A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Sermon…

Screenshot 2016-07-28 at 6.27.46 AMAfter the 9/11 attacks on New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani spoke at a live taping of Saturday Night Live. The show has always been distinctly New York and he spoke very frankly with the cast, audience and show creator Lorne Michaels. He wanted the show the go on and encouraged them to do it. Michaels asked “Can we be funny?” And with a straight face Giuliani wryly replied “Why start now?”

In all honesty, I don’t tell a lot of jokes. I enjoy a really bad pun; I get more moans and eye rolls than actual laughter. What I enjoy more than telling jokes is pointing out the humor in real life. Jerry Seinfeld is a classic example of observational humor. Everyone in line at the grocery story might just see long lines that will take too long to get through while their ice cream melts. Seinfeld would point out to his audience the personality quirks of the individuals in line and behavioral habits of people that are forced to practice patience against their will. People are funny; you don’t need a lot of jokes if we’re paying attention to what going on around us.

Baptist Press did an article on the use of humor in the pulpit. Click here to read But Seriously Folks published in May 2016. Chris Osborne, writing a dissertation on the subject, notes that John Piper never, ever, uses humor in his sermons while at the other end of the spectrum Jesse Duplantis uses it endlessly. Historically Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon did, John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards did not. Hershael York, Southern Baptist Theology Seminary, thinks humor is the way to go but not telling jokes. A joke requires comedic timing and a well executed punch line. If you blow those things the joke doesn’t work. Observational humor, even self deprecating stories about the preacher, seem to work best for forming a connection with the audience.

Please read the article at Baptist Press. And I will see you back here on Monday for Happy Monday’s 200th post. Seriously.

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Meanwhile in California…

Screenshot 2016-07-01 at 11.29.59 AMEarlier this week, The Christian Index hosted a discussion of sorts about America being a “Christian nation.” Christians who responded were split over whether America used to be a Christian nation and no longer is vs. those who felt America never was a Christian nation to begin with. Very few argued that it still is today.

Meanwhile, California is about to become the first state to do away with religious/ faith-based education at the college level. If passed as is, SB 1146 would limit religious education to seminaries. Church affiliated schools, or colleges and universities that apply Christian principles to all areas of life, would be restricted from doing so with all students except those preparing for vocational ministry.

Please read this article by Ed Stetzer and Marty Duren via Christianity Today. This is one of those issues that could drag on through the court system for years to come, but we currently have an aging Supreme Court that’s already short one member and a presidential election coming up that could dramatically alter its balance of power. Who knows what the long term implications of this state legislation could be?

Book Review: Slow Kingdom Coming

Screenshot 2016-06-29 at 12.13.49 PMSlow Kingdom Coming: Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly in the World by Kent Annan is not a very long book (146 pages including Appendix and Notes) but it offers practical application meant to be used on a daily basis.

We live in a world surrounded by great needs and good causes. There are children starving in other countries, hurricane and earthquake victims right here and home, and homeless people probably nearby no matter where you live. A single person can be overwhelmed and wonder “why even bother?” No one person can do it all and with a little bit of perspective we realize that no one has to. With focus and discipline we can each do our part, realizing that God’s will being done “on earth as it is in heaven” is a slow process that does not bring instant gratification. Continue reading