Thursday, July 11, 2013

Laughter is, indeed, good medicine.

Those who know me well, know that I love to laugh. Laughter is an involuntary reaction to certain external or internal stimuli. It can arise from such activities as being tickled or from humorous stories or thoughts.

When was the last time you had a good hearty laugh? Children are known to laugh a great deal more than adults. The average baby laughs around 300 times a day compared to the average adult who laughs around 20 times a day.

Sometimes I think we take the things that happen at church a bit too seriously. Do you know what I mean? No, I'm not talking about things like sin or theology or repentance or anything like that. Those things should always be taken quite seriously.

But I'm talking about the lighter things that happen in and around your church. Like the things that appear in a Sunday morning bulletin.

Consider the following ten bloopers - enjoy them - laugh at them and share them with someone at church who needs a good laugh. Remember, laughter is good medicine for the soul.

  1. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking today. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
  2. The Rev. Merriweather spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.
  3. The Pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Fourth in Joy."
  4. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Nelson's sermons.
  5. During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
  6. Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24th. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  7. Low self-esteem group will meet Thursday 7-8:30pm. Please use the back door.
  8. The choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.
  9. Ushers will eat late comers.
  10. Weight watchers will meet at 7pm. Please use large double door at the side entrance.


P.S. Ever feel like giving up? Quitting? Throwing in the towel? Ever think faith in God really isn't working all that well? Come and join us Sunday at 9:00 or 10:30am to discover what to do when life doesn't seem to be working.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What To Do & Say When There Just Aren't Any Words...

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Scottish preacher, Ian Maclaren, said that in the 1890's and it still rings true today. During the Civil War a preacher by the name of Joseph Parker said "Preach to the suffering, and you will never lack a congregation. There is a broken heart in every pew."

The Apostle Paul in the first century expressed the same sentiment this way, "Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:30)

Every day we meet people who are hurting: going through a divorce, lonely because of a loss, a loved one in hospice care, dealing with Alzheimer's or cancer, loss of job, terminal illness, rebellious child, financial distress, anxiety, worry, fear and on and on.

Some people are at a loss of what to say or do when someone is hurting. My hope is that the list below will help you when you encounter someone who is hurting.

-Well-spoken words. Please no spiritual platitudes like "everything is going to be alright." In a crisis, discussing theology is ill-timed. Speak in a calm, reassuring voice of love, not theology. Listening goes a long way at the beginning of a crisis. Our words can be helpful, but at times silence might be even more powerful.

-Show love. Bring a meal to their house. Mow the lawn. Help with chores. Appropriate touch can minister to them as well.

-Be ready for the "why" question. This question may not come at first but when it comes, don't assume you know the answer. Listen. Admit you don't know why. Affirm that it's OK to ask that question and don't make them feel it is wrong to ask it.

 -Pray. Praying together and out loud is powerful. Call on God for His grace, comfort, mercy and peace. Prayer puts the focus back on God.

-Share a scripture. God's word is powerful and alive (Hebrews 4:12). It is like a soothing salve on a deep wound.

Here are some of my favorites:

Psalm 34:7

Isaiah 40:11; 28-31; 41:10, 13

Philippians 4:6-7

2 Thessalonians 3:16

John 14:27

-Follow up. Check in on them every few days. Ask them if there is anything they need.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Here's an interesting stat for you...

I read an interesting research tidbit from Rainer Research this week. The research stated that only 5% of the unchurched in America are likely to be highly resistant to the Gospel, antagonistic toward Christians, or belligerent in their conversations with and about Christians.

At 5%, Sam Rainer says these "hardcore unchurched" account for about 8 million people, but the other 152 million who are unchurched are far more open to hearing the Gospel.

That being the case, we're more likely to find people open to the Gospel than not. So why are we so afraid to share our faith story and the Gospel?

One reason I believe is that the enemy doesn't want us to share our faith, and so he fights us with fear (read Ephesians 6:12). A second reason we don't share our faith story or the Gospel is that we fail to develop relationships with those outside the church (the unchurched).

When the religious leaders expressed a concern that Jesus was making friends with the unchurched, Jesus said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor, sick people do...for I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." (Matthew 9:12-13)

During your prayer time each day ask God to reveal to you two people He wants you to talk about Jesus with. Ask Him to prepare their hearts for hearing the Gospel and ask Him to prepare your heart for talking to them.

Then, in faith, step past your fears and believe Jesus is already at work creating "a divine appointment" for you to talk to them. Then watch for the way He answers your prayers. May God anoint each of us this week to share our faith!