind of Psalms, though I thought my existence was in the Valley of the Shadow of my former employer. Instead. More of a Psalms 18:37-42. (please insert 'former employer' everywhere this Psalm refers to enemy)
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
38 I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. 39 You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. 40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. 41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them. --- to the Lord, but he did not answer. 42 I beat them as fine as windblown dust; I trampled them like mud in the streets.
Ok, I exaggerate a bit, but I know I was far from forgiving about my termination. I needed to let it go, and truly forgive. No I don't get to destroy them, beat them into fine dust, or trample them. I mean good grief I lost a job ( I did not like), they did not raid and pillage my townhome.
So the moral of the story is.. The older I get, the more lessons I get to learn. Lucky me! Forgiven by God is priceless, and forgiving of others pretty close to priceless too. I don't know if I can completely realize forgivness without being forgiving too. Anger and indignation (righteous or not) does not look pretty on any of us, especially those of us who have been forgiven much.
May God bless each of you today with the realization of God's Grace and forgivness, and fill your hearts with forgiveness for others.
Jeff (praying 'good' Psalms at ya) Larson
Ok, in my case .. life imitates a cartoon
In early December here in Minnesota it rained, followed by 6" of snow, and finally freezing cold temps. You don't have to ask Bill Nye the Science Guy to know our streets were glare ice. This inspired me to sketch a cartoon called 'Dog Walking in a Winter Wonderland' featuring some poor guy who ended up on his back with his dog looking at his master wondering 'why are you laying down',, and watch out for the doggie doo under you'
This cartoon was left unfinished until a new winter recipe like the one in December. Warm (above freezing) temps where the snow was melting, add a dash of misty rain, then let mixture set for 8 hours with temps again BELOW zero... and viola' Minnesota streets, sidewalks, and steps were a glistening ice rink again.
So I step outside (without my ice skates) to walk my dog Cooper slipped on the front steps, fell on my back on the front steps with the brunt of the fall was my ribcage on my right side. I lay there in pain for several minutes while Cooper gave me that dog look I mentioned above.
So here where life imitates art/cartoon with Your classic bad news good news scenario. Bad news is I have bruised and/or cracked ribs, but the good news is I did not land in any dog doo-doo.
How about that well meaning resolution to read through your Bible in the upcoming year. You start out great with Genesis in the morning, a Psalm or Proverb at midday, and the Gospel of Matthew in the evening. You are enjoying God's word as He speaks truth into your life even in passages you have read before.
Word of God speak, won't you fall down like rain, washing my eyes to see your majesty - Mercy Me lyrics
.. and then comes LEVITICUS.. with laws that are difficult to comprehend in our modern world.
Chapter 11 includes a dietplan of sorts.. Don't eat bats, rats, vultures, weasels, storks, and many more items I was NOT thinking about eating to begin with.
Chapter 18 we are set down to have the sex talk... Leviticus style. When a man loves a woman she better not be your aunt, half sister, daughter in law, sister in law, daughter, granddaughter, sister in law, a woman having her period, neighbors wife, and.. no gay sex, or sex with an animal. While all these sex no-nos I agree with, I have to say these were no areas of temptation in my life. Maybe in Hollywood, but not in my Minnesota suburb.
So if you are reading through your Bible this year. I did it last year and highly recommend it.. know that Leviticus is coming, Deuteronomy is also a hoot (insert eye roll here), along with the begats in 1 Chronicles, BUT these are just part of the complete Bible story.
Don't worry, when you get to Heaven God will not quiz you on your understanding of Leviticus. But there is great value in the Bible as a whole and each book has it's purpose and I believe is the very word and power of God.
What our God does desire is for us to be faithful in our walk with Him. The path may not be easy some days, and maybe icey. But we do have God's word as a lamp unto our feet. God bless you all on this journey.. STAY IN THE LIGHT, and be careful not to step in the Devil's doo-doo.
Jeff (hurts when I breath) Larson
The Wow Factor, I would paraphrase as an experience and/or observation that grabs your attention and holds it.. big time.
When I was young I was a decent athlete, and fell in love with sports. The speed, power, finesse, strategy, and teamwork of great athletes and teams playing to win the game.
The thrill of victory and agony of defeat was the catch phrase for the old Wild World of Sports show, and this all makes me go.. WOW!
It also goes without saying (though I am saying it) I love Art. Ok, not true art.. I love cartoons, and have doodled cartoons ever since age five.
You will never catch me wandering into an art gallery pondering the works of Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, or Leonardo de Vinci, BUT.. I save my WOWs for Gary Larson - The FarSide, Berke Breathed - Bloom County, Bill Watterson - Calvin & Hobbes, and Jim Unger - Herman.
In fact one of my favorite Christmas presents of all time my wife bought me The Complete Farside collection (3 volumes) in hardcover. For most folks this is a waste of time and $$, but for me.. WOW!
Others are enthralled by the world of beautiful music. Personally I enjoy listening to music ranging from Jazz to Rock & Roll, Hymns to modern Worship.
But.. I don't sing so good, can't clap my hands to a beat, or even play a Kazoo. Music is that Wow for many.. but for me I am sorry but I am checking my TV for a game while drawing Back Pew cartoons.
Now as we travel further from the center of my universe we find many looking up at the night sky mesmerized by the stars while our planet orbits around a blazing ball of burning gas and realizing we are only one planet in one galaxy in an ever expanding universe all with order and functioning with more science and math that you could shake a stick at (real old saying that means ALOT) .. and the collective scientific community responds in one voice.. WOW! <-- note this was an 83 word runon sentence.
Did I choose your WOW tirgger? Well no matter if it is science, music, art, sports, or watching the Wheel of Fortune ( big fan of the wheel) realize all WOWs come from our creator. Our Wow moments are real and there is no need to apologize for shouting wow (unless you are in church, or during a funeral).. BUT step out further to realize our God is the source of all things WOW.
If we don't we miss the point of this big ol' Beautiful world. Life is not about me, life is not about my passions and hobbies.. LIFE IS ABOUT OUR GOD, and the worship and adoration he deserves.
How great is our God! WOW!
Thank you God for your amazing creation that is your handiwork, and thank you for your love and grace in this life, and the promise of eternity with you our wonderful creator.
I have just changed jobs AGAIN. After 5 months working a job as a delivery driver of meals to senior citizens and others in financial, physical, and/or other needs I am now riding a bus to downtown Saint Paul, Mn to an office job providing customer service for life insurance policies.
I was not looking for a new job, and was thankful for the opportunity to serve others as hands and feet of Jesus Christ for those in need. As a driver I met many wonderful people, and was touched by the spirit of many of my clients. Other clients were just existing as you could see on their faces the weight of their situation. Poverty, sickness, mental and/or emotional challenges that were heavy loads.
But.. this new opportunity came along where I would return to an comfy office environment with predictable hours working with clients to answer their insurance policy questions.
This new job pays signifcantly more money, and would not require the physical demands on my body, nor the driving 250 miles in a day delivering meals to 50+ clients this winter where weather in Minnesota is unpredictable and the country roads are snow & ice.
I did pray about my decision of course with my wife, and considered the pros and cons, and decided to take this new job supporting life insurance products. I am actually typing this blog while riding the express bus (limited stops) to my employers downtown St Paul office.
So here comes the FEAR. While I am in good health, I am 61, wear bi-focals and hearing aides, and with zero experience with life insurance.
I am in a 6 week training class with mostly millenials to learn a solid understanding of our insurance services, and I AM MORE THAN SLIGHTLY CHALLENGED. I am learning, but I started this class about a week and a half after the rest of my group, but if I was swimming I would be dog paddling my fastest to keep up with a room full of Olympic Swimmers. I think I have swallowed half the pool.
So my doubts kick in.. I second guess myself (for the millionth time), go home regroup, talk with my wife and pray. I am thankful to God for this opportunity, but in my glaringly flawed humanity .. I have doubts. Feelings of being old, and unable to learn.. so go home regroup, talke with my wife and pray, and then pray some more. I pray for an attitude of trust in God, and for an ability to learn, and listen, and an attitude that is positive even when the going is tough.
It is unfortunate at age 61 I am 'occupationally challenged' where over the last few years I have hopped between a number of jobs. Not blaming anyone except myself and/or circumstances, but it still a reality and a regret. I look forward to retiring, but not sure when that will make sense.. but I know at this moment in time I need to work hard, be Christlike in my attitude and efforts.
I don't live my life now while focused on what is in my rear view mirror.
I share all this because I don't think I am alone. Many if not most of us face challenges that we did not sign up for. Our individual situations and/or challenges may be our own doing, or out of our control. It could be a diagnosis that compromises your life. It could be a lost job that was or was not your fault. Maybe problems in your marriage or with your children or grandchildren that break your heart. Maybe the issue is a vice/addiction. So we become afraid.
Through all this I share because I do trust God to be the answer in my life. I believe He is loving, and NOT indifferent to any of our situations.
From Job to the Prodigal Son God was faithful and caring. Look through the Gospels and read Jesus teachings, and look at his examples where He listened, wept, He healed, and He was truthful love, and even on the cross he promised paradise to the theif on the cross next to him.
What a blessing it is to serve our loving God. The creator of the Universe is intimately interested in each us and our fears.
I pray God's blessings and providence for his church today, and for a lost world that needs to know our loving Savior.
Jeff (bus ridin') Larson
Note: One day after writing this blog was a particularly tough day. The fears and doubts were back, but at the end of the day while feeling discouraged I prayed and extremely simple prayer.. HELP ME! The sky did not open up and God's spirit descend on me like a dove, but after a good night's sleep and a weekend ahead of me.. I am ready to go again. God is with me.. and I can do all things (even a new job) through Christ who strengthens me.
I have a growing concern for the American Church that we find ourselves caught between THE ROCK and a HARD WORLD.
This world claims Christians are mostly judgmental hypocrites. Weak minded, Insensitive, pious hymn singers who naivly believe in Noah's Ark and other fairy tales. And they LOL believe the Bible is the inherrent word of God.
In response we claim our ROCK is Jesus... and sing 'A Mighty Fortress is our God', but our knees shake as we become instrospective through the world's judging lens instead of God's loving truth.
We apologize and/or hide our views when God's unchanging truths do not fit nicely with our secular humanistic society. We go mostly silent as not to stir the anti-Christian hornet's nest world view. We don't like people to call us names.. who would. So we become like a deer caught in society's pious headlights and honking horns.
This HARD WORLD has a compromised view of life equally cynical of Christians and mocking of our God.
I believe A.W. Tozer once said "The Church is more afraid of offending the world than offending God". I believe that is true.
So the choice is ours. Serve God or appease man. Stand up for God's Truth or attend a Sunday Social club we call church and live our lives as Christians in name only.
Only one life 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last. - Charles Studd
There I go again.. another not funny blog by a cartoonist. Next time I promise to write about the plight of unicorns who did not RSVP to Noah.
Truth is all is not lost... not in the Church, not in the world. God cares deeply both for his church and for a world that does not know him. This is our opportunity to make a difference not just attending church but being involved as best we can where we can.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col 3:17
Oh we will stumble but get back up again where Jesus is our Rock while living in this Hard World.
I pray as always His church (we the people) turn daily to God, seek Him first,.. love HIm with our lives, serve Him in all that we do, and love and care others like Jesus did. May God find us all faithful. May He bless and use us all in ways that are beyond our dreams and for His Glory only.
ps, another quick Tozer post that was a good barameter for me to pay attention to.
“Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most;
2. What we think about most;
3. How we use our money;
4. What we do with our leisure time;
5. The company we enjoy;
6. Who and what we admire;
7. What we laugh at.”
― A. W. Tozer
In the process of Photoshop retouching my past cartoons I came across one featuring this important scripture.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
With this great scripture in mind, I feel sometimes like I am serving 60 years to life in the Alcatraz of my Mind. To often I find instead of holding every thought captive obedient to Christ I have become become captive to my thoughts. I become a walking talking Abbott & Costello comedy skit where I end up on the wrong side of the county jail bars of my mind.
In these times my weary brain becomes lost in the tasks of another anxious day living in this very broken spinning out of control world leaves me frazzled, weary, and downright .. pouty. Now pouty may be cute when it is my 4 year old granddaughter, but when it is 61 year old ME.. just ask my wife Mary, it's not cute.
So what do I do? I read aloud again 2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
This will be my life long process of returning to this scripture truth when my anxious, jealous, lazy, angry, compromised etc etc thoughts occupy the podium in my brain. Christ is my answer.. He is my hope. So here ya go Jesus.. THANKS!
May God bless each of you this day where God's perfect Truth & Love is the answer when your thoughts are have you locked in the cell next to mine on the Alcatraz of your Mind.
I am one of those folks who likes my food ever so slightly overcooked. I like the cheese on my pizza to be golden.. maybe even a 'dark' golden. I like my bagel toasted dark contrasted with a spread of cream cheese. I want it to hear a slight CRUNCH when I bite into it. And I like DUSK where the sun has just dropped peacefully below the western horizon but before the black of night,
Of course choosing dark over light in the weighty matters of bagals and pizza is fine, but in matters of the SPIRIT.. always choose the LIGHT.
This Present Darkness is a Christian novel by Frank Paretti published in 1986 for adults showing a contemporary view on angels, demons, prayer, and spiritual warfare as demons and angels interact and struggle for control in our lives and communities. And though this book was fiction, I believe this battle is real.
Of course there is obvious DARKNESS of this world, but I am surprised by many Churches Frog in the Boiling Pot perspective on life where God is fit into societal norms rather than the other way around as God intends.
"In God We Trust" may be the official motto of the United States of America, but in this world's shadows we move closer to a Godless reality found in Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
How else can explain our society where
Some items from this list of our world's woes are pitch black dark, but all of them lurk in this land of shadows where Wrong is considered a gray area defined by man rather than God.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21
So these very words of Jesus make it clear.. It matters what we believe, our choices matter. JESUS WAS NOT TALKIN' TOAST.
So I prayer God finds us IN THE LIGHT, living in obedience to His word, loving and truthful in our words and deeds with others, and never lingering in this world's shadows.
Enjoy this life in the LIGHT.
Jeff (dark toast please) Larson
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil 4:5-7
I live in America where moderation is not the modus operandi. We like big, and more, and we supersize whenever possible. Too much for us often is not enough.
I am not saying having nice home, car, etc are bad things at all, but modesty and moderation does not come easy to Americans. IMO
But what if we temper our lives with those 3 verses in Philippians. What if we were known for our moderation, prayerful, and thankful to our God? Then the peace of God that does pass all understanding is there for each of us no matter if we are living check to check or encumbered with the trappings of wealth.
Be poor in Spirit (humble) Mt. 5:3 , faithful to our God and caring of others in the moments that make up your day. Then this whole moderation concept should take care of itself.
May God lead, use, and bless your lives in ways that are beyond your dreams.
2018 has started out with many challenges/opportunities for my life.
So sometimes.. like the children of Israel in Exodus.. I want to go back to Egypt. Ok, in my case it would be rural Wisconsin, but the point is I want to go back to a place and time where it was simpler and a chance to redo all that I should NOT HAVE done.
This 'Exodus' from Egypt was filled with miracles, signs, and wonders by the very hand of God was lost on them when their stomachs were heard growling in the wilderness. Their faces were long, stomachs empty, and their memories short. Oh sure God parted the Red Sea so we would not be killed, BUT what has he done for us lately?
When I was younger reading this story of God's deliverance I sometimes shook my head thinking how sad they had such little faith, and such short memories. I would NEVER be so ungrateful, BUT.. upon further review.. I think I sadly would have been among friends.
I would like to say I would be Moses right hand man, I more likely would have been the guy crossing the Red Sea wearing water wings, and a flotation device nabbed back at the Nile YMCA.
I'm so tired but I have too much to do. My trees from the forest vantage point tells me foolishly life will NEVER be better again. I am getting older, my eyesight, hearing, aches and pains, and the grey in my beard remind me of that daily.
I can't do it.. I don't want to do it. Where is God? Can't he see I am unhappy? Can't he see my pouty face? Just ask my wife, my pouty face is hard to miss.
WRITE IT ON A ROCK..
Years ago I heard a sermon at church where our pastor gave the instruction.. To take note of when God answers your prayers in both big and small ways... and WRITE IT ON A ROCK. Meaning make a permanent record of God's providence in our lives to remind us when we are in 'trees from forest mode.'
and finally ..
Trust God with all our hearts and lean not in our own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths. Pr 3:5-6.
May God bless each of you with his promise of provision even when you cry out "My God my God why have you forsaken me". Wait patiently, remain faithful, stay the course, don't live in the past, and .. cancel that ticket to Egypt.
The author of the book of Hebrews does not mince words when he wrote
.. it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of NOT LISTENING! ... You ought to be teachers by now, yet here you are needing someone to go over the basics on God.. AGAIN! You need MILK, and Milk is for BABIES! Hebrews 5:11-14 (MSG).
BUT then again.. there are plenty of meaningful scriptures exhorting us to have the the faith of a child.
Mt 9:14 (LIV) Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me! Never send them away! For the Kingdom of God belongs to men who have hearts as trusting as these little children’s.
and how about...
Mt 18:2-4 (lIV) Jesus said, “Unless you turn to God from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. and then Jesus continues.. Therefore anyone who humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
even Max Lucado chimes in when he wrote in one of his books.. "Play hard, laugh loud and leave the worries to the Father."
Ok God so which is it? Be like a child or grow up? Drink Milk and eat my Wonder Bread, or grill me a T-Bone Steak?
Before God answers that burning question let me take time for some Introspection..
They say When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then by my reasoning.. if I have a glass of milk.. make a Milkshake?
There you have it.. I am neither profound nor insightful all in one simple 'Jeffism'.
Seriously, I know God wants me to trust and love Him like as a child I did my own mom & dad.
Also God wants me to grow up, and not end up a spiritual baby or even a lazy spiritual teen living in my Heavenly Father's basement playing video games while this hurting world is in need of spiritual grown ups (men & women of God).
Love God with all their heart soul and mind and others as themselves. Spending time in God's word daily and in a constant attitude of prayer/conversation with God is the two step formula in becoming a spiritual grown up.
May God bless each of you in your faith journeys. Trust in God with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Jeff (Vanilla Milk Shake Drinking in the Back Pew) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson
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