I don't know what it is like where you live, but The rain that fell over the course of the last 24 hours officially bumped 2019 up to the second-wettest year on record in Minneapolis Mn, with 29.64” of rain, behind 1892 with 31.75”. Ok, not ARK building weather, but still the 2nd wettest year on record.
Of course back in Noah's day they didn't think they needed an Ark either. There wasn't even a Marina in town, but God grew tired of the true wickedness of man and decided to wipe out all mankind by a flood except for Noah and his family who would sail safely on an Ark.
Genesis 6:5-6 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieve
So we all know the story, the people mocked him Noah's Ark project, until that day that rang out in infamy where the floods covered the Earth killing all living creatures except Noah, his family, and a literal boat load of animals.
This is one of those stories learned in Sunday School where God saved Noah and all the animals of every kind. Cute story for kids, but a powerful story for the rest of us.
While some Christians feud over the flood being local versus universal, or where the Ark is now.. the greater message is to a wicked world that was not SAVED on-board this giant Ark sized petting zoo. Death versus Life was the choice of mankind back in Noah's day, and death versus life is our choice today.
No I don't have to RSVP any Ark invitations from God, but.. same as in Noah's day either I am with (obedient to) God or against Him. Today, either I have accepted Jesus into your heart or have not. The choice is mine, the choice is yours. And just like in Noah's day,
IT MATTERS ETERNALLY what we believe. God will not be mocked. If we do not choose God's salvation plan we will be as lost as Noah's neighbors when the great flood consumed them.
Not such a cute story now. It's a nice story if you are on the boat, but if not.. then a snorkel and flippers will not save you. But it is a beautiful story, because just like the Ark in Noah's day, God has provided salvation. This salvation is found in the name of Jesus. God does not desire for any of us to miss out, but we all have free will so the choice is ours. CHOOSE WISELY, and salvation is a reality CHOOSE POORLY and please know you not safe.
Note: Flood Insurance would not have saved you in Noah's Day, and neither will Fire Insurance save you today.
May God bless each of you with the realization of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is a beautiful gift from our loving God. For those of you outside of His plan, know John 3:16, believe John 3:16, and then.. WELCOME ABOARD.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Jeff (Soggy bottom boy in Minnesota) Larson
School Days, School Days.. Dear old Golden Rule days
' Reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hick'ry stick'
So NOT politically correct! but.. I like it!
Back to school begins traditionally the day after Labor day in America. Parents, students, and teachers transition from vacations, picnics, and the beach to a world of chalk dust, text books, report cards, and a possible trip to the principle's office.
CHALK DUST bites the DUST
Of course chalk dust is becoming a part of old school urban legend. I-Pads and smart phones are the tools (and distractions) of today's student. They say.. You are only as smart as your smartphone?
Then the timeless excuse 'My dog ate my homework" has been upgraded for our high speed high tech society with.. "my wi-fi was down", or "a computer virus ate my homework". Also, Notes passed between students has been replaced by texting, browsing the web, and/or social media posts.
My wife Mary is a school teacher who taught for 10+ in the public schools before moving to a small Christian school these last 3 years. A teacher is truly how God wired by wife as you can tell by the hours she spends prepping or talking teacher talk with her other teacher peeps. Now this year I have started a new job as a school bus driver. What a treasure trove of new cartoon ideas I have wandered into. I hope to share some of these very soon, but in the mean time..
God bless all of you gifted educators in the public school systems (you are so important), but for my wife she could not be happier where she is now still teaching the 3 Rs, but blending this with a Christian world view, prayer, and worship of the God of our Bibles. Truth be told it has become as much of a ministry as an occupation as evidenced by her pay cut moving from the public school system.
My Prayer of Blessing for all you dedicated educators (public & private, primary & secondary) that Jesus be first and foremost in your lives. May your faith and God's truth guide your words and deeds. Kindness, compassion, and loving discipline are the marks of a Godly educator.
My Prayer of Concern for public schools is for the language and tone not minimize or apologize for our nation's Christian heritage. Public Schools in their determined quest to remain NEUTRAL in matters of faith have instead become NEUTERED in respect to our Christian heritage. While there is no question we are all to respect the differing faiths of others but it's a MISTAKE to become so SECULARIZED that we are void of God.
The Pledge and Patriotism
And while we are at it, I pledge allegiance to the flag and the United States of America. And to the Republic for which it stands, one nation UNDER GOD..This pledge needs to be in schools. Patriotism and honoring our country (flaws and all) needs to be an integral part of education. AND Christians should not be alarmed the pledge puts God and Country on the same plane. The pledge clearly states one nation UNDER GOD.
I am seriously miffed at a movement in the 'progressive' Christian community that has a problem with God and Nation. Again, read the pledge.. one nation UNDER God.
OBTW, please don't kneel during the Star Spangled Banner. Save your kneeling for your prayer time.
IN SUMMARY .. Happy/blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord Psalms 33:12,.. and so it goes without saying happy/blessed is the SCHOOL whose God is the Lord. When our nation and/or schools compromise Psalms 33:12 there in lies the erosion of all God intends for His people.
May God bless all of you educators this coming year. Be faithful and sensitive to God in your lives as He leads you. Good Teachers are a true blessing to the foundation of our country!
Jeff (semi-educated/bus drivin') Larson
note: For a complete look at all things school from a Back Pew perspective, click here-> SCHOOL
Supersized and drive through meals ... delivered freaky fast your way that are finger lickin' good. These are a few fast food 'conveniences' for our fast paced lives in the fast lane. I am guilty of participating in both ordering my share of supersized McArtery Clogger Value Meals, and using the drive through for lunch, lattes, and my banking needs. Life is busy and there is a time and a place for fast food, and fast service but there is a time and a place to SLOW DOWN.
Now as I segue to my faith journey.. I find awkward parallels to our fast food society.
1. I want the blessings on my life supersized now please,
2. I sometimes pray like I am using a drive thru window. I don't even slow down to say hello to God but place my order/prayer list with the angel stationed at my drive thru prayer window. And..
3. my patience for His answers rivals my belief that microwave popcorn still takes waaay too long.
Moral of this blurb is.. God does listen to and answer my freaky fast food faith moments (sometimes that is all I have), BUT how much better my perspective is when I slow down and savor quiet times with my Heavenly Father. Prayers that are not distracted and hurried, and devotions that are not fit in just before I go to bed and can hardly keep my eyes open. To slow down is good for my soul, and I am 'gently' convicted/impressed that I need this now.
There will be those times where freaky fast faith is all we have time for, but let's purposefully slow down and make time with God that is more than a microwaved/reheated moment of spiritual nourishment. Maybe a home cooked God's Family Meal... with desert.
Hmm.. I am getting hungry.
May God bless and use each of you for His glory in SUPERSIZED ways
Jeff (McBack 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 is true on many a road trip where I was 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 being mountain climber aspiring to climb Mt. Everest, but afraid to leave your 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 as a Sunday social club where we go to be fed/entertained every week but never go deep, but do not devote my life to God except to be a pretty good person. 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?
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? 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
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, serve Him first and foremost in our lives.. go beyond being a good 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 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 simply a good person.
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” James 2:2-3
<-- James 2:2-3 This is how it looks for me in Minnesota
Let me start by sharing I attend a good church that I really like. It is a mix of all ages, from college students through senior citizens. The preaching is straight from God's word in a manner that is both challenging and at times entertaining. The worship is performed by talented musicians and the words and atmosphere are both.. worshipful. There are 3 big screens up front to assist in this modern presentation of church. Our motto is no perfect people allowed. It is a welcoming church where you are greeted at the door, there is care for the little ones, and classes for all the kids through teens. Ways to connect and become involved and a place to ask for prayer are presented each week. My church is attractive, welcoming, and like I said, I really like my church.
Then on Monday's recently I started attending a Celebrate Recovery program at a different local church (my church does not offer one). I am over 4 years sober now after it became apparent I was an alcoholic where drink had compromised my life for about the previous 15 years. It did not ruin it, but I was headed on the wrong road, and my addiction to a buzz was growing and dangerous. I thank God for his healing in this area and for the love and grace of my family.. especially my wife.
So anyways, I never really attended treatment when I quit, but now 4 years later found myself in a Celebrate Recovery program which my wife attends with me. She does not have a problem with alcohol but supports me and encouraged me to attend for my own well being and to give back and support others in this struggle.
Well, in contrast to my good church where the worship, preaching, and presentation on Sunday's is clean and sharp.. this Celebrate Recovery program is messy. These are people who are struggling. Some have been sober for 15+ years, others are celebrating not have a drink for 30 days, or less. Some are people who have been in and out of treatment, and/or suffering the consequences of their addictions by losing their drivers license, jobs, or family. Stories of jail-time, and restraining orders were common. Many were in the place where they were not drinking but now dealing with the void in their lives where once was a buzz. This group is a mess.. such a beautiful mess.
What makes this group such a beautiful mess is their journey starts and ends with a return to God. Not just a higher power but the only true God of our Bibles. This is our only hope for the alcoholic and ALL of the rest of humanity (aka sinners).
Now after 4+ years of being sober, I look back on my journey to where I am now. I did not realize what a fragile mess I was and am still recovering from. I went bankrupt, had to sell my home and my business and start over. I was wounded deeply and felt a void of what do I replace the buzz of alcohol with. I was a Christian through all this, I prayed & read my Bible, but was still a mess. Maybe God saw me as a beautiful mess.. I think my wife saw me that way. I was a mess but oh how important I was to her and how much she believed in me and loved me.
So this all makes me reflect on James 2:1-2. I am ashamed to say I honestly don't like the mess or messy people. I like happy Christians with no deep dark secrets and/or sins. I like the well orchestrated church service and an attractive congregation that looks like .. church people should look? I don't know if I want my church look like any mess, even a beautiful mess.
So here I am convicted today.. and I thank God for this conviction. I now desire to be in the mess, and I will fit in as I am a mess.. together we are a beautiful mess that God is in the process of restoring. After church I don't want to be the guy looking past the guy or gal out of place to find my usual friends where I am comfortable, and I don't want to be the guy who stays home on Monday nights instead of attending Celebrate Recovery group with my beautiful mess.
I don't know exactly how this conviction on my heart will play out, but I pray God would speak to me and change me to serve him among the beautiful mess that are the people Jesus would be spending his time with.
May God bless you, care for you, and use you to serve Him in this world that is a mess. I pray for revival and restoration in America. I pray His church is sensitive and caring for the beautiful mess that we are a part of.
Jeff (what a mess) Larson
note: One person commented last night.. If the church was honest, the seats in Celebrate Recovery would be full. It is not just for the alcoholic, it is for everyone that struggles with the very real issues of life. Depression, co-dependency, anger, sex addiction, anxiety/fear. I pray we allow ourselves to be honest, and allow God to restore the mess in our lives.
It is common knowledge in the church that all those who accept Jesus Christ as their savior automatically receive an eternal life insurance (ELI)plan protecting them from Hell Fire . This ELI plan is a must for all those who value eternity.., I highly recommend it. No monthly premiums to remember, so why not sign up today.
But, besides the ELI policy featured in the Gospels I was concerned regarding the life and health insurance needs for an extremely violent Old Testament. What happens what tragedy strikes?Then after researching Google and after about 7 red bulls at 3 as.m. I uncovered a little known but powerful insurance plan known as the Aflack Apocrypha Comprehensive Insurance Plan (AACI). AACI covered the following significant Bible moments and more..
Other probable insurance claims I noticed were..
So there you have it.. The Aflack Apocrypha (AACI) . We were the original 'We know a thing or two cuz we've seen a thing or two' insurance company.
Note: I am pretty sure this illustrated blog/writing/policy outline will NOT become an accepted part of the canon of scripture, but I am ok with that.
May God bless you with health and good insurance... and a future in Heaven with our Jesus.
note: Confession, I never googled the Alfack Apocrypha.. I made it up.. (insert shock & awe here). I don't drink red bulls, and I certainly at my age am not up at 3 a.m. unless I have to pee. TMI TMI
Also Bryan reinforces his sign concerns by quoting Jesus in Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it.
So there you have The Four Principles of Bryan (4PofB) for a world looking for ironically a sign? Not sure the 4PofB will have the same impact as let's say.. The Four Spiritual Laws by Bill Bright, but there are four of em'.
May God bless your life with a fully charged smartphone, a manageable email inbox, seat belts in your cars, a life uncluttered by excessive 'signage'... and good friends to be used as blog fodder.
Jeff (signing off for now) Larson
There are those grey overcast days where I think the sun will never shine again. Maybe a little foggy, drizzling still morning but then a spot on the clouds glows and just moments later the sun peeks out. I now see the sun and feel it’s warmth. Amazing how that feels especially on that cool grey day, but sometimes as quick as the sun appeared the clouds return and the sun is gone and so is it's warmth.
This glimpse of the sun describes often my pursuit of God. I read, and pray and the story of God and the Gospel message makes sense. This time of clarity is beyond refreshing until.. circumstances and the world distract me, along with my inconsistent pursuit of God until my perspective is clouded and poof my moment of clarity is gone.
In my defense I find Isaiah 55:9, and 1 Corinthians 13:12 . I feel like Winnie the Pooh, a Bear of very little brain creator of cartoons attempting to grasp Almighty God creator of the Universe. Advantage God
I resign myself that in this life I will only in part understand the ways of my creator, but.. still when the clouds part that glimpse of God like the sun through the clouds on a grey day is priceless. This glimpse of God's truth, and love speak to me like the warmth of the sun. My shoulders relax, there is sudden clarity and perspective. Lord send more glimpses, Lord send me sunny days.
So I pursue another glimpse and for clear days of Sun and God's warmth. Why settle for glimpses so I quiet myself, focus on God's Truth in my Bible, pray without ceasing, listen to worship music, spend time with believers, and serve others.
No matter how cloudy your day is in this broken world of sickness, conflicts, family issues, greed, racism, and/or POLITICS (please pass the bucket).. pray for Glimpses (and more) of God and His purpose and perspective.
Get a glimpse of the Lord as your Shepherd in Psalm 23, and the live out Phil 4:8 dwelling on and pursuing what is good.
May God bless each of you this day with more than glimpses of Him that pierce the clouds in your life and rest in the promise of what He will reveal to us fully someday.
Note: The Apostle Paul given a tad more than a glimpse of the sun/Son on that road to Damascus. On your Damascus Road.. wear SUNBLOCK.
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.
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 bagEls 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 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. If anyone espouses traditional Christian values we are deemed judgmental, hateful bigots or worse.
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. We are commanded in loving firm truths to stay in the light by Jesus. He does not mince word and the world hated Him for it.
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
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson