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Posts Tagged ‘Laughter’

51m3BdLgQJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Just finished reading Churchfails – 100 Blunders in Church History (& what we can learn from them), David Stabnow, General Editor. This book was provided to me through B&H Bloggers for the purpose of this review. The thoughts and opinions are purely my own. I am not a dedicated history buff and this is not my general choice of reading material. But I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

What a fun and informative book. Written in a most palliative and quick read style, and certainly anything but dry. The churchfails outlined begin as early as 35 AD and continue through to modern times outlining how seemingly intelligent and sane people twist theology and wander off in surprisingly ridiculous tangents.

Each short article gives a one or two line synopsis, a biography of the offshoot leader, defines the main theme of the churchfail, and then gives application for today.  Humor is incorporated in a way that makes us laugh not just at the wrong thinking of the leader but at ourselves and how easily we are led down the meandering path, away from solid theology if we aren’t careful.

Some of my favorites:

Marcion of Sinope who rejected all of the Old Testament and most of the New Testament, keeping only what supported his beliefs. He was the first to bring together certain Christian books and call them the writings of the church. Unfortunately, he selected only portions he agreed with and eliminated anything he didn’t like. As a result he was excommunicated, branded as a heretic and Marcionism died out.  The application for today: many modern day churches do the same – pick and choose what they want from the Bible and ignore the rest. The author points out that “no book, no miracle, and no nation should be left out of our message; the whole plan of God should be preached (Acts 20:27).”

Hippolytus of Rome who “never met a pope he didn’t agree with” and who also became the first in history to work out the exact date of Christ’s return. He met five popes in his lifetime and had issues with each which he was quick to verbalize. The application for today is the warning to avoid being known only for what you disagree with. And of course, for attempting to do what the Bible says is impossible – predict the exact day of the second coming.

Matthew Caffyn who was highly intelligent and decided if his brilliant mind couldn’t fully comprehend such things as how God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit could be one and the same then it must not be true. He disregarded the biblical teaching of centuries and came to the conclusion that he was wiser than the scholars before him. As the writer points out in the application for today, even Solomon, who was considered the wisest man on earth, had 700 wives and 300 concubines! How smart was that when with those wives came 700 mother-in-laws! In the case of Caffyn we are reminded “haughty arrogance regarding ones own abilities leads to one’s downfall.”

Throughout the book we are reminded how foolish it is to veer from scripture and assume we have a new answer or a new theology. There’s a reason the Gospel of Christ has endured – it is true and pure and life giving.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants glimpses into the history of churchfails and a few laughs along the way.

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imagesQARDRAR3Having just finished our first and very successful Community Outreach Harvest Party at church I’ve been contemplating all the parts and pieces, comments and participation that made up this event.

It was a ton of work. Planning meetings and prep and set up just about did me in. And then just keeping things running on the day of the event challenged us all.

It took a ton of prayer and faith. You never know how these things will go. You can invest a lot of time and money and see no result or you can plan for a few and end up with a bunch.

It took a ton of courage. My least favorite thing in the whole world (with the exception of peas and squash) is going door to door to hand out flyers. But – I did it and found it not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be.

It took a ton of risk. We risked doing away with our regular Sunday morning church service to move out of the building into the parking lot to try to catch the attention of the neighbors. But just like in the stock market, sometimes risk pays off. And it did with this event. We had fun and made contact with several families we otherwise would not have.

The biggest lesson for me and I hope for others was – church isn’t all about a nice comfortable seat in a nice sterile sanctuary where you sit back and get fed. Just consider the early church and the effort it took to get it going.

In order for the first churches to get off the ground 2000 years ago, a ton of work went into the preparation. The disciples had to plan long journeys on foot, by boat and maybe on horseback. They had to map out the most efficient route and plan for finding provision and shelter along the way. A mission trip back then wasn’t jump on a plane and be on the mission field in a few hours. It took months, years even, just to get where they were going.

The startup churches took a ton of prayer and faith. After all, they were trying to change hundreds of years of tradition and belief, ritual and law. They were leaving loved ones behind, possibly to never see them again. They didn’t have a Bible to carry along with them to pull out scripture when they needed it. They were speaking the words that would become the Bible and they were praying they got it right.

To preach the word and start up new church cells took a ton of courage for sure. As evidenced in scripture, the disciples suffered much for spreading the gospel. They were beaten, imprisoned, spit on, mocked and even martyred. No doubt their families suffered as well by association.

And without doubt, risk was involved. What if no one listened? What if their friends and family turned against them? What if, what if, what if? They experienced the misinterpretation of what they had preached and had to go back and re-teach. They ministered in violent times – where the innocent were tried and convicted and crucified. Many of them had seen that firsthand!

The early church services were held on hillsides, beside sick beds, under open skies and hidden away in secret sanctuaries. They happened on stormy seas, on sandy beaches, and on crowded streets. Wherever the Word of God was offered – be it verbally or through a smile or a healing touch, by laughter and fellowshipping with the Godly men who made it their mission to teach, through soft words of comfort in tough times or shouts of joy in a baptismal stream – wherever, church happened.

The only place it probably didn’t happen back then was in cushioned chairs surrounded by painted walls and controlled temperatures.

Even though we didn’t have “church” as we have come to know it last Sunday, as my pastor said, “We were church – to the friends and neighbors who came and saw God’s people reaching out.”

Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. Luke 14:23

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imagesCAYQ3DZ0Any idea how Black Friday got it’s name?  Actually, it was first called Black Friday in 1966 by police because of the chaos, traffic jams and acts of violence associated with the day. It has become a very profitable day for retailers and certainly, a profitable day for bargain shoppers if you are willing to get up early, stand in line, fight the crowds and push and shove your way to the best buys of the day.

Are you a Black Friday shopper?  Then I’d like to bring to your mind a little scripture in Mark’s gospel (8:36) that goes like this, “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  The message Bible puts it this way, “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?”

In the me-version paraphrase, “Is that piece of electronic equipment or that great buy on name brand boots worth compromising your entire Christian list of principles?”

I heard on the news today that the Greater Sacramento Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is set to unveil 55 billboards touting atheism this Christmas season.  Frightening!

But even more frightening, the billboard Christian shoppers will be displaying on Black Friday if we fall into the trap of losing who we really are to the lure of being first, gaining a material advantage over displaying Christ, and worst of all – setting a poor, long lasting example for our children, friends and whoever else might be observing our actions.

Here are my Black Friday tips to assure that your billboard flashes a message of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Gal 5:22-23)

  1. Don’t leave the house on Black Friday if you think you won’t be able to display the Christ you want others to see.
  2. If you do go, at some point in the day, let someone go ahead of you in line and wish them a Merry Christmas (not a Happy Holiday or Seasons Greetings). This will shock some, bless some and make you feel great.
  3. Smile at everyone.  Smile at the young mother with few funds and a deep desire to make her children’s Christmas special. Smile at the elderly gentleman who can’t move as fast as everyone else. Smile at the husband who doesn’t have a clue and is just going where his wife points. Smile especially at the retail clerk who has answered the same question sixteen thousand times without gritting his teeth. Yes, even smile at the cranky woman who wants to argue and complain to everyone around her.
  4. Hold a door, give up a parking place, pick up a dropped package, do something nice at least once every half hour to remind yourself who you are and what you are trying to convey.
  5. Hum along with the Christmas music blaring throughout the mall.  You will be surprised how it will lift your spirit and take your mind off the inconvenience of the crowds.
  6. Look like Jesus to the weary, hungry crowd. People aren’t always looking for bargains. They are all too often looking for kindness, compassion, gentleness and hope. God’s gift is that with his empowerment you can be all of those things even on Black Friday!
  7. Arm yourself with the full armor. You will need it on this day more than you’ve ever needed it before.  Remember them?  Truth (when the harried clerk gives too much change back),  righteousness (the first shall be last kind of mentality in the midst of the shoving), the Gospel of peace (when everything around you is chaos),  faith (that God has a better plan when you miss out on the big deal of the day that you got up early and stood in line for), salvation (nothing is worth losing your salvation over) and the sword of the Spirit (the one you wield when you’ve been stabbed in the back, stomped into a corner, shoved out of the way and shoutedat).

And when you get home, pour yourself a hot cup of tea or chocolate. Sit down by the fire. Close our eyes and thank God that with His hand in yours you navigated Black Friday in a manner He would be proud of.

God bless you all this Thanksgiving week!

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’  Matthew 25:21

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r4-7a[1]You may have noticed I’ve been absent from my blog for several weeks. I wish I could say I broke both arms and was unable to type or give some other really credible excuse.  I can’t.  It’s just that life came at me with both claws bared and I have been fighting to regain a little control. My sister finally gave me a convicting call, encouraging me to get back on track. So – I’m back.

We’ve pretty much finished motorcycle season. Temperatures have dropped drastically and even though we’ve had some blindingly sunny days, don’t be deceived. It has been cold. The last few rides were glorious with the autumn colors in full splendor, a method of luring you into enjoying the view and ignoring the obvious warning that winter is well on its way.

I just returned from a wonderful, uplifting and highly enjoyable two days away with 20 other ladies at a Women of Faith Conference.  Along with being spiritually stimulated we laughed so much our sides ached.  There is not a topic that can’t be broached when you get a bunch of ladies in a car together. I have a stack of funny stories to tell but I will limit it to one today.

Three carloads of us caravanned over the mountains to make sure we all found our way to the hotel and the conference location.  I took the lead, driving my sister’s new car which is of course equipped with a highly technical GPS system. Staying connected on the freeway in bumper to bumper Seattle traffic is not easy.

We were doing great until the sweet-voiced GPS lady took us down a bad path. Once we realized she had mislead us and was “recalculating” we had to exit the freeway, circle around and get back on the freeway headed the opposite direction.  All three vehicles actually managed that with no problem.

Shortly after getting back on route however, my cell phone rang and my sister answered. She spoke for a few seconds, collapsed in hysterical laughter, and it took us about 10 miles to get out of her what the call was all about. The driver of the van behind us had called because she saw us taking a wrong exit.  She was trying to tell us to get back on the freeway before it was too late.  But, she went ahead and followed us onto the exit, as did the other car in the caravan. Turns out they were following the wrong white Hyundai!

It all worked out. Everyone ended up at the right destination and we laughed about the confusion.

So what do my bike story and my caravan story have in common?  Deception.

How many times in life have I gotten so involved in the beauty of the moment that I totally ignored the warnings of what lay ahead?  And how many times have I chosen to follow someone and found myself off track and needing redirection?  More times than I’d like to admit.

God’s word tells us  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1John 4:1

We should never listen blindly to anyone’s direction and we should always be sure of whom we choose to follow.  Today more than ever false prophets abound, telling us one behavior is right when it is clearly wrong, or another act is acceptable when it is definitely not. Our attention is caught by many things including bright colors and clever wording and before we know it we are separated from the only One who can give us good and wise direction.

A few wrong turns on a ladies weekend can be cause for laughter. A few wrong turns in our spiritual walk are not quite as funny. In fact, they are dangerous, damaging and devastating.

Let your everyday GPS be the Word of God and you will never have to worry about fighting your way back onto the freeway.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…” Phil 1:9-10

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Business jetI’ve missed a few weeks of blogging due to travel, both business and pleasure. It has been a whirlwind and I’m like most everyone else, wondering if taking a vacation is really worth it.

Piles on my desk, emails to answer, phone calls to return, laundry to catch up on – you know the routine I’m sure. It’s nice to know you were missed and nice to know your services are appreciated but not so nice to be reminded that just because you stopped coming into the office for three weeks doesn’t mean the work did.

But – what a three weeks it was, the first two spent on our Harley Davidson Ultra Classic traveling with our good friends. I think we saw it all.

I’ve been on the top of mountains, in the depth of valleys, flying along freeways, secondary roads, scenic routes and some not so scenic routes. I saw ancient fossil deposits and Pueblo Indian ruins, high class ski areas and small poverty stricken towns, wildlife and no life.  You name it and I’m pretty sure we saw it.

Our weather was great interrupted now and then by a little rain, a lot of heat and a bit of wind. We traveled in eight different states, stayed in ten different hotels, covered approximately 4,200 miles and laughed a lot.

My return from vacation was quickly followed by a three day business trip to Billings Montana which turned out to be as eventful as my vacation.  My return flights were cancelled shortly after I arrived and my only option was to miss half the conference in order to rebook a flight that would get me home in time for important meetings at the office. But, talk about customer service! My conference host did not want me to miss out so they offered to fly me home on their private jet.

If you’ve never had that experience, which I hadn’t, wow! It’s the only way to fly. No airport crowds, standing in line, taking off your shoes and whatever else might set off the alarm, having your bag searched, waiting to board, squeezing in next to a complete stranger, having to settle for a teenie tiny bag of peanuts and then arriving to stand around and wait for luggage.

I was transported to the airport, dropped off at the private hanger, walked right onto the plane, given a one minute safety briefing by the co-pilot which included pointing out the fully stocked beverage bar and abundant snack supply. I settled into a most comfortable seat, relaxed and experienced the smoothest flight ever.  On arrival at another private hanger I was met and transported to the auto rental counter which was low on cars so I ended up with a brand new, super shiny black Camero to drive myself home.

At the conference I was immersed in the latest information and technology for administering benefits and on the social excursion I experienced a step back in time exploring part of the Lewis and Clark journey. It was a vivid contrast in cultures but a sure reminder that life changes quickly.

The best part of it all – In those miles of travel, through the exposure to the old and the new, in and out of hotels and restaurants, with friends or strangers, seeing glorious panoramas from the top of a mountain or out the window of a jet and miles of changing scenery from the back seat of a motorcycle – in all of those places I was never out of God’s loving care.

One constant, never changing, solid, unshakable presence in the ever changing landscape of life –  my precious Savior. How blessed I am.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

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MB900386362[1]I can’t believe I’ve missed two weeks of blogging. But then again, with end of the school year activities for the grand girls, a grandson’s graduation in Spokane, working full time, teaching and leading music for Vacation Bible School and all the other stuff I can cram into the open spots I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Now I’m looking at my calendar and realize I have less than two weeks to prepare for our motorcycle trip back to the Colorado Rockies. In blunt terms, that means the dreaded packing decisions are upon me.

A Harley Davidson touring bike is big on fun but small on trunk space. You have to pack light and sparse. At the same time, you have to be prepared for anything from 100 degree heat to rain to snow to cold and windy. T-shirts and tanks are a given so I’ll throw in six or seven. They weigh nothing and take up little space. Over the years I’ve conditioned myself to one extra pair of jeans. I know – horrors – that means wearing them several days in a row but it is what it is. A couple of sweatshirts are a must to put on over the t-shirt. A turtleneck or two to put on under the t-shirt. A wool sweater just in case. Heavy gloves, light gloves, neck scarf, underwear, socks, sandals and a nightgown and I’m already over capacity. There’s still the curling iron and hair dryer. (I know most hotels have hair dryers. But, my hubby has a knack for ferreting out the ones that don’t. This post is not long enough for me to go there!) My makeup bag, small but still a space consumer and of course my Nook and writing materials are must haves.

I’m looking at the small bag that fits in the bike trunk and the big pile that doesn’t fit in the bag and realizing I’m in trouble. Plus, I haven’t begun to include any of the frivolous things my husband will want to take along like a shirt or two and maybe maps and tools to be used in case of a breakdown.

For the next few days I’ll be taking out, adding back, rolling my eyes, and starting over. I will be frustrated beyond measure and ready to bag the whole trip.

But departure day will dawn and somehow I’ll have managed. We’ll be mounted up and headed down the road to meet the couple who is going along with us. As we join up, I’ll see the huge grin on my friend’s face and I’ll remember that the next two weeks will be completely filled with laughter, most of it over nothing but the sheer fact that we enjoy each other’s company.

Together, she and I are like two giddy young girls that find everything funny and never run out of interesting things to talk about. I can’t tell you how many times our guys will tell us to cut the conversation and get on the bike. We will talk until we take off. Each time we roll up to a stop sign we’ll pick up where the latest conversation ended.

The most serious situations – flat tires, spilled coffee, antenna up the nose (that’s for another post), heavy traffic, grumpy husbands, missed turns, road construction, animals crossing the road, near empty gas tanks, minor bike repairs, sudden weather changes – you name it, we will find it funny.

She won’t care that my jeans are on their fourth day. I won’t care that she didn’t get her make up on. Neither one of us will care that we’re lost and the guys are studying maps and pulling out the GPS.

There’s the stress of getting ready to go and the pressure of catching up when you get back, but being on the road with good friends, ever changing scenery, my great love at my side and our day to day cares left behind is worth every minute of the rest.

Eleven days and counting down!

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. Psalm 126.2

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I’ve been giddy all week for this– Friday, two friends, one car, and about 8 solid hours all stirred together into a girl’s day out cocktail.  Can’t beat that.  And even though we’ve “been there, done that” more than a few times, it will be as fresh and fun filled as ever. I know that because it proves true every time the three of us find time to get away for a break-away from our every day.

My husband just shakes his head when I try to explain to him what it’s all about. He swears that two women together is half a woman and more than two is a disaster where common sense goes out the window and reason takes a nap . He’s probably right but who cares? Women have the ability to never run out of things to talk about, to laugh at things that would make a grown man question their sanity, to find silliness in absolutely nothing and to be completely oblivious, for a period of time, to the fact that the country is going to the dogs.

Even though it’s twelve hours away, I can tell you exactly  what is going to happen between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. today.

We will pile in the car at exactly 6:59 a.m. because we won’t want to waste one second of our time together.  We’ll hit the road, turn off the radio and turn on the conversation. You name the topic, we’ll cover it from the election, to husbands, to work, to church, to the weather, to grandkids, to what’s for dinner. We’ll jump around those topics faster than cold water on a hot skillet. And we’ll keep up – something most guys could never do.

We’ll stop thirty minutes down the road at Starbucks, order or favorite drink and be back on the road, picking up the conversation exactly where we left off. We’ll point out beauty along the way, laugh at things no one would find funny and talk some more.

When we get to Seattle we’ll make our way to our destination, remembering again all the times we’ve gotten lost on this same route. And, more than likely we’ll get lost again. But we won’t care. We’re not afraid to ask directions if we need to.

We’ll talk about how cute my friend’s doctor is on our way down the hallway to his office. We’ll pick an outdated magazine off his office rack and share with each other the pictures, advertisements or articles that catch our interest – knowing without a doubt they will also catch the interest of the other two.

After the appointment we’ll spend about fifteen serious moments discussing what the doctor said. And then we’ll move away from that topic and discuss where we want to stop for lunch and shopping. I’ll say I’m not hungry, they will roll their eyes and say “what else is new” and we’ll stop anyway.

Shopping will take four times as long as it normally should because we will keep finding adorable items to hold up to share with each other. We’ll critique every outfit on display, gasp at prices, touch and feel, unfold and refold, poke and prod and move on. And heaven help us if there’s a book store on the route. You’ll see us immediately navigate to the Christian romance section where we’ll admire covers, read jackets, point out new books by favorite authors, and probably have another espresso drink to enhance the experience.

Back in the car on the way home, we’ll pick up our conversation right where we left off again and chat, laugh, maybe even cry a little on the way home.

It will be a day that would drive my guy over the edge to complete, blubbering insanity. But it will refuel our very souls, healing the damage done by the rips and tears of everyday life.  Everyone will benefit – our families especially – because we’ll be kinder, sweeter, more upbeat and certainly more energetic in facing the stresses and strains of being a mom, wife, employee, friend, and every other role we play.

There’s something magic that happens when kindred spirits come together;  when women pour their hormones and their leftover little girl stuff into a few uninterrupted hours of just being together.  I can’t wait.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

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