Tag Archives: laughter

Life is Funny

By Eugene C. Scott

My 2001 Pathfinder on a good day

As of today, my 11 year-old Nissan Pathfinder with only 267,000 miles on it won’t go into reverse. It could be worse. It might have been the other way around and I would have had to drive around backwards all day.Some people say reverse is a totally optional gear. That’s only true if you have someone nice enough and strong enough to push your car backwards.

That’s why I went to pick up my six-foot-something, couple hundred pound, ex-football player, friend and fellow blogger, Michael Gallup, from work at Chick-fil-A . He’s good at pushing.

But I told him we were going to a hospital in downtown Denver to visit a family in our church who had just experienced the miracle of the birth of their third child. A miracle it was. Not the birth, but that the wife let the husband live after her labor and delivery.

At The Chick, I parked head in–forgetting about my faulty transmission–and went inside. Michael looked professional wearing his name tag and neat blue fil-A shirt and bow-tie as he put his shoulder into the grill of my truck and pushed it out of the parking space as all his customers watched. I learned something just then. Chick-fil-A really is a full service fast food place.

On the way downtown, we lost ourselves in a conversation about systematic theology and the nature of God. Yes, real people do talk about such things, if you consider a pastor and a seminary student real people.

The conversation was so engaging we got a little distracted. I stopped at a light too far out, just a smidgen into the pedestrian cross walk. A woman had to walk around the nose of my car. I shrugged at her trying to say, “Sorry, I would back up but my reverse is broken.” I think she understood. At least she waved. But only with one finger.

After that, we got a little lost again and not just in conversation. So I pulled over to check my Google Map–making sure I would not have to back up to pull out. As I was working with my iPhone, a woman parked in front of me–ON A COMPLETELY EMPTY STREET WITH TONS OF OTHER PARKING SPACES–and got out of her car and walked away. I don’t think I hit her bumper pulling out.

Finally we arrived at the hospital. By now I had learned my lesson. Don’t trust Google Maps.

We drove around a bit looking for the perfect spot. This was handy because it also allowed us to finish our conversation about systematic theology, the true nature of preaching, and if there is life on other planets (just kidding about that last one).

Just then a space opened where no one could park in front of me. I whipped to the curb not thinking I would still have to back up to get into the spot. Without a word Michael jumped out and shouldered my truck back into the spot.

By then he had taken off his name tag and bow-tie. That was a shame because now all the people watching from the sidewalk didn’t know he was affiliated with Chick-fi-A.

I don’t want to diminish the reality that sometimes life is filled with tragedy. These are tough times-world over. Les Avery, a pastor I worked with years ago, would often say, “Scratch beneath the surface of any life and you will find pain unimaginable.” He was right.

But sometimes life is just funny. Reverse breaks. You discover your fly unzipped. You fart in a somber public place.

C. S. Lewis, of all people, noticed that only humans laughed and made jokes about passing gas. He believed this to be unlikely evidence humans were made in the image of God. (Try that one in your next apologetic debate with an atheist.) Not that God passes gas too. But our ability to laugh at ourselves–and especially in the face of tragedy–shows we are more than mere animals. We have some sense of objectivity–an ability to see ourselves as we really are–and laugh, or cry.

Life is not only tragedy. It is also a comedy. And laughter, fun, a good joke are gifts from God. Sometimes it just depends on your perspective.

By the way, the baby is healthy and beautiful. But its father was sitting a safe distance from its mother.

Eugene C. Scott loves to laugh and has driven around backwards and is co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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An Unexpected Secret To Good Health

As of this morning, “Charlie Bit My Finger” has registered over 202 million views on YouTube.” If you haven’t seen it yet—or you just need a good laugh—click on the video above.

“A day without laughter is a day wasted,” comedian Charlie Chaplin once commented.

Not only is laughter a good way to spend your time, it also offers an unexpected secret to good health. Please join me today as we explore this topic further.

TODAY’S READING

2 Kings 3:1-4:17
Acts 14:8-28
Psalm 140:1-13
Proverbs 17:22

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Kings 3:1-4:17. King Joram of Israel was much like his father Ahab. He led Israel in the worship of idols, however, it’s interesting that in a pinch, he sought the direction from the God of Israel. Deep down, we know the gods that tantalize us cannot rescue us.

King Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, provides us with a model of sincere faith. I find it interesting that he responded the same way to King Joram as he had to King Ahab: Jehoshaphat was unashamedly committed to Yahweh and openly acknowledged his reliance upon God’s direction. At the same time, he never comes across as preachy.

Three thoughts occur to me as I read about the kings’ preparation for battle:

  • God showed favor to evil people because of the presence of the righteous (verse 14).
  • Rescuing the troops in the desert was easy for God. As the troops in the desert are about to die of thirst, God responds to the kings plea for deliverance, Elisha tells them, “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 18).
  • God answered the kings’ request in an unexpected way. No one assumed water to flow into a desert. When God answers our prayers, he often does so in unexpected ways. The challenge for us is to recognize it when it comes.

One difference between Elisha and Elijah is that Elisha carried some influence with the king (2 Kings 4:13). Perhaps this explains why King Joram wasn’t considered as evil as his father Ahab.

Acts 14:8-28. The crowd in Lystra is reminiscent of the crowd in Jerusalem during Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, the people shouted praises to Jesus and a week later they crucified him. In the same way, Paul and Barnabas were considered Greek gods before some Jews arrived in town and incited the people against them.

The New Bible Commentary offers an interesting explanation of why the people assumed the men were gods:

There is an ancient story about these same two gods visiting a town in the area. They were not recognized and received only a cool reception. In anger they destroyed the town that had been so inhospitable. With such a folk-tale circulating in this region, it is hardly any wonder that the crowd reacted in the way that they did, bringing forth a bull and wreathes and wanting to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas after a simple healing. The legend also helps to explain why they assumed the visitors were those particular gods rather than a god of healing, as might have been expected from the events themselves.

What incited the crowd against Paul and Barnabas? Probably a combination of embarrassment for being fooled and perhaps the belief that the men were seeking to take advantage of them (fueled by their Jewish accusers).

In verse 19, we read that the crowd stoned Paul (where was Barnabas?). Most amazing of all, though, we read in verse 20, “But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”

After being pelted with rocks and nearly killed, I doubt I would demonstrate the same commitment as Paul.

Reflecting on their opposition, Paul and Barnabas advised their fellow disciples, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (verse 22).  The belief that followers of Jesus should never experience pain or suffering is completely false and misguided.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

Years ago—before the proliferation of cable and satellite television, and Comedy Central—a friend of mine came up with the idea that every hospital should air a special television network dedicated to making people laugh. Quoting this passage of Scripture, he believed it would aid the patients in their healing.

Centuries later, scientific studies report that laughter triggers certain endorphins that help people heal.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, described laughter as a release of fear, anxiety and aggression. Further research by the American Physiological Society found that laughter decreases the secretion of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine while raising the levels of immune-boosting hormones, such as beta-endorphins and human growth hormone.

A doctor in India has even developed “laughter clubs” which have spread around the world. These clubs are designed to allow stressed-out executives to laugh their way back to good health.

Rather than being “unspiritual,” laughter is a gift from God and key to living healthy lives.

To learn more about the health benefits of laughter, read this and this.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How has laughter helped you heal?
  3. How does laughter fit into your walk with God?
  4. What humorous experiences with God would you be willing to share with us?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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