Things that cause God to laugh

“But Thou, O Lord, dost laugh at them; Thou dost scoff at all the nations” (Psalm 59:8).

I think it was Erma Bombeck who said, “Know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”

Or maybe it was Joan Rivers.

Anyway.  It’s right on the mark.

The writer for Our Daily Bread said this:  I was washing my car one evening as the sun was preparing to kiss the earth goodnight.  Glancing up, I impulsively pointed the hose at it as if to extinguish its flames.  The absurdity of my action hit me, and I laughed.

I get a kick out of seeing how prophecy experts bend over backward trying to locate the United States–as well as whatever country happens to be giving us headaches at the moment–in Scripture.  As though our moment in history is so huge and our place in God’s plan so essential, how dare anyone suggest He could have planned the grand sweep of history without our being given a starring role.

As if.

Isaiah 40 has a good word on this.

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How to grow a small church

“It doesn’t matter to the Lord whether He saves by the few or by the many” (I Samuel 14:6).

Depending on a number of factors, growing a small church may well be  one of the more do-able things pastors can achieve.

Those variable factors include…

–the health of the church (you don’t want a sick church to grow; it needs to get well first!).  I once told my congregation, “There’s a good reason no one is joining this church.  I wouldn’t join it either!” Believe it or not, those words were inspired and the people received them well, and repented.

–the attitude of the congregation (if the people are satisfied with the status quo,  newcomers will not be welcomed).  I’ve known Sunday School classes composed of a small cluster of best friends who felt imposed on by visitors and new members.  No one wants to go where they’re not wanted.

–and the location of the facility   A church situated five miles down an isolated road, at the end of the dead end trail, can almost certainly forget about growing.  Yes, it’s been done, but rarely.

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The pastor goes before a search committee

There is no established manual for search committees.

There are no laws on how these things are to be done.

The Bible has no search committees and thus no guidelines for them.

So, the result is often a mess. A hodge-podge of arrangements and a plethora of assortments.

So, lower your expectations, pastor.

And buckle your seat belt.

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One thing people in ministry must never do

Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.  First Corinthians 4:2

This position is not yours; you are only a steward.  A caretaker.  A manager.

Get that wrong and you have bought yourself a lot of grief.

The other day I saw where a well-known news anchor was complaining about being fired from her position a decade or more ago.  “I did nothing wrong,” she said.  As if the position was rightfully hers until she was found to be “doing something wrong.”

As though that has anything to do with anything.

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Everyone’s least favorite preacher-type: The cocky kind

“Be thou humble, preacher.”  (Stated and repeated and reinforced one way or the other in a hundred scriptures such as Isaiah 57:15, Micah 6:8, and I Peter 5:7.)

It’s a personality type, I suppose.  If Mr. Hotshot were not a preacher, but were a bus driver or school principal, a politician or insurance agent, he would still be full of himself and cocky.  But as unpleasant as that trait is in any profession, it’s ugliest and deadliest in one who claims to be a man of God.

You’re in churc listening to him preach. He’s not five minutes into the message before you realize Mr. Hotshot is on full display before you in the flesh.  His words and mannerisms give him away.  Listen to him:

— “I told my…I want my…My convictions are…I believe…I insist that my staff….”

All church employees are “my staff,”  the new program is “something God told me to do,” and this sermon is “My strong conviction.”

It’s all about him.

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Things God enjoys most

I do always do the things that are pleasing to Him. –John 8:29

“Well, I know there’s a lot of big preachers that know a lot more than I do, but it could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin’ too.”  –Tom T. Hall, “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died”

Yogi Berra watched as the batter approached the plate.  The Yankee catcher had seen it all, and this guy was like so many: eager to get a hit, but needing all the help he could find.  The batter stood at the plate and made the sign of the cross, then pointed toward the skies, both symbols of prayer as he summoned the Almighty to his aid.

“Hey buddy,” said Yogi from behind his mask, “Why don’t we just let the Lord enjoy the game?”

I’m with Yogi.

That begs the question of course.  We wonder if the Lord enjoys a baseball game occasionally.

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Fifteen lies Satan tells you about Scripture

“(The devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

If I were the devil, I would do everything in my power to keep you from the Word of God.  I would say anything I could think of, anything I thought you would believe, anything that works, to get you to read other things.

As Paul said, “We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).  We know how he works.  And here are some of the lies we have noticed pouring out of his factory, all geared toward destroying confidence in God’s Word.

One. “You already know it, so don’t read it.”

He’s lying to you. You do not know it. I’ve studied the Bible all my life and in no way could I say I “know” it. I know a great deal about it, but there is so much more.  For the typical church member to shun the Bible because “I’ve been there and done that” is laughable.

Two: “No one can understand it, so don’t read it.”

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This guy found a “contradiction” in Scripture and thinks that disproves God.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Facebook friend had written something about Scripture and people were leaving comments.  One person in particular was giving her a hard time.

I suppose the critic was her friend, because after his unkind and cutting remarks, she patiently responded with kindness and reason.

But nothing worked.  This guy was determined to be mean-spirited.

When one is determined not to believe, no amount of truth or reason or logic can penetrate the protective armor of alibis, arguments, excuses, and slander in which he clothes himself.

He had found a contradiction in Scripture, he said, that convinced him the whole business of Christianity was nothing but a con.

What was his “contradiction”?

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Joe is interviewed by a national magazine. Sort of.

On the final page of a popular magazine–which shall go unnamed–a celebrity is interviewed in each issue.   I thought I’d give it a try and answer the questions myself. (At the end, I added a few more.)  Here goes….

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being in the place God put me, doing the work He gave me.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  Likewise, the best definition of hell on earth is to be out of His will.

What is your greatest fear?

Just that very thing: being out of his will.  I fear nothing so much as disappointing Him.  That could happen to any of us. None of us is immune to temptation. That keeps me on my knees every day.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

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Jesus did indeed claim to be God. Why that matters.

“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe.  The works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me.  But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep.  My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me….” (John 10:24-27).

If Jesus Christ is not the God-man, then we’re out of business and the universe is in the dark.

Nothing is more basic to the Christian faith and everyone’s hope than His deity.

Theological liberals like to say Jesus never claimed to be God, that this claim was put in HIs mouth by Christians who came later.

What fun they have with the story of Jesus.

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